The 1987 NBA Finals: 5 Highlights
Curious about the 1987 NBA finals and 5 highlights from the series? The 1987 NBA finals featured perhaps one of the most iconic highlights in the NBA's long and storied history. This was the third matchup between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Boston Celtics in the NBA finals during the 1980s, and the tenth time in the history of the NBA. The Celtics had won the NBA championship over the Lakers in 1984, while the Lakers had won the title over the Celtics in 1985. In 1986, the Lakers lost in the Western Conference finals to the Houston Rockets, and the Celtics won the NBA championship with perhaps their strongest team ever. In 1987, the Celtics were the defending champs, but they were hobbled by injuries and exhausted after a very physical and memorable series with the Detroit Pistons in the Eastern Conference finals. Yet, they had to play the Lakers, so there would have to be another battle. Here are the top 5 highlights of the 1987 NBA finals:
- The baby sky hook. Without a doubt, this is the most iconic moment from the 1987 NBA finals and one of the top five moments in NBA history. The Lakers led the series two to one in game four in Boston. The Celtics had played the Lakers tough all game, but the Lakers had come back to take a 104 to 103 lead with 29 seconds remaining after an alley-oop from Magic Johnson to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. The Celtics came back down the floor and Bird hit a three pointer in the corner right by the Lakers' bench to put the Celtics up 106 to 104 with twelve seconds left. Kareem is fouled with nine seconds left. He makes the first and misses the second. On the rebound, there is a shuffle for the ball, but it is deflected off Kevin McHale. The Lakers inbound to Magic with seven seconds left. Magic takes McHale off the dribble, stutter steps and drives into the lane. He rises and puts up a sky hook, Kareem's patented move. He sinks it and the Lakers go up 107 to 106 with two seconds left. The slow motion image of Magic driving and laying up the baby sky hook is one of the most famous images in the history of the NBA.
- Bird makes three. The three pointer that Bird hit in game four looked like it might be the basket that would win the game and tie the series. Unfortunately, that was Magic's baby sky hook.
- Bird misses three. Game four wasn't over after the sky hook; not with two seconds left and not with Larry Bird in the game. Bird snuck up to the inbounds pass, which cut off James Worthy's angle at the ball. Dennis Johnson inbounded the ball to Bird who was cutting to the corner. Bird caught the ball, squared himself in an instant and launched a three that was right on target but an inch too long. The shot went off the rim and the Lakers won game four. Possibly one of the most famous missed shots of all time.
- The Worthy tap. In game six, the Celtics looked like they might even up the series at three to three in L.A. That was until the third quarter, when James worthy broke up a Kevin McHale pass and chased down the loose ball as it was going out of bounds. Worthy dove, tapped the ball to Magic, slammed to the court while Magic was able to put home the breakway dunk, which gave the Lakers a 57 to 56 lead and the momentum that eventually led them to win game six and the NBA championship.
- Larry's compliment. After the Lakers won the series, Bird, never one to speak openly or give out praise, said of Magic Johnson, "Magic is a great, great basketball player. The best I've ever seen." It is an intimate moment between two of the best players that ever played in the NBA. You can see and hear the dejection that Bird is feeling as he makes this quote.
Those are the top 5 highlights of the 1987 NBA finals, one of the most memorable series in NBA History.