A titanic game is on tap for this week’s Total Recall: the first matchup between Magic Johnson and Larry Bird in the Boston Garden (their first overall meeting is unfortunately not on YouTube). To set the scene, Boston holds the league’s best record at 32-10, while the Lakers are 30-15, two games behind Seattle for the top seed in the West, trying to hand the Celtics just their second home loss of the year. Such a tough task becomes even more daunting for the Lakers when accounting for a nagging groin injury for Magic (insert Magic Johnson joke here). To watch this game, here’s part one.
Obvious statement is obvious, but it’s amazing how big Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is. I mean, Anthony Davis gets attention for how freakish his wing span is, but this is a whole other level:
Color commentator Hot Rod Hundley: “Nice to watch two highly touted rookies come into the league who feature passing.” He’s obviously speaking of Bird and Johnson, but the same could have applied to the legendary rivalry from the Class of ’03. Of course, I’m referring to LeBron James and Kirk Hinrich.
Boston’s Chris Ford, one of the few sharpshooters at this point in the league, has hit a three pointer in 11 straight games, which is treated as some sort of crazy accomplishment. It obviously was at the time, but it’s funny to hear considering it’s been a whole season since Kyle Korver went without a triple in a game.
With Boston up ten early, Michael Cooper gets the steal, his first of many impact plays in this game picking up the slack for Johnson. The ensuing Abdul-Jabbar basket is just unfair. 7’2″ with that kind of footwork?
Hundley: “Larry Bird’s a good defensive player. I think he’ll surprise a lot of people in that area.” This must be the 1980 version of saying Andrew Luck is “a better athlete than people give him credit for,” or that Julian Edelman has “deceptive speed.”
Part of the fun of these iterations of the Lakers and Celtics is their point guards. Norm Nixon and Tiny Archibald are smaller guys who can penetrate into the lane like in this play. They both seem like players who would have thrived in today’s pick and roll dominated NBA.
The broadcast highlights both assistant coaches, K.C. Jones and…woah, 1980 Pat Riley!
Interesting nugget: Brent Musberger notes that before hiring Bill Fitch, Red Auerbach offered the Celtics head coaching gig to… Bobby Knight.
NOTE: Part 5 of this video was pretty wonky. Maybe it’s an isolated problem on my end, but it skips around and randomly ended multiple times.
Play of the game:
The first time I saw that play I’m pretty sure I ended up yelling “OH MY GOD!”
Unfortunately for Boston, that amazing block is merely a speed bump in L.A’s 21-0 to come back and take the lead. The best part about the run is only a couple buckets into it, you can hear the Boston crowd getting nervous. It’s like one, big collective “Uh oh.” Magic and Bird get the headlines for these dynasties, but the 1980 Lakers are far and away Kareem’s team. Magic is either on the bench or ineffective for the whole run and essentially the game.