CBS Sports: NBA 1980-NBA Finals-Game 5-Philadelphia 76ers @ Los Angeles Lakers: The Doctor vs Kareem
I think Rod Hundley has the most interesting comment in this video. When Kareem Abdul-Jabbar goes down with the ankle injury and he says he doesn’t believe that Lakers can beat the 76ers without Kareem. Well of course that is exactly what the Lakers did in game 6. They beat the 76ers without Kareem who was home with the ankle injury. 6’9 Magic Johnson, whose a point guard normally, filled in for Kareem at center. And the Lakers win that game to clinch the 1980 NBA Finals. Now no one including Hot Rod knew how great of a player that Magic was at this point. And I’m not sure Magic did either, in defense of Hot Rod.
As far as this game, the 76ers had no one who could defend Kareem. And most of the NBA didn’t either in 1980. And this Lakers team had so much talent around Kareem, including Magic, but Jamal Wilkes, Norm Nixon and others, that if you paid a lot of attention to Kareem, Kareem would set up his other teammates the whole game and the other players would’ve beaten the 76ers. The Lakers didn’t have anyone who could stop Julius Erving, but they had two or three guys who could cover The Doctor in stretches and make him work for his points. Jamal Wilkes, Michael Cooper and Magic, at different points of the game.
This was a great finals for several reasons. The two best players in the game at that time, Kareem and The Doctor. The two best teams in the league, 76ers and Lakers. And they both matched up well with each other. They had to cover each other and could make the other team work on offense and defense. Without any real weakness’s on other team. Other than the 76ers not having true quality starting center who played both ends of the court real well. Caldwell Jones was primarily a shot blocker and rebounder. Darryl Dawkins was primarily a scorer, but who wasn’t very consistent there. And that was the difference with Kareem being able to dominate either of the 76ers centers.