L.A.'s greatest sports moments No. 8: Lakers finally beat Celtics
We asked you to send in your picks for the greatest sports moments in L.A. history, and 1,181 ballots later we are unveiling the top 20 vote-getters. Each weekday we will unveil a new moment until we reach No. 1.
No. 8: Lakers defeat Celtics in 1985 NBA Finals (3,141 points)
The championship trophy in hand, owner Jerry Buss made a statement Lakers fans had waited a lifetime to hear.
"This has removed the most odious sentence in the English language," Buss told a national television audience at the conclusion of the 1985 championship series with Boston. "It can never again be said that the Lakers have never beaten the Celtics."
Buss could be forgiven for repeating a negative, because until the 1984-85 season, little the Lakers had experienced against the Celtics was positive.
They had played Boston eight times in the finals and had lost every time. They lost once as the Minneapolis Lakers and seven times as the L.A. Lakers. Four times they lost in Game 7, including the 1984 series, when the Lakers blew two games in which they had the lead and the ball in the final minute of regulation.
The Lakers finally found redemption 12 months later, although the finals started with as bad a loss as any Lakers fan could have imagined. The Celtics won the opener at the Boston Garden, 148-114, in a game known as the Memorial Day Massacre.
But just when it appeared that Boston had L.A.'s number again, the Lakers showed their championship mettle. They won Game 2 in Boston, 109-102, behind an inspired performance by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Looking much older than his 38 years, Abdul-Jabbar scored only 12 points and had three rebounds in Game 1 and was badly outplayed by Robert Parish. In Game 2, the Lakers' captain scored 30 points and had 17 rebounds.
The series shifted to the Forum for three games, the Lakers winning Game 3 in a rout (136-111), the Celtics taking Game 4 on a shot at the buzzer by Dennis Johnson (107-105) and the Lakers grabbing the series edge in Game 5 (120-111).
Back in Boston, the Lakers were determined to end the series in Game 6 and not face another seventh game. So on a Sunday afternoon before a shocked sellout crowd, the Lakers said goodbye to more than a quarter of a century of frustration.
With Abdul-Jabbar scoring 29 points and Magic Johnson adding a triple-double (14 points, 10 rebounds and 14 assists), the Lakers beat the Celtics, 111-100, to win the NBA title. Abdul-Jabbar, who averaged 25.7 points and nine rebounds a game, was the series' most valuable player.
"We got the monkey off our backs at last," said forward James Worthy, who averaged 23.7 points in the finals. "The hurt is gone."
-- Hans Tesselaar
Photo: The Lakers celebrate after defeating Boston in the 1985 NBA Finals. Credit: Los Angeles Times