NBA Finals Storyboards: Magic Johnson
See below for the “NBA Finals Storyboards” of Magic Johnson. Each and every Finals series he played has been measured, analyzed and charted below. Earvin “Magic” Johnson is certainly one of the most decorated NBA Finals performers in league history. The Laker great won 5 championships and played in 9 total Finals series. Magic played against Larry Bird’s Celtics, Isiah Thomas’ Pistons, Moses Malone’s Sixers and Michael Jordan’s Bulls. To come out on top five times against that competition is one of the reasons why his legacy endures today.
These “storyboards” were incredibly FUN for me to assemble, as I learned so much about the players and the teams involved in basketball’s biggest stage. I hope you enjoy reading them! For any questions or comments, tweet me @NBAStatsLab for some fun banter. View from top-to-bottom to see each of his Finals performances in chronological order.
NOTE: I’ve graded each Finals series by calculating the player’s “RINGscore” value. Factoring into this calculation include a player’s box score performance, win/loss result, # of games played, the difficulty of competition, # of times player led a game in stats, the player’s statistical rank over his peers, high-game outputs, and more!
On to the stats and stories of the greatest passer in NBA Finals history…
1) Magic Johnson – 1980 NBA Finals – LAL vs PHI
Click to enlarge Magic’s 1980 NBA Finals Storyboard. Johnson had perhaps his greatest Finals game in his first series. When star center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar couldn’t play in Game 6, Magic subbed in at center. He erupted in legendary fashion by recording 42 points, 15 rebounds, 7 assists and 3 steals on 61% shooting. It’s one of basketball’s most storied performances, and for good reason!
2) Magic Johnson – 1982 NBA Finals – LAL vs PHI
Click to enlarge Magic’s 1982 NBA Finals Storyboard. Young Earvin quickly won his 2nd career title by dispatching the Sixers yet again.
3) Magic Johnson – 1983 NBA Finals – LAL vs PHI
Click to enlarge Magic’s 1983 NBA Finals Storyboard. Despite leading every series game in assists, the Lakers were routed and swept in this series. Moses Malone and Julius Erving led the 65-win Sixers to one of the great seasons of all-time.
4) Magic Johnson – 1984 NBA Finals – LAL vs BOS
Click to enlarge Magic’s 1984 NBA Finals Storyboard. The infamous 80’s duel between the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers began with this series. Johnson led all 7 games in assists, but could not topple the Celtics… yet.
5) Magic Johnson – 1985 NBA Finals – LAL vs BOS
Click to enlarge Magic’s 1985 NBA Finals Storyboard. This was the series in which the Lakers famously, “defeated the Garden curse!” Magic averaged 18 points and 14 assists, while leading each game in assists, to propel Los Angeles to victory. This was one of the great “revenge Finals” in league history.
6) Magic Johnson – 1987 NBA Finals – LAL vs BOS
Click to enlarge Magic’s 1987 NBA Finals Storyboard. This was peak Magic right here! The 1986-87 Lakers won 65 games and won the Finals to cement themselves as one of the best teams in NBA history. Johnson’s scoring soared to a new level. In fact, he ranked 1st overall in points, assists and steals in this series. It’s no wonder why this series registers Magic’s highest RINGscore of his career.
7) Magic Johnson – 1988 NBA Finals – LAL vs DET
Click to enlarge Magic’s 1988 NBA Finals Storyboard. This would be Earvin’s last NBA championship victory. He led the Lakers over the upstart “Bad Boys” Pistons in a grueling 7-game series.
8) Magic Johnson – 1989 NBA Finals – LAL vs DET
Click to enlarge Magic’s 1989 NBA Finals Storyboard. This series marked the end of an era, as it was the final season of teammate Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s career. He and Magic both were ineffective in this series, as the “Bad Boys” Pistons won their first title in a sweep.
9) Magic Johnson – 1991 NBA Finals – LAL vs CHI
Click to enlarge Magic’s 1991 NBA Finals Storyboard. In Johnson’s last Finals, he squared off against the resurgent Chicago Bulls. Earvin led the series in assists, but was outplayed by the emerging Michael Jordan. MJ won his first NBA title in this series. Meanwhile, Magic concluded his incredible 9th Finals with an admirable performance.