Pat Riley

Coach Pat Riley made good on his promise as the Lakers won back-to-back Championships in '87 and '88.


The 1987-88 Los Angeles Lakers played through the season with even more pressure than usual for an NBA defending champion. At the celebration following the Lakers' 1987 title, Coach Pat Riley had guaranteed--not predicted, but guaranteed--a repeat championship in `88, a feat that had not been accomplished in 18 NBA seasons.

"Guaranteeing a championship was the best thing Pat ever did," reflected Lakers guard Byron Scott. "It set the stage in our minds. Work harder, be better. That's the only way we could repeat."

The Lakers marched to the NBA Finals, where they went up against the talented and hungry Detroit Pistons, who had finally gotten past rival Boston to appear in their first Finals.

The Pistons surprised the Lakers in Game 1 at the Forum and held a 3-2 lead heading back to Los Angeles following a 104-94 win before 41,732 at the Pontiac Silverdome.

But with the last two games on their home turf, the Lakers made good on Riley's brash guarantee. They survived a 25-point third-quarter explosion by Isiah Thomas, playing on a sprained ankle, no less, to take Game 6 103-102, then won Game 7 108-105 to capture their fifth championship of the 1980s.