Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

At 38, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar won another Finals MVP award and the Lakers finally beat Boston for an NBA title.


The 1984 NBA Draft was one for the ages, yielding Michael Jordan, Hakeem Olajuwon, Charles Barkley and John Stockton, as well as many other fine players. Olajuwon had been chosen first by Houston, Jordan third by Chicago, Barkley fifth by Philadelphia and Stockton 16th by Utah. Their impact would be felt for years to come. In New York, Bernard King clinched the scoring title (32.9 ppg) despite suffering a serious knee injury with 27 games left in the season.

But the NBA was focused intently on the Celtics-Lakers matchup. During the regular season, Boston was the class of the East with 63 victories, and Larry Bird enjoyed his best season to date, averaging 28.7 points, 10.5 rebounds and 6.6 assists per game. Each member of Boston's starting five -- Bird, Robert Parish, Kevin McHale, Dennis Johnson and Danny Ainge -- played in excess of 2,500 minutes during the season. The Lakers, meanwhile had endured a full offseason of questions about how they had let the title slip right through their fingers. Magic Johnson in particular seemed to use every game as a stepping stone toward a rematch with the Celtics. The Lakers won 62 games and easily dispatched Phoenix, Portland and Denver to reach the Finals. Boston had beaten Cleveland, Detroit and Philadelphia to make the Finals a return engagement. Led by the 38-year-old Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and a revitalized James Worthy, the Lakers rebounded from a horrible 148-114 defeat in Game 1 to win the series in six games. After eight losses to Boston in the NBA Finals, the Lakers won the clinching Game 6 on the parquet at Boston Garden.

LAKERS CLAIM CHAMPIONSHIP ON THE GARDEN'S PARQUET
Wilt Chamberlain had two NBA Championship rings. Jerry West got his in 1972. A ring was the only honor Elgin Baylor hadn't won in the NBA. But none of the great Lakers had known the sweet bliss of beating the Boston Celtics in an NBA Finals. Only the St. Louis Hawks of Bob Pettit in 1958 had ever beaten the Celtics in the Finals. Boston's response that time had been eight straight titles. Save for the 1958 Championship, the other 15 times the Celtics had made it to the Finals, they had gone home wearing rings.

It took a team with two of the NBA's all-time greats, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Magic Johnson, to put the leprechauns to sleep. The Lakers won two of the three games in Boston, including the final one, Game 6. The sound of silence in Boston Garden was sweet music, indeed, for generations of the frustrated Laker faithful.