NBA Top Moments: 1980s

Magic Johnson (right) and Larry Bird shaped many of the NBA’s storylines in the 1980s.

Top Moments: 1940s & 50s | 1960s | 1970s | 1980s | 1990s | 2000s | 2010s takes a look back at the top moments that define the history of the NBA.

The Bird And Magic Show (1980s)

1980: Doctor Hangs One on the Lakers

In Game 4 of the 1980 NBA Finals against the Los Angeles Lakers, Dr. J. stunned everyone with an amazing reverse layup.

1980: Magic Center of Attention in NBA Finals

Magic Johnson, the Lakers’ 20-year-old, 6-8 point guard, filled in at center for the injured Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in Game 6 of the NBA Finals and led L.A. to the title.

1981: The Instinctive Genius of Larry Bird

Boston Celtics president Red Auerbach called Larry Bird’s heads-up move in Game 1 of the NBA Finals against the Rockets ” the greatest play I’ve ever seen.”

1984: Kareem Becomes NBA’s All-Time Scorer

On April 5, 1984, in a game against the Utah Jazz in Las Vegas, Nev., Kareem Abdul-Jabbar sank another sky-hook — but this one proved historic.

1984: Henderson’s Steal Saves the Celtics

There have been three historic steals in the storied history of the Boston Celtics but only Gerald Henderson’s theft came in the NBA Finals.

1985: Aging Abdul-Jabbar Finds Youth

At age 38, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar finds the fountain of youth against Boston, leading the Lakers to an NBA Championship.

1986: Sampson Stuns the Lakers

In the year of Houston’s Twin Towers, Ralph Sampson’s last-second shot ended the Los Angeles Lakers’ season.

1986: ‘God Disguised as Michael Jordan

That’s how Boston’s Larry Bird described what he saw on the night Jordan scored an NBA playoff-record 63 points against the Celtics.

1987: Bird Picks Pistons’ Pockets

Larry Bird stole an inbounds pass thrown by Detroit’s Isiah Thomas and fed it to a cutting Dennis Johnson for the game-winning layup in Game 6 of the East Finals.

1987: Magic’s Junior, Junior Sky-Hook Beats Boston

With Game 4 of the NBA Finals on the line, Magic Johnson did his best Kareem Abdul-Jabbar impersonation, sinking a sweet sky hook for the game-winner.

1988: Jordan and Wilkins Battle for Dunk Title

The 1988 Slam Dunk contest came down to the wire as Dominique Wilkins and hometown favorite Michael Jordan faced off for dunk title honors.

1988: Shootout in Boston Garden

In Game 7 of the 1988 Eastern Conference Semifinals, Dominique Wilkins and Larry Bird went head to head down the stretch in an unforgettable scoring shootout.

1988: Heroic Isiah Hobbles to Finals Record

In the 1988 Finals against the Lakers, not even a sprained ankle could stop Isiah Thomas from scoring a record 25 points in the third quarter of Game 6.

1988: Riley Guarantees a Repeat

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

1989: Michael Jordan Downs the Cavs

It is known, in Chicago and especially in Cleveland, as “The Shot,” and Michael Jordan’s game-winning jumper was among the first of his numerous clutch shots.