Lakers' great James Worthy talks about entering the Hall of Fame
A Worthy Hall Entrant
On Friday Sept. 5, James Worthy and Robert Parish, two of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History, will be enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame along with five other basketball greats, including African-American basketball pioneer Earl Lloyd and late Lakers broadcasting icon Chick Hearn.
"Big Game James," who spent 12 seasons with the Lakers -- with whom he won three NBA titles and the 1988 Finals MVP -- sat down with the media on the Tuesday before he entered the Hall and talked about his accomplishment, his feelings for Hearn and what it was like to play against Parish.
What does making the Hall of Fame mean to you?
"To go in with Robert Parish, who Iíve had many wars against and respected ever since his days at Centenary. Also, Chick Hearn, who gave me my nickname, 'Big Game James.' Also, Mr. Earl Lloyd, who kind of represents the history and made a lot of sacrifices for guys like myself and Robert."
Was there a "hatred" between the Celtics and Lakers in the 1980s?"Hatred would be a strong word. We really respected each other. A lot of people didnít realize that the Lakers and the Celtics had the utmost respect for one another and probably feared each other the most. We knew we were equally talented and we knew that we balanced each other out on the floor, and there had to be an edge.
"And the young guys, with the exception of Kareem (Abdul-Jabbar), really didnít understand that rivalry that the Celtics and the Lakers had back when the Celtics were dominating the league in the Ď60s and early Ď70s. It wasnít until Larry (Bird) and Magic (Johnson) faced off again that the whole history was conjured up and put on our shoulders, and it was an overwhelming experience for me."
What was your best moment against the Celtics in those three Finals series?"My best probably would have been winning for the first time in 1985 in Boston. And really knocking out the cobwebs that had been over L.A. and over the Great Western Forum and way back in the Sports Arena days when Jerry West and Elgin Baylor and Wilt Chamberlain never could overcome the Celtics. That probably was my fondest memory. "
What was the worst?"The worst actually started out to be my best. It was in 1984 when we lost to the Celtics in seven. We were coming off of a pretty tough series with the Phoenix Suns and (we had) to fly into Boston on one dayís rest. We were able to win Game 1 (against the Celtics). That was all we wanted to do with the first two games in Boston.
"We had a chance to win Game 2 with about six or seven seconds to go and we were under the Celticsí basket. Magic threw the ball back to me after being double-teamed and I panicked and tried to make a cross-court pass. Gerald Henderson intercepted the ball and laid it up and the score was tied. They went into overtime and beat us to tie it up 1-1, and they went on to win that series. Obviously, if we had gone up 2-0, we probably would have gone back to L.A. and maybe capped off the series."
What was it like to play against Robert Parish?"My first memory of Robert Parish was from around eighth or ninth grade when Centenary came to Charlotte to play UNC-Charlotte. The center for the 49ers was Cedric 'Cornbread' Maxwell. It was one of the biggest games that area ever saw. A 7-0, (Parish) exemplified everything I wanted to be. And I thought it was very cool that he wore double zero.
"Robert brought a lot of stability to the Celtics in the paint. He was versatile. He was quiet, a quiet assassin. He was a great defender and one of the greatest defensive rebounders. He was a scorer who could get up and down the floor. He provided a lot of stability and he and Kareem were great centers."
How special is it for you to enter the Hall with the late Chick Hearn?"Chick will be a part of (my speech). He gave me my nickname, Big Game James. And not only that, Chick was a bridge-gapper. He was the type of person that created harmony and togetherness throughout this city, with his announcing and his ability to reach people, and his ability to understand the common folk, and that was something I always respected and learned from Chick was that regardless of his environment, he was just a regular guy who could reach out to anybody. That was something that I learned very early from him."
NBA.com is part of Bleacher Report - Turner Sports Network, part of the Turner Sports and Entertainment Network. Advertise on NBA.com | Career Opportunities | Help