The Game: 1984 Finals, Game 2
The Series Situation: Los Angeles Lakers lead Boston Celtics, 1-0
The Play: With his team down 113-111, Boston guard Gerald Henderson intercepts James Worthy’s soft pass intended for Byron Scott and drives in for a game-tying layup. Magic Johnson inexplicably dribbles out the final seconds of regulation and the Celtics win in OT, en route to taking the series and the NBA championship in seven games.
The Significance: The Celtics were on the verge of falling to 2-0 on their home court. Factor in the Game 3 “massacre” they suffered in L.A., and it’s not surprising Larry Bird later said they probably would have been swept if not for Henderson’s steal. It was the most pivotal moment in the much-anticipated first NBA playoff meeting of Bird and Magic Johnson, setting up Bird calling his teammates “sissies” after Game 3, Kevin McHale’s famous clothesline takedown of Kurt Rambis in Game 4 and Cedric Maxwell’s clutch 24-point performance in Game 7. Henderson’s well-timed flash into the passing lane ranks alongside memorable steals by Bird and John Havlicek in Boston history and dwarfs what was a more solid career than many folks remember (8.9 ppg, 3.6 apg in 871 career games for seven teams).
— Steve Aschburner
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