History

NBA Top Moments: 1980s

Take a look back at iconic moments in NBA history from the 1980s.

From NBA.com Staff

Top Moments: 1940s & 50s | 1960s | 1970s | 1980s | 1990s | 2000s | 2010s

NBA.com 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, Julius Erving stunned everyone with an amazing reverse layup.

1980: Magic becomes the center of attention

Magic Johnson, the Lakers’ 20-year-old, 6-foot-9 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: A must-see hustle play from 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: Abdul-Jabbar becomes NBA’s No. 1 scorer

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

1984: Henderson’s steal saves 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 in The Finals

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

1986: Sampson stuns Lakers with buzzer-beater

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’ sinks Celtics

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: Wilkins, Bird square off in memorable Game 7

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 Thomas hobbles to a 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 championship repeat

Coach Pat Riley made good on his promise as the Lakers won back-to-back championships in 1987 and 1988.

1989: Jordan’s shot at buzzer puts away Cleveland

Michael Jordan’s game-winning jumper is known in Chicago, and especially in Cleveland, as “The Shot.”

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