The 1984 Draft was one for the ages, yielding future Hall of Famers 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.
Before the season, the Clippers moved from San Diego before the season and joined the Lakers in Los Angeles, and the league began operating under a salary cap system.
During the regular season, Boston was the class of the East with 63 victories, and 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.
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.
The Lakers had endured an offseason of questions about how they had let the 1984 title slip right through their fingers. Johnson in particular seemed to use every game as a stepping stone toward a rematch with the Celtics.
L.A. won 62 games and easily dispatched Phoenix, Portland and Denver to reach The Finals. Boston had beaten Cleveland, Detroit and Philadelphia to make it a return Finals engagement.
Ex-Laker Wilt Chamberlain had two 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, Abdul-Jabbar and 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.
Eastern Conference first round
Boston defeated Cleveland (3-1)
Milwaukee defeated Chicago (3-1)
Philadelphia defeated Washington (3-1)
Detroit defeated New Jersey (3-1)
Western Conference first round
Los Angeles Lakers defeated Phoenix (3-0)
Denver defeated San Antonio (3-2)
Utah defeated Houston (3-2)
Portland defeated Dallas (3-1)
Eastern Conference semifinals
Boston defeated Detroit (4-2)
Philadelphia defeated Milwaukee (4-0)
Western Conference semifinals
Los Angeles Lakers defeated Portland (4-1)
Denver defeated Utah (4-1)
Eastern Conference finals
Boston defeated Philadelphia (4-1)
Western Conference finals
Los Angeles Lakers defeated Denver (4-1)
Los Angeles Lakers defeated Boston (4-2)
Points — Bernard King, New York Knicks (32.9)
Assists — Isiah Thomas, Detroit Pistons (13.9)
Rebounds — Moses Malone, Philadelphia 76ers (13.1)
Steals — Michael Ray Richardson, New Jersey Nets (3.0)
Blocks — Mark Eaton, Utah Jazz (5.6)
FG % — James Donaldson, LA Clippers (63.7)
FT % — Kyle Macy, Phoenix Suns (90.7)
3PT % — Byron Scott, Los Angeles Lakers (43.3)
Most Valuable Player — Larry Bird, Boston Celtics
Rookie of the Year — Michael Jordan, Chicago Bulls
Defensive Player of the Year — Mark Eaton, Utah Jazz
Sixth Man of the Year — Kevin McHale, Boston Celtics
Coach of the Year — Don Nelson, Milwaukee Bucks
All-Star Game MVP — Ralph Sampson, Houston Rockets
Finals MVP — Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Los Angeles Lakers