Champions: Lakers Fulfill Riley’s Repeat Pledge (Jun-21-1988)

June 1987

In their third battle in the NBA finals in four years, the Los Angeles Lakers won the rubber match beating the Boston Celtics 4-2.  During the victory parade in Los Angeles, Lakers coach Pat Riley guaranteed a repeat.

Laker guard Byron Scott believed it was a brilliant move.

Guaranteeing a championship was the best thing Pat ever did.  It set the stage in our minds. Work harder, be better. That’s the only way we could repeat.

1988

The Lakers (62-20) and Celtics (57-25) appeared to be on a collision course as they once again were the top seeds in their conference.  The Lakers were able to return to the NBA Finals, but only being pushed to seven games in the conference semis and finals.

The Celtics also were pushed to seven games in the conference semis against the Atlanta Hawks that culminated in a shootout between Larry Bird and Dominique Wilkins.   The Celtics, however, lost to the up and coming Detroit Pistons in the conference finals 4-2.

The series followed the 2-3-2 format, with the Pistons taking a 3-2 lead before 41,732 in their finale at the Pontiac Silverdome.  The Lakers narrowly escaped with a 103-102 win in Game 6 despite a 43-point performance by Piston guard Isiah Thomas (who injured his ankle during the game).  Kareem Abdul-Jabbar sank the winning free throws after what Piston fans called a “phantom foul” by Bill Laimbeer.

Game 7 was the most watched NBA game in history at the time.  Finals MVP James Worthy took over with 36 points, 16 rebounds and 10 assists in the only triple double of his career (and only second ever in a NBA Finals Game 7), as the Lakers overcame the Pistons 108-105.  The Pistons were largely without star Isiah Thomas whose Game 6 ankle injury limited him to only 10 points in 28 minutes.

With the win, the Lakers became the first team since the 1968-69 Celtics to repeat as champions.  Riley wisely did not guaranty a three-peat, as this was the fifth and final title for the Showtime Era Lakers.

Epilogue

The Pistons would sweep the Lakers in their rematch in the 1989 NBA Finals in Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s final season.  Pat Riley would step down after the 1990 season.

The following season, under Coach Dunleavey, the core team of Magic Johnson, James Worthy and Byron Scott returned to the NBA Finals, losing 4-1 to Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls (their first title).

The Lakers would not return to the NBA Finals until 2000 when Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant led the team to a 4-2 victory over Indiana.


REGULAR SEASON

Per Game Table
Rk Age MP TRB AST STL BLK PTS/G
1 Byron Scott 26 37.6 4.1 4.1 1.9 0.3 21.7
2 Magic Johnson 28 36.6 6.2 11.9 1.6 0.2 19.6
3 James Worthy 26 35.4 5.0 3.9 1.0 0.7 19.7
4 A.C. Green 24 32.1 8.7 1.1 1.1 0.5 11.4
5 Michael Cooper 31 29.4 3.7 4.7 1.1 0.4 8.7
6 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar 40 28.9 6.0 1.7 0.6 1.2 14.6
7 Mychal Thompson 33 25.1 6.1 0.8 0.5 1.0 11.6
8 Tony Campbell 25 18.6 2.1 1.2 0.8 0.2 11.0
9 Wes Matthews 28 13.8 1.3 2.7 0.5 0.1 5.7
10 Kurt Rambis 29 12.1 3.8 0.8 0.6 0.2 4.0
11 Milt Wagner 24 9.5 0.7 1.5 0.2 0.1 3.8
12 Mike Smrek 25 8.8 1.8 0.2 0.1 0.9 2.8
13 Ray Tolbert 29 5.9 1.4 0.4 0.2 0.2 3.0
14 Billy Thompson 24 4.2 1.0 0.1 0.1 0.0 1.6
15 Jeff Lamp 28 2.3 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.7
Provided by Basketball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/21/2017.

NBA FINALS

Los Angeles Lakers Basic Stats Table
Per Per Per Per Per Per
Rk Player Age MP PTS TRB AST STL BLK
1 James Worthy 26 38.0 22.0 7.4 4.4 0.7 0.6
2 Magic Johnson 28 41.4 21.1 5.7 13.0 2.0 0.1
3 Byron Scott 26 40.1 18.9 4.9 2.0 1.0 0.4
4 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar 40 29.6 13.1 4.1 1.0 0.6 1.1
5 A.C. Green 24 34.6 10.0 8.7 0.6 0.4 0.0
6 Mychal Thompson 33 21.6 7.0 3.6 0.3 0.0 0.4
7 Michael Cooper 31 25.1 3.7 1.6 2.1 0.9 0.3
8 Tony Campbell 25 7.0 4.0 0.5 0.5 0.0 0.0
9 Wes Matthews 28 2.3 1.5 0.0 0.0 0.3 0.0
10 Kurt Rambis 29 6.6 1.2 1.6 0.0 0.2 0.0
11 Mike Smrek 25 3.0 0.0 1.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
12 Milt Wagner 24 2.5 0.0 0.0 0.5 0.0 0.0
Team Totals 26.8 240.0 98.7 37.6 23.7 5.9 3.0
Provided by Basketball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/21/2017.
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