The 1990-91 season put the Los Angeles Lakers in a tough spot as it was clear that the Showtime days were coming to an end. Magic Johnson and the Lakers were led by rookie head coach Mike Dunleavy and only added Sam Perkins to an already aging roster.
The expectations, however, were still sky-high from fans. Some doubts were put to rest as the Lakers went 58-24. They carried that success into the NBA playoffs, sweeping the Houston Rockets in the first round and then defeating the Golden State Warriors four games to one.
But the real test came in the Western Conference Finals, where the Lakers were underdogs to the Portland Trail Blazers. Portland started the season 20-1 and finished 63-19, to earn the No. 1 seed in the conference.
With the Lakers holding a 3-2 series lead, they went into Game 6 on May 30, 1991, looking to punch their ticket to the NBA Finals. They did just that, pulling out a 91-90 victory that sent off a celebration at the Great Western Forum.
Magic Johnson and Sam Perkins each played over 45 minutes and combined for 51 of the Lakers’ 91 points. Johnson also added 11 rebounds and eight assists in typical Magic fashion. In addition, A.C. Green contributed 15 points in 23 minutes off the bench.
Sadly, the Lakers went on to be defeated by the Chicago Bulls in the first of what would become six titles in eight years for Michael Jordan and company. The 1991 season also marked Johnson’s final full year as he retired that summer.
While this would mark the end of Showtime, this aging roster found a way to still earn a Finals appearance against the Bulls. And this day in Lakers history gave us one of the last ever truly vintage Magic Johnson performances.
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