Coming off a season in which they won the NBA Championship, the Los Angeles Lakers stormed their way to the best overall record (62-20) and top seed heading into the 1988 playoffs.
The playoffs looked to be a breeze, but quickly turned into a grueling battle. The Lakers, on the road to another NBA Finals appearance, needed two seven-game series against the Utah Jazz and Dallas Mavericks to get there.
Once in the Finals, they faced another tough test in the ‘bad boy’ Detroit Pistons. Led by Isiah Thomas, the Pistons got 54 wins and earned the second seed in the East. The Pistons also had a difficult road to the Finals, as they faced an elimination game in the first round against the Washington Bullets.
The series between the Lakers and Pistons was a battle from the start. They split the first two games, each winning by 12 points. Detroit then took a 3-2 series lead, when the Lakers won by just one point to force a Game 7 at the Great Western Forum, which was played June 21, 1988.
Although the Lakers had Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, it was James Worthy who stole the show. Worthy dazzled with his first career triple-double, scoring 36 points, grabbing 16 rebounds and dishing out 10 assists.
This Hall-of-Fame performance helped lead the Lakers a 108-105 victory and they became the first team in 20 years to win back-to-back NBA titles.
Johnson added 19 points and 14 assists, while Byron Scott poured in 21 points of his own. This title was the final one of the Showtime era and officially cemented Johnson’s, Worthy’s and Jabbar’s place in history as one of the greatest trios to ever grace a court.
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