1. EARVIN ‘MAGIC’ JOHNSON vs. Philadelphia 76ers, Game 6 NBA Finals, 1980
When league MVP Kareem Abdul-Jabbar went down with an ankle injury in Game 5 of the 1980 NBA Finals, the Lakers’ chance at winning the series was on unsteady ground. But something unexpected happened in Game 6: rookie Magic Johnson, a 6’9″ point guard, started at center for Abdul-Jabbar, scoring 42 points, grabbing 15 rebounds, giving out seven assists and playing all five positions at given points throughout the game. The 20-year-old won the NBA Finals MVP and remains the only rookie to have ever done so. That game provided the basketball world with an idea of just how wonderful his career (as a lifelong Laker, thank goodness) was going to be.
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