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(Los Angeles Lakers)
|Eastern Finals:||76ers defeated Celtics, 4–1|
|Western Finals:||Lakers defeated SuperSonics, 4–1|
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was the league's MVP, but midway through Game 5, the Lakers center suffered a severely sprained ankle. He managed to come back in the game in the fourth quarter to lead the Lakers to victory and a 3–2 lead in the best-of-seven series. But the Lakers still had to travel to Philadelphia for Game 6. Abdul-Jabbar was listed as out of Game 6, although 76ers coach Billy Cunningham was quoted as saying "I won't believe he's not playing until their plane lands and he's not on it." As it turned out, Kareem did not make the trip and was listed as doubtful if Game 7 had been needed.
In Game 6, Magic Johnson played what may have been the greatest game of his career. Playing on the road, Johnson (a 6'9" rookie point guard) started the game at center and eventually played all five positions in a dominating performance. Scoring a game-high 42 points and grabbing a game-high 15 rebounds—and handing out seven assists— Johnson led the Lakers to the NBA crown. The Lakers also received strong performances from Jamaal Wilkes with 37 points and 10 rebounds, and Norm Nixon. Jim Chones played strong defense on 76ers center Darryl Dawkins, while Mark Landsberger provided rebounding off the bench, and little used Brad Holland chipped in eight key points.
Magic Johnson's performance in Game 6 and the series earned him the 1980 NBA Finals Most Valuable Player (MVP). What made Johnson's performance even more remarkable was that he was an NBA rookie—and, indeed, one who had left college after only two years, and was only 20 years old. "Jamaal Wilkes had an unbelievable game", said Johnson in 2011. "Everybody talked about my 42 [points], but it was also his [37-point effort]."
In Game 4 of the 1980 Finals, Julius Erving executed the legendary Baseline Move, a behind-the-board reverse layup that seemed to defy gravity. Play-by-play announcer Brent Musburger has noted that Erving made such moves almost routinely in his ABA days—but the ABA had no national TV contract in those days. This Game 4 move, played to a national audience in a title game, has probably become Julius Erving's most famous move.
This was also the first NBA Finals to make use of the three-point line, which debuted that season.
1980 NBA Playoffs
|Los Angeles Lakers (Western Conference Champion)||Philadelphia 76ers (Eastern Conference Champion)|
1st Pacific, 1st West, 2nd Overall
|Regular season||59–23 (.720)
2nd Atlantic, 3rd East, 3rd Overall
|Earned first-round bye||First Round||Defeated the (6) Washington Bullets, 2–0|
|Defeated the (4) Phoenix Suns, 4–1||Conference Semifinals||Defeated the (2) Atlanta Hawks, 4–1|
|Defeated the (3) Seattle SuperSonics, 4–1||Conference Finals||Defeated the (1) Boston Celtics, 4–1|
|Game||Date||Home Team||Result||Away Team|
|Game 1||May 4||Los Angeles||109–102||Philadelphia|
|Game 2||May 7||Los Angeles||104–107||Philadelphia|
|Game 3||May 10||Philadelphia||101–111||Los Angeles|
|Game 4||May 11||Philadelphia||105–102||Los Angeles|
|Game 5||May 14||Los Angeles||108–103||Philadelphia|
|Game 6||May 16||Philadelphia||107–123||Los Angeles|