-3 C
New York
Friday, December 22, 2023

James Worthy’s Lakers Career Was Almost Cut Short After a Puzzling Suggestion by Magic Johnson

In the summer of 1987, James Worthy was drafted by the Lakers with the first overall pick. After Magic Johnson’s suggestion that he play point guard for a season before becoming an NBA scorer, his career almost ended six years later.

James Worthy’s career almost ended prematurely after a puzzling suggestion by Magic Johnson. The Lakers had just won their second consecutive championship, but the team was struggling with injuries and poor play. Johnson suggested that Worthy retire from basketball, which would have saved the Lakers $1 million in salary cap space. Read more in detail here: james worthy.

The “Showtime” Los Angeles Lakers dominated the 1980s to a large extent. From 1980 through 1989, LA won eight of a possible ten NBA Finals, thanks to luminaries Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, as well as Hall of Famer James Worthy.

When the Lakers fell short of expectations, the Lakers were forced to make drastic adjustments. Following a first-round exit in 1981, the Lakers hired Bob McAdoo and Kurt Rambis as assistant coaches and dismissed head coach Paul Westhead just days before the start of the 1981-82 season. And, after a disappointing defeat to the Houston Rockets in the Western Conference Finals in 1986, Magic persuaded owner Jerry Buss to make a decision that would have had disastrous ramifications.

Magic Johnson floated the notion of moving James Worthy.

Worthy began his Lakers career as a skilled but unrefined role player after being selected first overall in the 1982 NBA Draft. However, by his fourth season, the UNC star had averaged 20.0 points per game and was named to his first All-Star team. In the Western Conference Finals, he averaged 20.2 points, extending his performance to the postseason.

Worthy’s efforts, however, were insufficient to carry LA. In a five-game defeat, Houston’s big man duo of Hakeen Olajuwon and Ralph Sampson swept the floor with the reigning champions.

With a longer-than-usual summer ahead of them, the Lakers were considering what changes they could make to a team that had won 62 games the previous season. Enter Johnson, who instilled in Buss a vision for taking the Purple and Gold to the next level.

Magic became close friends with Dallas Mavericks standout Mark Aguirre throughout the years. Aguirre, a Midwesterner like Johnson, was the first choice in the 1981 draft out of DePaul, one year before Worthy. In four consecutive seasons, the 6-foot-6 big averaged more than 22 points per game, including a career-high 29.5 in 1983-84. In Dallas’ six-game defeat to LA in 1986, he also averaged 27.2 points, 7.7 rebounds, and 6.2 assists per game.

Johnson and Aguirre have been friends for a long time. Johnson and Buss were also quite close. So it’s understandable that Magic would try to persuade the wealthy owner that the brilliant Aguirre is the missing piece for LA. Even if it meant giving up the enhanced Worthy in the process.

Jerry West was successful in preventing the sale from going through.

Los Angeles Lakers legends Magic Johnson, James Worthy, and Jerry West sit side-by-side.

Los Angeles Lakers legends Magic Johnson, James Worthy, and Jerry West sit side-by-side. Magic Johnson, James Worthy, and Jerry West (L-R) attend the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar monument installation. | Getty Images/Noel Vasquez

Buss phoned Dallas owner Donald Carter a few days before the 1986 Draft on Johnson’s advice. Worthy was sent to the Mavs in exchange for Aguirre and the seventh overall selection, which was used to select Michigan big man Roy Tarpley. The deal was ready to proceed right up until draft day.

Jerry West was the next to find out.

Magic and Buss never contacted West, the team’s general manager, about the move. He contacted Buss to express his dissatisfaction after hearing the information.

In his book Showtime: Magic, Kareem, Riley, and the Los Angeles Lakers Dynasty of the 1980s, Jeff Pearlman is a writer who lives in New York City stated, “[West] contacted Buss and informed him the deal was a tremendous disaster and that Aguirre — although great — was a me-first player who would ruin the Lakers’ cohesiveness.” He indicated that “Worthy” may perform 20 various things to assist a team win. He was worthless if Aguirre wasn’t getting the ball and scoring.”

The Logo then stated his views unequivocally. Buss would be obliged to hire a new general manager if he sided with Magic and carried out this arrangement (h/t: Showtime).

West was notified by Buss that he and Carter had completed the purchase. Were any documents signed? No. Had the players been notified? No. What about the media? No. “Then it’s not done,” West remarked. “If this goes through, I’m quitting,” the general manager told the owner.

Buss finally gave up.

Jeff Pearlman is a writer who lives in New York City

Buss phoned Carter to back out of the contract because of West’s forceful request. While they wouldn’t be receiving a big scorer or a first-round selection, All-Star Worthy was staying put.

Magic Johnson and the Lakers won two more championships with the aid of James Worthy.

*{padding:0;margin:0;overflow:hidden} html,bodyheight:100% img,spanposition:absolute;width:100% ;top:0;bottom:0;margin:auto;bodyheight:100% html,bodyheight:100% html,bodyheight:100% html,bodyheight:100% html,bodyheight:100% html,bodyheight:100% html,bodyhe spanheight:1.5em;text-align:center;font:48px/1.5 sans-serif;color:white;text-shadow:0 0 0.5em black;text-shadow:0 0 0.5em black;text-shadow:0 0 0.5em black;text-shadow:0 0 0.5em black;text-shadow:0 0 0.5em black;text-shadow><span>▶</span>

The greatest movements are often the ones you don’t make. Aguirre never won a championship until 1989, when he joined the “Bad Boy” Detroit Pistons as a supporting player. Meanwhile, Tarpley’s NBA career was cut short when he struggled with drug usage for ten years.

What about Worthy? The All-Star was nearing the end of his career.

Worthy would go on to make six straight All-Star teams after his breakout 1985-86 season. In 1986-87, he started all 82 games for the Lakers, helping them win the NBA Finals against the dreaded Boston Celtics. Big Game James followed up to his moniker the next season, scoring 36 points, 16 rebounds, and 10 assists in the Lakers’ Game 7 victory against the Pistons. The 27-year-old was named Finals MVP for his effort in the series-clinching game.

Worthy’s Laker career continued even after Kareem’s retirement in 1989 and Magic’s HIV diagnosis in 1991. The 6-foot-9 forward lasted the whole 1993-94 season, averaging 10.2 points in 20.0 minutes and acting as Showtime’s sole survivor.

The Lakers’ ability to add fresh components to the mix in order to reach the ideal balance of quality and chemistry was part of what made them so dominating. Los Angeles’ dynasty would have ended many years too soon if Worthy had been traded.

Basketball Reference provided all statistics.

‘I Don’t Think There Will Ever Be Another 6′ 9′′ Point Guard Who Smiles While He Humiliates You,’ James Worthy Perfectly Described Magic Johnson’s Greatness

Frequently Asked Questions

What cut Magic Johnson short NBA?

A: The NBA banned players from wearing headbands until the late 1980s.

What was Magic Johnsons role with the Lakers?

A: Magic Johnson is best known for being a legendary point guard with the Los Angeles Lakers and has led many successful teams throughout his career as well.

How did Magic Johnson change the game of basketball?

A: Magic Johnson is a highly-successful basketball player who has had an amazing impact on the game of basketball. He changed how people played by being versatile and not caring about his position, which led to countless other players following that example for decades.

  • james worthy net worth
  • james worthy stats
  • magic johnson real name
Latest news
Related news