In 1977 the Los Angeles Lakers drafted a senior guard from Duquesne University that would be a crucial player in their championship runs in 1980 and 1982. This 6’2” Duke was Norm Nixon, who averaged 17.4 points at his alma mater during his four years. Nixon was the Lakers’ 22nd pick in the first round, and would make an immediate impact on the team in his first year.
The Lakers were still feeling the loss of the retirement of Jerry West and the trade of Gail Goodrich when they drafted Nixon. After all, West and Goodrich were two of the best players in Lakers history. Nixon was a versatile guard with a high basketball IQ, impressive passing abilities, and a consistent capability to score.
At Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, he set the university’s record for career assists. On January 27, 2001, Duquesne retired his number at a halftime ceremony. The Lakers were looking for a playmaker in their backcourt, and the organization felt Norm Nixon was their answer.
The two years prior to the drafting of Magic Johnson, Nixon brought new life to the backcourt. As a reserve, he averaged 13.7 points per game and 6.8 assists per game during his rookie season.* In his second season, his averages jumped to 17.1 points per game and 9 assists per game.*
Nixon’s averages remained solid and his contributions to team wins continued throughout his tenure with the Lakers, which eventually resulted in being named a starter in his last two seasons with the Lakers (1981-1983).