After winning the 1980 NBA Championship thanks to a ‘magical’ performance from rookie Earvin Johnson, the Los Angeles Lakers seemed poised to begin a run as the dominant new franchise in the NBA. But after a shocking first round exit in the 1981 playoffs, and a season-ending injury to Mitch Kupchak midway through the 1981-82 season, that expected dominance became much more of a question mark.
With Kupchak gone, however, the Lakers were in dire need of another big man. And as the Lakers always seem to do, they found their man in five time All-Star Bob McAdoo. On Christmas Eve of 1981, the Lakers acquired the future Hall of Famer from the New Jersey Nets for a second round draft pick and cash.
The former scoring champion was thought to be past his prime after a couple of injury-riddled seasons, but McAdoo immediately thrived in his new role as the Lakers sixth man and in the 1982 playoffs McAdoo would average nearly 17 points and seven rebounds off the bench in helping the Lakers to their second championship in three years.
McAdoo would continue his stellar play for the Lakers for three more years, consistently raising his game when it mattered most, in the playoffs. McAdoo would earn another ring with the Lakers in 1985, again averaging double figure points in the playoffs.
The Lakers are known for their numerous star players such as Magic, Kareem, West, Baylor, Shaq, and Kobe. But it is the role players like Derek Fisher, Robert Horry, Mychal Thompson, Byron Scott, and McAdoo that made these Laker teams legendary, and championship teams.
Championship teams are made, not only with stars, but with the supporting cast. And on this Throwback Thursday, we remember one of the best role players in Laker History, Bob McAdoo.
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