Former Los Angeles Lakers star point guard Magic Johnson recently spoke with Jalen Rose about how he remembered crying for three months after Los Angeles lost to Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and the Boston Celtics in the 1984 NBA Finals.
🗣 @MagicJohnson opens up about losing the 1984 Finals and how he grinded in the offseason to help the @Lakers win the championship the following year.#RenaissanceMan #MagicJohnson #Lakers #NBAFinals pic.twitter.com/gFCUEIFzTb
— Jalen Rose (@JalenRose) September 23, 2023
“This was the first time I made critical mistakes for us to lose that championship,” Johnson said. “So I cried, Jalen, for three months, all summer I cried because I let my teammates down. I was the reason why we lost the championship. But the first thing I had to do, Jalen, was identify and say to myself, ‘I’m not as good as I thought I was.'”
Johnson was selected with the No. 1 overall pick in the 1979 NBA Draft after a two-season stint playing college basketball at Michigan State University. He won the 1979 NCAA title as a member of the Spartans.
The 6-foot-9 point guard played 13 seasons in the NBA, all as a member of the storied Lakers franchise. He averaged 19.5 points, 7.2 rebounds, 11.2 assists and 1.9 steals per game across 906 regular-season games played with the Lakers (763 starts).
Johnson built one of the most impressive resumes of any player in NBA history during his decade-plus stint in the league. He was a 12-time All-Star, 10-time All-NBA selection, three-time MVP, two-time All-Star MVP, two-time steals champion, four-time assists champion and a member of the NBA’s 75th Anniversary Team.
But, most importantly, Johnson led the Lakers to five NBA titles in 1980, 1982, 1985, 1987 and 1988.
Johnson’s first title in 1980 came when he was just a rookie. The Lakers defeated Julius Erving and the Philadelphia 76ers in six games in the 1980 NBA Finals, and Johnson was named Finals MVP. He averaged 21.5 points, 11.2 rebounds and 8.7 assists per game during the championship series.
Johnson and the Lakers also beat the 76ers in six games in the 1982 NBA Finals.
The point guard beat Bird, McHale, Robert Parish and the Celtics to win his next two titles in 1985 and 1987. His best NBA Finals series against Boston came in 1987, as Johnson averaged 26.2 points and 13.0 assists per game for the series, and the Lakers eliminated the Celtics in six games.
Johnson’s final NBA title in 1988 came against Isiah Thomas, Joe Dumars and the Detroit Pistons. The Lakers eliminated the Pistons in seven games, as they won Game 7 of the 1988 NBA Finals by a final score of 108-105.
While the former Lakers star underperformed in the 1984 NBA Finals, at least by his standards, Johnson went on to win three more NBA titles after losing to the Celtics.