In 1987, 30 minutes after the Lakers won the NBA championship, then-coach Pat Riley, announced he guaranteed the team would win it all in ’88 too.
Back to back? Didn’t Riley know no NBA team had done that since the 1968 and ’69 Boston Celtics?
The Lakers had already won four 1980s titles. Maybe Riley figured winning half the decade’s championships would be a good number.
And that’s exactly what they did, 11 years ago tonight.
For the Lakers, who had a league-best 62-20 record in the regular season, the foe was Detroit (54-28).
In a tough, almost combative finals, the Lakers were down 3-2 and needed both the last two games at the Forum.
They won Game 6, 103-102, then had to hold off a fourth-quarter Piston comeback to win the championship.
Detroit led by five as the second half opened, but the Lakers, driven by James Worthy, made their first 10 shots of the third quarter and entered the fourth quarter ahead by 10 points.
The Pistons rallied, and over the final minutes the Lakers were on the ropes, their 15-point lead early in the fourth quarter nearly evaporating when Detroit’s Bill Laimbeer made a three-point shot to trim L.A.'s advantage to 106-105 near the end. But that was it for the Pistons, who lost, 108-105.
Worthy, who had the first triple-double of his career--36 points, 16 rebounds and 10 assists--was the difference. He won the series’ most-valuable-player award.
Then the Lakers went to their locker room and muzzled their coach.
Also on this date: In 1947, Helsinki, Finland, was awarded the 1952 Olympic Games. . . . In 1959, Stan Musial got his 652nd and 653rd doubles to pass Honus Wagner for the career lead. . . . In 1963, Cleveland signed 43-year-old Early Wynn, who was one win away from 300. He got it July 13.