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Wednesday, November 19, 2003
Lakers' Magic trick (42 points) clinches title
By Larry Schwartz
Special to

May 16, 1980

With Lakers center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar watching Game 6 of the NBA Finals from his living room, 3,000 miles from tonight's game in Philadelphia, his sprained left ankle propped up on a coffee table, it would take magic for Los Angeles to win the championship. But the Lakers get plenty of Magic, and the result is a 123-107 triumph and a title.

Replacing Abdul-Jabbar at center, is 20-year-old Magic Johnson, normally the Lakers' point guard. All Magic does is score 42 points (14-of-23 from the field, 14-of-14 from the foul line), grab 15 rebounds and dish off for seven assists. "I don't even know if Kareem could have done things Magic did tonight," says the 76ers' Julius Erving. "The kid's a player."

A player of all positions. He plays low-post center, high-post center, power forward, small forward, point guard, shooting guard. "Magic is no rookie," says teammate Jamaal Wilkes, who scores 37. "He's a winner, a champion, something very, very special."

It's Magic's third championship in four seasons. As a high school senior, he led his team to the Michigan state title and last year, as a sophomore at Michigan State, he took the Spartans to the NCAA crown. After tonight's win, the Finals MVP doesn't forget the man he replaced at center. "I know your ankle hurts, Kareem," Magic says, "but why don't you get up and dance, anyway?"

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