This Day in Laker History: December 17th

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Now with basketball back in action, Laker Nation has decided to continue to take you back through Laker history to recap important games, record-breaking performances and memorable news from the past 64 years of the franchise.

DECEMBER 17, 1991

Magic Johnson was the main piece missing from an NBA Finals rematch with the Chicago Bulls in December of 1991, but the way that Michael Jordan was playing would have led you to believe His Airness had disappeared as well. With Magic Johnson watching from the stands, following his retirement one month earlier, the Lakers would find a way to flip the script on a Bulls team that had rocked them in the Finals just months before.

Former Lakers coach Mike Dunleavy, whose aging squad had been torn up in the previous summer’s NBA Finals by the more athletic Bulls, employed a lineup of four forwards, negating the Bulls screen game, negating the personnel mismatches, and negating the Bulls offense. The Bulls would shoot 41% for the game, but most noticeable would be the 6-for-20 shooting day of Michael Jordan. Possibly affected by a tough month in the media spotlight, Jordan would miss his final 10 shots in the game, none more embarrassing than a signature double-clutch dunk that would clang off the back iron during a fast break after stripping James Worthy of the ball.

Laker James Worthy would score a game-high 25 points, as five other Lakers would score in double digits, including new Laker Sedale Threatt, who in replacing Magic Johnson would score 18 points and dish out nine assists. The Lakers’ 102-89 win over the Bulls would move the purple and gold to 16-7, as the Dunleavy new-look Lakers would continue to win despite their former floor general in the stands.

Quote of the Night: “You’re going to make him leave the game earlier than he wants to. Mark my words. He doesn’t need the money…and then you’ll never see another one like him.” – Retired Laker guard Magic Johnson, on Michael Jordan’s tough month in the media spotlight. - From the LA Times, Dec. 18, 1991

James Cypert is a news and feature writer for When he's not perfecting his ill-advised Kareem-style sky-hook, you can find him on Laker Nation or follow him on Twitter.