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 2, 1983
DALLAS MAVERICKS 133 – LA LAKERS 118
SHOWTIME STILTED AS MAGIC BREAKS FINGER, OUT FOR FIVE WEEKS
By the 1983-84 season, Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and the Lakers were perennial favorites to make the NBA Finals. With Magic leading the league in assists and the Lakers sailing with a 12-4 record, only injuries could really stop the Lakers from playing in June. And while the Lakers would end up reaching the 1984 NBA Finals, their early-season scare against the Dallas Mavericks would display their fragile mortality.
Halfway through the fourth quarter and down by five points to the visiting Mavericks, Magic’s attempt to deflect a pass away from the Mavericks’ Derek Harper would yield huge consequences; catching his hand in the deflection, Magic would dislocate and lacerate his right index finger. As Magic was assisted off the court by training staff, Laker guard Byron Scott described Magic’s hand worriedly, noting “the bone was pulled all the way back”, with center Kareem Abdul-Jabber commenting on the injury as not only “major”, but “really grotesque”. With 5:42 remaining in the game, the Lakers were trailing 112-107, as Magic left for Centinela Hospital for X-rays.
With their emotional leader gone, the Lakers were hard-pressed to rally. Dallas would outscore the Lakers 21-11 in the final six minutes, and the Lakers would fall to the Mavericks 133-118. Magic would be required to wear a cast on his right hand for three weeks, and would not be able to return to action until mid-January – the Lakers, meanwhile, would go 7-6 in Johnson’s absence. While the injury would limit the Lakers for the next two months, there would be one bright spot from the injury: rookie point guard Byron Scott, who had been backing up Magic, would be placed into the starting lineup, giving him valuable playing experience in the absence of the Laker leader.
Quote of the Night: “I’m stunned. It didn’t look very good. He’s irreplaceable. If a player is needed, we definitely have to go out and look for another body. You can bring in another body, sure, but you can’t make up for his loss.” – Laker coach Pat Riley on losing Magic Johnson to injury in a 133-118 loss to the Dallas Mavericks. - From the LA Times, Dec. 3, 1983