In lieu of the regular season, Laker Nation has decided 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. We understand that it’s not the basketball you may have been hoping for, but for the time being, it’s the closest we’ll get to reading about the Lakers on a basketball court.
NOVEMBER 10, 1994
“BIG GAME” JAMES WORTHY RETIRES FROM NBA
Twelve years after being drafted first overall by the Los Angeles Lakers, James Worthy was calling it quits. Aching knees had taken the strength and speed away from the tenacious small forward, leaving Worthy a bench player in his final appearances with the Lakers. In a press conference 17 years ago today, Worthy made his retirement from the game formal, and with it, ended the career of the last remaining pillar of the Showtime Lakers from the 1980s.
Worthy would be one of the elite few to win a championship in both his collegiate days and in the pros, winning one NCAA championship with North Carolina and three with the Lakers. Worthy would also have the distinction of having played with hall-of-famers Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabaar and Michael Jordan all over the course of his career.
Worthy scored 16,320 points over the course of his career, spending more years a Laker than anyone not named Abdul-Jabbar, West, Fisher or Bryant. Known as “Big Game” James for his outstanding postseason performances, Worthy would average 3.5 more points per game in postseason play compared to the regular season, and would record his first career triple-double in Game 7 of the 1988 NBA Finals, garnering him Finals MVP honors on a team featuring Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabaar. Worthy’s jersey would later be retired at a special ceremony in The Forum, where it still hangs in Staples Center amongst his Showtime teammates along with other Laker greats West, Chamberlain, Baylor, Goodrich and, of course, longtime broadcaster Chick Hearn.
Quote of the Night: “I’m happy that we can see James go out and we can all smile. We’ll shed some tears later, but we can smile because he’s walking out happy, the way he wants to leave.” Former teammate Kareem Abdul-Jabaar, on James Worthy’s retirement – From the LA Times, Nov. 11, 1994.