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.
NOVEMBER 27, 1980
LA LAKERS 128 – GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS 119
“WASHED UP” KAREEM DROPS 40 ON GOLDEN STATE
At 33 years of age, Laker center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar wasn’t moving like he used to. He was having career lows in points, rebounds and shooting percentage, and his teammates were beginning to take notice. In fact, Abdul-Jabbar was more than aware of his own mortality:
I’m not shooting the ball real well right now, I don’t know why.”
With the Los Angeles press and teammates beginning to sour on their aging center, the Lakers traveled up to Oakland to play the Golden State Warriors. Laker guard and playmaker Magic Johnson, in the hospital following surgery on torn cartilage in his knee, would miss the game, but from his hospital bed would give the Laker press more fuel for the fire:
A lot of things are happening to distract Kareem. I think he comes to play, but it’s not working. He misses a shot and you can tell he gets down on himself, then he plays badder…”
Abdul-Jabbar’s response? Nothing verbal, but a 40-point, 11-rebound performance said it all. Shooting 15-for-22 from the field, Abdul-Jabbar would lead the Lakers to a 123-119 victory over the Golden State Warriors, including a crucial signature skyhook with 1:50 left in the game to cement the win. Backup guard Michael Cooper, in Magic Johnson’s absence, would score 16 points. When asked after the game about his “recent siege of fatigue” (that has caused him to miss a practice in addition to his in-season funk), Abdul-Jabbar revealed that his exhaustion was due to the birth of his son one week prior. Abdul-Jabbar would go on to play eight more seasons in the NBA, winning four more championships with the Lakers before retiring at the end of the 1988-89 season.
Quote of the Night: “He doesn’t want to play. He wants to retire. He’s always joking about it, saying things like ‘I wish there were somebody to replace me.'” – An unnamed Laker in regards to Abdul-Jabbar following the team’s loss to the Milwaukee Bucks three days earlier. – From the LA Times, Nov. 28, 1980