After game 2 of the NBA Finals Klay Thompson took a jab at his father’s “alma mater”, the ‘Showtime’ Lakers.
It all started when Draymond Green was asked if the Warriors defense in the Finals put them among the best teams of all-time (I believe it does). Draymond responsed, stating that they could never play the Showtime Lakers so they could never really know the outcome. Klay then jumped in and said, “we were better than the Showtime Lakers”. He made the statement, jokingly, but of course it started a debate. Not too long after, Magic Johnson came out saying that his Showtime Lakers would definitely beat the Warriors. Like Draymond said, we will never be able to truly know, but just for the sake of comparison, who would have the higher odds of winning?
The ‘Showtime’ era was sparked by the drafting of Magic Johnson in 1979. He was the prized possession of the draft class, fresh off of an NCAA championship, and being named the “NCAA Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player”. It wasn’t just what he had accomplished in his short NCAA career however, it was what he had to offer. He was a rarity in the game of basketball, and still something that we haven’t seen since: a 6 foot 9 inch, true, point guard. His speed and athleticism, combined with his size, were something unseen before.
The Laker’s ran a fast break type offense, and you knew once that ball was outletted to Magic, it was showtime. You were guaranteed to see some ball handling wizardry, one of his patented no-look passes, or a fancy lay-up.
Fast forward 30 years later, and we are seeing a new show: The Golden State Warriors. Who continue to “Wow” audiences with their circus shots, and deep range bombs. The ‘Showtime’ Lakers were truly a one of a kind team, but so are the Warriors. So let’s compare: Starting with the team statistics:
1985 Lakers: 62-20; FG: .545%, 3Pt: .305%, FT: 763%, RPG: 44.1, APG: 31.4 (The highest ever), PPG: 118.2, OPP: 110.9.
Won NBA Championship
2016 Warriors: 73-9; FG: .487%, 3Pt: .416%, FT: .763%, RPG: 46.2, APG: 28.9, PPG: 114.9, OPP: 104.1, made 1077 3Pt field goals, crushing the previous record of 933 held by the 2014-15 Rockets.
Now let’s take a look at the two top performers from each team:
Lakers Top Two:
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: 22 PPG, FG: .599%, 7.9 RPG, 3.2 APG, 2.1 BPG, 0.8 SPG.
Fun fact: he did all of this at the age of 37.
Magic Johnson: 18.3 PPG, FG: .561%, 6.2 RPG, 12.6 APG, 0.3 BPG, 1.5 SPG.
Warriors Top Two:
Stephen Curry: 30.1 PPG, FG: .504%, 5.4 RPG, 6.7 APG, 0.2 BPG, 2.1 SPG. Absolutely crushed his own 3pt. record making 402 on the season. Also became the 7th player to join the 50-40-90 club.
Klay Thompson: 22.1 PPG, FG: .470% 3.8 RPG, 2.1 APG, 0.6 BPG, 0.8 SPG.
Both of these teams are a part of the best the NBA has ever seen. I don’t know if the Warriors would have an answer for Kareem, who was literally unstoppable his whole career. Their small ball tactics wouldn’t work against the 7’2 Center, who is the NBA’s all-time leading scorer. The Warriors would also struggle to contain Magic, who has the highest average for career APG of all time. At 6’9 Curry would struggle to deal with his size and strength.
However, the Lakers would struggle to contain arguably, the two greatest three point shooters of all-time: Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, as well as their strong bench. Both of these teams can fill up the basket: The Lakers doing so by running your team into the ground on the fast break, and the Warriors by shooting you down. I think it would be a very evenly matched series that would probably go to 7 games.
I’ve given you all the numbers, and analysis. Who do you think would win?