Lakers legend Magic Johnson had a series of choke moments during the 1984 NBA Finals, costing the Lakers a shot at the NBA title. The series earned him a new nickname known as Tragic Johnson.
Magic Johnson is arguably the best point guard to grace the NBA hardwood. The superstar was one of the greatest playmakers the league had ever seen. A 5x NBA champion and a 3x Finals MVP, Johnson is an all-time great.
However, the Lakers stalwart did have his ups and downs like every other player. One such moment was the 1984 NBA Finals against the Boston Celtics. The Celtics-Lakers rivalry is probably the biggest NBA rivalry of all time.
Representing the Lakers were multiple-time champion and MVPs Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul Jabbar. On the opposite side were Hall of Famers Larry Bird and Kevin McHale.
Termed as the 1984 showdown series had the rivalry between Magic Johnson and Larry Bird as one of the biggest hype entering the series. However, Bird clearly outperformed Johnson, who seemed lost in the series.
When the term Tragic Johnson came into being
The Lakers had a comfortable win in Game 1 115-109, with Kareem Abdul Jabbar being the leading scorer on the team with 32-points. However, the tide turned in favor of the Celtics, winning Game 2 in overtime.
The Lakers gave away Game 2 due to a serious collapse by Magic Johnson on the offensive end. With Game 2 tied at 113-113, the Lakers had possession for an inbound pass.
Magic would have the ball for the last 11 seconds in regulation and would dribble the ball in a baffling manner, resulting in the clock running out.
Johnson would have another embarrassing moment during Game 4. A similar tie situation from Game 2 would repeat itself in this case as well the Lakers had possession during the finals seconds of the match with the ball in Johnson’s hands.
The Lakers point guard botched the final play causing a turnover with Robert Parish stealing the ball. That would result in overtime. Johnson’s struggles continued as the normally excellent free throw shooter missed two clutch freebies.
The Celtics would eventually win the game in overtime with the crowds chanting Tragic Johnson, owing to the Lakers point guard’s series of collapses during the game.
The stars were clearly not in favor of Johnson, who committed a series of turnovers in Game Seven of the 84 showdown that would not allow the Lakers to 3-peat.
— 30 for 30 (@30for30) June 15, 2017
Despite these collapses, Johnson averaged 18.0 PPG, 13.6 APG, and 7.7 RPG shooting 56.0% from the field during the Finals. Nonetheless, his series of errors during the Finals cost the Lakers a chance to 3-peat.