Philadelphia 65-17 still coached by BillyCunningham and Los Angeles 58-24 coached by Pat Riley but Jerry West had replaced Bill Sharman as the general manager. The teams were similar to last years’ squads except for a big addition for Philadelphia as they had traded Caldwell Jones and a draft pick to Houston for Moses Malone the reigning league MVP and one of the league’s most dominantrebounders and scorers.
The addition of Malone counteredKareem Abdul-Jabbar who because of his height was difficult to defend against and gave the Lakers easy baskets.
Besides Malone 24.5 points per game/15.3 rebounds per game, the Sixers returned Julius Erving 21.4 ppg, Maurice Cheeks 12. 5 ppg/6.9 assists per game, and Andrew Toney 19.7 ppg.
LA was led in scoring by Abdul-Jabbar 21.8 ppg/7.5 rpg, Magic Johnson 16.8 ppg/10.5 rpg/10.5apg, Jamaal Wilkes 19.6 ppg, and Norm Nixon 15.1 ppg. They also had a young player, James Worthy 13.4 ppg, who in future years would play a big role on the Laker team.
The 76ers had the best recordso the series opened in the Spectrum in Philadelphia and the fans were hungry for an NBA championship as Philadelphiawas known for its avid basketball fans.
The 76ers got off to a fast start and led 30-20 after the first quarter in game one but LA surged ahead in the second quarter to lead 57-54 at the half. However Philadelphia outscored the Lakers 31-26 and 28-24 in the third and fourth quarters to win 113-107.
Moses led the 76erswith 27 points, 18 rebounds and three blocked shotsand seven of his rebounds were offensive rebounds giving the Sixers extra field goal attempts.
The Lakers were led by Norm Nixon with 26 points, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar with 20 and Magic Johnson with 19 points and 11 rebounds.
The fans were jubilant.
Game two had the Lakers come out strong as they led at the half 55-51 but Philadelphia took over in the secondhalf to win the game 103-93 and go up 2-0 with Moses leading the 76ers with 24 points and 12 rebounds while Andrew Toney and Maurice Cheeks each added 19. Kareemled the Lakers with 23 points as the series shifted to the Forum in LA.
Game three was similar to game two in that the Lakers got out to an early lead and led a the half 52-49 with the Sixers coming on strong in the second half to win 103-93 with Moses Malone again leading with 28 points and 19 rebounds while Julius Irving and Andrew Toney each had 21 points each.
Abdul-Jabbar led LA with 23 points and 15 rebounds and Jamaal Wilkeshad 20 points and Magic Johnson had 13 rebounds.
In game four the Lakers yet again built up a halftime lead this time 65-51 and after a close third quarter, the Sixers outscored LA 33-18 in fourth quarter to win the game and and sweep the series. Moses got series MVP after scoring 24 points and pulling down 23 rebounds in game four. Andrew Toney added 23, Maurice Cheeks 20 and Julius Erving 21 points for the winners.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar led LA with 28 points, Jamaal Wilkes had 21 and Magic Johnson had 27 points and 13 assists.
The 76ers would not return until 2001 while the Lakers were back the next year against the Celtics.
Ron Griffitts a contributing columnist for the Daily Advocate