James Worthy: A Look Back

Kurt —  December 4, 2009

29 responses to James Worthy: A Look Back

  1. I’m not realy a fan of his, but I thought this was a pretty good one from Adande.


  2. Thanks for the video link, Kurt.
    Big Game James has always been my favorite Showtime Laker next to Magic.
    My friends and I used to pretend we were him when dunking on our 7 ft elementary school rims.

  3. I loved those Showtime teams. They were so deep and enjoyed the game so much.

    I think this team has the potential to come close to those teams. We are now so deep – and we got deeper with RonRon. We may lack the depth of the 10th man on those teams, but we are pretty good.

    Nice to reminisce, nice to be riding this train today.

  4. Triple double in game 7 of the 1988 Finals, enough said.

    • By the way, that 81-82 North Carolina team of Worthy’s would have made a pretty good NBA team. The roster had Jordan at guard, Worthy as the SF, Sam Perkins as the four (he had a very nice NBA career, a sweet outside stroke and played a couple seasons with the Lakers), and five-time All Star Brad Daugherty at center. I’m not sure there has been a more talented college team ever.

  5. Yeah, Big Game James Worthy was a sight to see for sure with Magic feeding him the ball. Does anybody know the story behind the goggles he would always wear. The High School clip showed that he did not wear them then, but in the NBA he did, just always wondered about that.

  6. Worthy was just awesome. What an incredible player, I felt blessed to watch his whole career.

    I’ve always said, you don’t get nicknames by accident. “Mr. Clutch”, “Magic”, “Big Game James”…you’ve got to earn nicknames like that.

    Well, except for maybe “The Machine”…

  7. 6- I guess when you already start the GOAT and another hall of famer, it becomes tough to find any other team to compare against them, other than maybe one of Kareem or Walton’s, but do you really think that team could compete in the Ammo/ JJ Redick era of powerhouse college hoops?

    I love Big Game James. Worthy video for a worthy man!

  8. Kurt,
    I have had that same thought about that NC team, although the Walton/WIlkes/Bibby/Nater UCLA team might have given them a run for their money.

  9. are you sure brad daugherty was on that squad? i think matt doherty was on the team but i didn’t think brad daugherty came until later.

    • Rahul, I just looked it up and you are right, it is Matt not Brad, which makes that team less scary (but still good). This is why one should do research before posting. Someday I’ll learn that lesson.

  10. Dude could finish with the best of them.

  11. The 1984 North Carolina team that lost in the first or second round of the tournament as the #1 seed was quite the team as well.

    Kenny Smith PG, Fr
    Michael Jordan SG, Jr
    Matt Doherty SF, Sr
    Sam Perkins PF, Sr
    Brad Daugherty C, So

    To me, their loss to Indiana in the Sweet 16 was one of the greatest upsets in NCAA history. I think Indiana had a freshman Steve Alford and nobody else, except for Bobby Knight coaching rings around Dean Smith.

  12. One story I remember about him is when he first picked up a basketball, there wasn’t a hoop available. So, for months, IIRC, he developed his handle, footwork, and passing.

    Anyway, he was tremendously skilled in addition to being physically gifted. Filling the lane, finishing in traffic, hitting from mid-range, taking his man off the dribble, posting his man up, he could put up a dozen baskets without using the same move twice.

    My favorite Showtime Laker next to Magic.

  13. on nba.com all decade they have the best playoff dunk of the decade on their, it has kobe’s reverse windmill against minesota in 2003, probably my favourite dunk ever

  14. 14- that is a sick dunk, but I kind of expected them to have Kobe’s dunk on Nash from 2006. Lebron got 2 dunks, why not?

  15. The reverse windmill is leading the voting so far…

  16. #13, Dude. I use that team as exhibit A in my ongoing argument with my friends as to why I thought Dean Smith was overrated. I think Dean is a great coach but certainly not the level where he is placed.

    I thought he could and should have won at least a couple more championships given the talent and tourney path he had in quite a few years.

    Furthermore if you look at his championships, it never felt like it was a product of his coaching. More like extraordinary circumstances of someone on the other team blowing it or Jordan coming up with a clutch jumper.

    But that could be also my bias speaking because it goes to my personal philosophy of disliking his method of playing not to lose as opposed to going out there to win it. I never felt that he taught his teams to go and seize the moment and be excellent. Instead it was about being a cog and making sure they didn’t screw up. He didn’t want them thinking, just following him. The complete antithesis of Phil Jackson. Granted college vs pros but I think you see where I’m coming from.

  17. What a difference 2 years makes. From Espn’s daily dime interviews with scouts:

    Western Conference scout on the best team he’s seen:

    “It’s the Lakers, hands down. They’re so physical across the board, all the way down to Derek Fisher and Shannon Brown. They’re enormous. They’re just big, strong, physical guys that can really get up into you and defend you. They’re just big and strong and versatile and they can really do damage with their defense. The days of questioning [L.A.’s] toughness are over.”

    Also, I think we should create the term “to Ding” to describe when a columnist absolutely nails something on the head, as Kevin Ding has done once again:

  18. 6.

    Actually Daugherty was still in high school in ’81-82. Perkins played the 5 and Worthy the 4 on that team (Matt Doherty was the 3 and Jimmy Black the 1). And despite making that memorable shot against G-town, ‘Mike’ Jordan (as he was known at that time) was really more of a role player for that team (13.4 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 1.8 apg).

    Still one of the great teams of all time from one of the most loaded Final Fours of all time: UNC, Ewing’s Georgetown, Olajuwon’s Houston, & the ‘Doctors of Dunk’ at Louisville.

  19. 13.

    UNC made the Sweet 16 that year; in fact, they made it to the Sweet 16 or further 13 straight years from 1980-81 through 1993-94.


    Dean Smith was no Wooden, sure, but nobody argues that he was. People just argue that he was one of the greats, which he indisputably was.

    From his wiki:

    879 wins (2nd all-time)
    77.6 win % (9th all-time)
    27 consecutive 20-win seasons
    30 total 20-win seasons (1st all-time for DI)
    2 national championships
    11 final fours
    17 ACC championships
    Developed 26 all-americans

    Not to mention that he left a huge influence on coaching, with mentees including Roy Williams, Doug Moe, George Karl, Larry Brown, Eddie Fogler, & Billy Cunningham (among others).

    • About Dean Smith not getting the most out of his talented players, maybe that’s true. But he got the players, and that’s the key. At the college level, it is all about recruiting. The coaching cliche is “it’s not about the Xs and Os, it’s about the Jimmys and Joes.” I think at the NBA level coaching matters a little more, because there is some talent everywhere, but it goes without saying that if Phil Jackson was coaching the Nets they would still suck. Or, look at Doc Rivers, who went from horrible coach to winning a title once KG and Ray Allen came on board.

  20. Loved watching Worthy take the Celtics apart in the championship elimination game, ’87 I think it was.

    Late in the game (game decided) he fouled out to a huge ovation!

  21. Yea, Worthy was pretty much my favorite Laker growing up. It’s almost paradoxical that you can be a top 50 NBA player but still be underrecognized.

    Here’s an interesting Dennis Rodman quote on James Worthy:

    “Why James Worthy? I’m one of the best defensive players of all time, and I couldn’t guard his ass.

    “If you defended me three or four different ways,” said Worthy in the NBA at 50, “ … then I had three or four different moves.”

    No shit. He would be coming off a screen, and I’d be trying to figure out whether he was going over the top or underneath. Next thing I knew, he was at the rim. Now if we’d played those guys more, I might have figured out how to guard his ass. But there was nothing but frustration with James Worthy. Clever, quick, a great player – he’s one of the few guys who flat pissed me off. I want him on my team just so I don’t have to guard him.”


  22. It’s great to see that scouting report citing the overwhelming size of the Lakers. To me, that’s a real link to the Showtime era. Everyone remembers the fast breaking, but people often forget the size. The ’87-’88 team’s crunch time lineup looked like this:

    Kareem, 7’2″
    Mychal Thompson, 6’11”
    Worthy, 6’9″
    Magic, 6’9″
    Coop, 6’7″

    What a matchup nightmare for opponents.

  23. That just makes me feel bad for the opponents. The short guy in the line up is 6’7″!

  24. I loved the way Worthy dunked. no hotdogging, no showboating, no wasted energy. he jumped just high enough and glided toward the basketball. only Clyde the Glide had a prettier dunk, I thought.

    what an embarrassment of riches the showtime Lakers had. I think even then, Kareem was already past his prime. Imagine a younger Kareem with Magic and Worthy? Yikes!

  25. that’s so wrong!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    kobe time!