The Truth about Magic Johnson’s Clutch Baby Hook

In our recent podcast starring Chris Yeh, we brought up the 1980s Lakers. And one of the biggest moments in Magic’s career was when he took down the Celtics, on their home turf, with a shot.

And it turns out Arturo and myself actually view this as a bad play. First, it turns out this was a play designed to get Kareem the ball close to the hoop. So let’s examine the play full out to show why a play designed to get Kareem an easy shot went so wrong.


It starts out fairly calmly, McHale on Magic. And doing decent D, he pushes Magic away from the hoop.

Magic_Baby_Hook_2We see Kareem is posting up. He’s guarded by Parish but Parish is clearly eyeing Magic.

Magic_Baby_Hook_3Parish takes the bait. Now McHale and Parish are on Magic and Larry’s standing by.

Magic_ Baby_Hook_4Infected by what future doctors will call “Kobe Syndrome” Magic takes the shot!

Magic_Baby_Hook_5Kareem rushes into the fray. The Celtics have Dennis Johnson and Parish ready for the board. If it bounces left, the Lakers have a chance for a quick put back if Kareem can grab it (the game clock is at 2 seconds). If it bounces right, the Celtics probably grab the board and it’s all over.  

Magic_Baby_Hook_6The ball goes in! Kareem jumps for joy. This is hard to capture in a still frame, but it looks like Dennis Johnson shakes his fists in anger at either the ball or the net.

As a final note, some may want to say Magic may not have been able to make that pass. Sure, keep telling yourself that. Magic could make a great pass falling down and covered!

No seriously, it’s #1 on that list.


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