);
Los Angeles Lakers

Breaking down Magic Johnson's baby sky hook in the 1987 NBA Finals

#MagicMVP

Magic Johnson was a man on a mission in the 1987 season, but his defining moment of that year didn't come until Game 4 of the 1987 NBA Finals.

Already up 2-1 on the Boston Celtics, Magic and his Lakers found themselves down 106-105 with just seven ticks on the clock. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar had a chance to tie the game at the line but bricked his second free throw attempt.

The Celtics, however, couldn't corral the rock as it went screaming off the left hand of Kevin McHale. The Boston Garden crowd and the Celtics themselves argued that it went off Mychal Thompson last. Thompson was in the area but the call stood and, of course, there was no instant replay in those days.

This set the table for the moment of the '87 Finals and one of Magic's most iconic plays. At that point in the game, Johnson had 27 points and was 11-for-19 from the field - he was feeling it. Lakers head coach Pat Riley called his final timeout and drew up a play to try and get the ball inside to Kareem.

As the play develops, Magic catches the ball baseline and the Lakers clear out to allow Kareem to post-up Robert Parish.

With five ticks on the clock, Magic realizes he has McHale on him, who, by the way, wasn't known for his lockdown defence. Magic puts the ball on the deck, freezing McHale with a little hesitation dribble.

Kareem realizes then that he's not getting the rock and instinctively clears the paint and looks for a dump-off pass - this time, however, Magic was taking this shot.

If it weren't for Magic's mishaps in back-to-back games in the '84 Finals, costing the Lakers a chance at another title, he probably drops the ball off to Kareem for an easy dunk.

The play was for Kareem after all, and he was the Captain, but the '87 Finals was Magic's time. As a matter of fact, the entire 86-87 season was Magic's time. He was named the league MVP after averaging a career-high 23.9 points and a league-leading 12.2 assists per game. There was no way he was giving up the pill.

As Magic went into his mini hook shot, three Celtics were surrounding him. It probably wasn't the shot that the Lakers thought they'd be taking coming out of the timeout, but it was the shot they got and made.

Following the Lakers' 107-106 win, Boston's Larry Bird, who never complimented his opponents - especially in a loss - told the world that Magic was the best that he had ever seen.

"Magic's just a great basketball player," Bird told the media. "He's the best I've ever seen, you know - I ... unbelievable. I don't know what to say."

On Magic's 60th birthday, we celebrate his baby hook in '87. Laker fans all around the world can still hear the late great Chick Hearn screaming "Good" as the ball splashed through the hoop.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA or its clubs.

More from NBA.com

De'Aaron Fox
Fast Facts: Kings' guard De'Aaron Fox
Yash Matange
Nav Bhatia
NBA India All-Access: Nav Bhatia
Yash Matange
De'Aaron Fox
Fox withdraws from Team USA
Kyle Irving
#Mitchell
Team USA edge Spain 90-81 in FIBA exhibition game
Benyam Kidane
#Parker
Spurs to retire Tony Parker's no.9 jersey
Benyam Kidane
NBA - Coaches Clipboard-scott kerr.jpg
Can Kerr get the most out of Russell?
Gilbert McGregor
More News