On a sunny parade day through Los Angeles celebrating the Laker’s 1987 championship head coach Pat Riley famously proclaimed that his squad would repeat as champs. Boooooold move for most, but Pat is a man who’s never been scared to speak his mind publicly – his words would later be challenged by the young Detroit Pistons in the 1988 NBA Finals. Thirty years ago today the two teams clashed; the up-and-commers and the veteran champions, lets take a look back in sneaker history.
Both teams were lead by generational talents at point guard with Magic Johnson and Isiah Thomas respectively captaining their troops on the hardwood; point god battles don’t get much better than. The series was stereotypically a duel of Detroit’s defense and Los Angeles’s offense (both teams are famously known for the potency of their strengths).
Detroit had LA on the ropes by the time Game 5 ended with a 3-2 series lead. Game 6… oooh Game 6 was so good you could probably turn on ESPN Classic right now and watch it! Isiah twisted his ankle and still set the Finals record for points scored in the 3rd quarter at 25. When was the last time you saw Steph Curry play through an ankle injury (nothing personal, Steph, all NBA players sit out injuries now)? Unfortunately Isiah’s resilience was in vein because Los Angeles showed their championship pedigree and sneaked out a win. The deciding game that followed would get away from Detroit late, ending in the Lakers fulfilling their coach’s proclamation of repeating. Worthy earned his ‘Big Game’ James nickname with his play. In Game 7 he posted a beast stat line with 36 points, 16 rebounds and 10 assists- it would end up being his only career Finals triple-double. Don’t think Worthy only showed up in the last game, for the series he averaged 22 points, 7 boards and 4 assists like a G.
Detroit wouldn’t wait long to win a championship of their own – they’d end up repeating in ’89 & ’90. Lets take a look back at some of the kicks worn by Los Angeles during the ’88 Finals! It’s basically ‘Finals season’ so tune into Sneaker History to see what team we cover next!
The amazing collection pictured above was on eBay a few years ago and gives us a great look at the Laker’s starting 5’s footwear.