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“Say a couple of prayers before the game” - James Worthy’s plan on how to guard Alex English in the 1985 Western Conference Finals

"Big Game James" didn't need to guard Alex English in the final game of the series because "The Blade" was out with an injury.
James Worthy and Alex English

James Worthy and Alex English

The 1985 Western Conference Finals matchup between the Los Angeles Lakers and Denver Nuggets ended quickly in favor of the Purple and Gold. Still, L.A. had a tough time containing Alex English during those five games. Apparently, the team needed divine intervention to limit the Nuggets legend because former Lakers forward James Worthy said his plans to defend English then involved calling on a higher being.

Cutting up the opponents

Some people around the league called English "The Blade" because of his penchant for cutting opponents up or slicing past defenders with ease. He was one of the most prolific scorers of the 1980s and a matchup nightmare for opponents.

Against Los Angeles in the 1985 WCF, the explosive small forward had been producing his usual stellar numbers in the first four games. During that stretch, he pushed the Lakers around to the tune of 30.3 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 4.3 assists per contest on a 51.1% shooting clip.

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However, Worthy and co. had too much offensive firepower and went up 3-1 versus Denver. It also didn't help that several Nuggets players nursed injuries in Game 4 and that they couldn't snag a defensive rebound in one of the last possessions of the contest.

Before the fateful fourth match, Worthy revealed his plan to guard English. The answers to his prayers came in an ill-fated manner, as the Nuggets star joined the injury list after battling Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for a rebound. English underwent surgery that same evening and had to sit out the remainder of the playoffs.

L.A. took care of business in Game 5, eliminating Denver with a 153-109 victory.

His best chance of cracking the Finals

Unfortunately for English, that campaign gave him the best opportunity to make an elusive NBA Finals appearance together with co-stars Dan Issel and Fat Lever. That was the first and last time the high-scoring forward reached a conference finals.

But although his lengthy NBA career ended with little playoff success, there isn't any doubt about the mark he made in the Association. No other NBA player scored more in the 1980s, and he ended up with 25,613 points after 15 seasons in the league.

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