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Magic Johnson's junior Sky-Hook beats Boston

Magic Johnson & Larry Bird

It was the end of a period in the 1980s in which it seemed like every NBA Finals matchup featured the Celtics and the Lakers, although, in reality, the two teams met only three times in the decade. The 1987 NBA Finals in a way marked the end of an era.

With the Los Angeles Lakers trailing the Boston Celtics 106-105 with seven seconds left, Magic Johnson takes an inbound pass from Michael Cooper and dropped a "junior, junior" skyhook that put the Lakers ahead for good

Going into Game 4 of the series, the Lakers had won the opening two games in Los Angeles, before the Celtics pulled one back in Boston. Game 4 was to be Boston’s chance to tie the series at 2 – 2, and with Game 5 due to be played in Boston following the introduction of a new Finals format, the 2-3-2 system, Larry Bird’s men were in a good position to get control of the series.

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The Lakers and Celtics could sew a gorgeous quilt of memories from their epic meetings in the 1980s. But one of the biggest plays was made possible by a shot famously labeled as small. Or: "Junior, junior," to quote the creator. Magic Johnson's running floater/skyhook that decided the outcome of a thrilling Game 4 of the 1987 series was pure poetry, both in execution and finish.

The Celtics led the Lakers by 16 at halftime. After a furious rally, Boston still led 106-105 with seven seconds left in the steamy, loud Boston Garden. Magic took an inbounds pass from Michael Cooper, used a hesitation dribble to freeze Kevin McHale, then dribbled inside the lane, where McHale was joined by Robert Parish. Magic's junior hook floated just beyond their fingertips and was all net.

Larry Bird squirmed away from James Worthy and launched a 3-pointer deep in the corner, in front of the Lakers bench on the final play, but the ball rimmed out. The Lakers finished off the Celtics in six and it was the end of a great rivalry; the 10th meeting between these teams in the NBA Finals was also the last between Bird and Magic.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, one of the best players of all time, was renowned for his immaculate and now infamous ‘sky-hook’ shot. When he executed it, he was unstoppable. Magic, playing his entire NBA career with Jabbar to this point, must have learned a thing or two from the veteran.

Afterward, Johnson labeled the shot "my junior, junior sky-hook," after Abdul-Jabbar's favorite weapon."You expect to lose to the Lakers on a sky-hook," noted Bird. "You don't expect it to be from Magic."

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