1983 NBA Finals

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1983 NBA Finals
Team Coach Wins
Philadelphia 76ers Billy Cunningham 4
Los Angeles Lakers Pat Riley 0
Dates May 22–31
MVP Moses Malone
(Philadelphia 76ers)
Television CBS (U.S.)
Announcers Dick Stockton and Bill Russell
Radio network Mutual (U.S.)
Announcers Tony Roberts and Tom Heinsohn (Mutual)
Neil Funk (76ers)
Chick Hearn and Keith Erickson (Lakers)
Game 1: Jack Madden and Ed T. Rush
Game 2: Darell Garretson and John Vanak
Game 3: Jess Kersey and Jake O'Donnell
Game 4: Hugh Evans and Earl Strom
Hall of Famers 76ers:
Julius Erving (1993)
Moses Malone (2001)
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (1995)
Magic Johnson (2002)
Bob McAdoo (2000)
Jamaal Wilkes (2012)
James Worthy (2003; did not play)
Billy Cunningham (1986, player)
Pat Riley (2008)
Chick Hearn (2003, contributor)
Earl Strom (1995)
Eastern Finals 76ers defeat Bucks, 4-1
Western Finals Lakers defeat Spurs, 4-2
NBA Finals

The 1983 NBA Finals, also known as Showdown '83, was the championship round of the 1982–83 NBA season. It was the last NBA Championship Series completed before June 1.


This was the third Finals meeting in four years between the Philadelphia 76ers and the Los Angeles Lakers. The Lakers won the first two meetings in 1980 and 1982 with Magic Johnson earning Finals MVP awards each time. But Johnson wasn't the only problem the 76ers faced. While Julius Erving played superbly in both series, their frontcourt of Darryl Dawkins, Caldwell Jones and Bobby Jones couldn't neutralize Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. So in the off-season, the 76ers acquired Moses Malone from the Houston Rockets in an effort to solve Kareem, in addition to providing some offense and rebounding to the team. They parted ways with Caldwell Jones, Dawkins, and Lionel Hollins before the season, while giving greater responsibility to high-scoring guard Andrew Toney and backup playmaker Clint Richardson, and adding forwards Clemon Johnson and rookie Marc Iavaroni.

Malone's acquisition paid dividends, as the 76ers won 65 games in the 1982–83 NBA season. Prior to the playoffs, Malone predicted a clean playoff sweep for the 76ers, ending it with the statement Fo, Fo, Fo. The 76ers would steamroll through the playoffs, sweeping the New York Knicks 4–0 in the conference semifinals, before overcoming the Milwaukee Bucks in five games of the conference finals, thereby denying Malone's infamous prediction. Nevertheless, the 76ers were heading into the Finals as confident as ever.

The Lakers earned the top pick of the 1982 NBA Draft, becoming the only defending champion to earn the top overall pick in the same season. This was the result of the Ted Stepien-owned Cleveland Cavaliers trading their first round pick and Butch Lee to the Lakers for Don Ford and draft pick Chad Kinch three years earlier. Because the Cavaliers earned the worst record at 15–67, they would have earned the top overall pick via a coin toss with the 17–65 San Diego Clippers. Instead, the Lakers would earn the top pick and ultimately selected future Hall of Famer James Worthy first overall.

The Lakers won 58 games the next season. Worthy was on his way to contention for Rookie of the Year when he broke his leg late in the season, therefore missing the rest of the season and the playoffs. Despite Worthy's absence, Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar were still in their prime, and led the Lakers back to the Finals by beating the Portland Trail Blazers 4–1 and the San Antonio Spurs 4–2 in the second and third playoff rounds, respectively.

Road to the Finals

Los Angeles Lakers (Western Conference Champion) Philadelphia 76ers (Eastern Conference Champion)
# Western Conference
1 c-Los Angeles Lakers 58 24 .707
2 y-San Antonio Spurs 53 29 .646 5
3 x-Phoenix Suns 53 29 .646 5
4 x-Seattle SuperSonics 48 34 .585 10
5 x-Portland Trail Blazers 46 36 .561 12
6 x-Denver Nuggets 45 37 .549 13
7 Kansas City Kings 45 37 .549 13
8 Dallas Mavericks 38 44 .463 20
9 Utah Jazz 30 52 .366 28
9 Golden State Warriors 30 52 .366 28
11 San Diego Clippers 25 57 .305 33
12 Houston Rockets 14 68 .171 44

1st seed in the West, 2nd best league record

Regular season
# Eastern Conference
1 z-Philadelphia 76ers 65 17 .793
2 y-Milwaukee Bucks 51 31 .622 14
3 x-Boston Celtics 56 26 .683 9
4 x-New Jersey Nets 49 33 .598 16
5 x-New York Knicks 44 38 .537 21
6 x-Atlanta Hawks 43 39 .524 22
7 Washington Bullets 42 40 .512 23
8 Detroit Pistons 37 45 .451 28
9 Chicago Bulls 28 54 .341 37
10 Cleveland Cavaliers 23 59 .280 42
11 Indiana Pacers 20 62 .244 45
1st seed in the East, best league record
Earned first-round bye First Round Earned first-round bye
Defeated the (5) Portland Trail Blazers, 4–1 Conference Semifinals Defeated the (5) New York Knicks, 4–0
Defeated the (2) San Antonio Spurs, 4–2 Conference Finals Defeated the (2) Milwaukee Bucks, 4–1

Regular season series

The Philadelphia 76ers won both games in the regular season series:

December 5, 1982
Philadelphia 76ers 114, Los Angeles Lakers 104
January 5, 1983
Los Angeles Lakers 120, Philadelphia 76ers 122 (OT)

Series summary

Game Date Home Team Result Road Team
Game 1 Sunday, May 22 Philadelphia 76ers 113–107 (1–0) Los Angeles Lakers
Game 2 Thursday, May 26 Philadelphia 76ers 103–93 (2–0) Los Angeles Lakers
Game 3 Sunday, May 29 Los Angeles Lakers 94–111 (0–3) Philadelphia 76ers
Game 4 Tuesday, May 31 Los Angeles Lakers 108–115 (0–4) Philadelphia 76ers

The final piece of the Philadelphia 76ers' championship puzzle was completed before the 1982–83 season when they acquired center Moses Malone from the Houston Rockets. They went on to capture their historic second NBA championship as they won 65 games, and stormed through the playoffs, first sweeping the New York Knicks, and then beating the Milwaukee Bucks in five games. They finally finished it off with a four-game sweep of the Los Angeles Lakers, who had defeated them the season before.

Said head coach Billy Cunningham, "The difference from last year was Moses." Malone was named MVP of the 1983 Finals, as well as league MVP for the third time in his career. The 76ers completed one of the most dominating playoff runs in league history with a 12–1 mark after league and NBA Finals MVP Moses promised "Fo', fo', fo" (as in "four, four, four"—four wins to sweep round 1, four wins to sweep round 2, etc.), but it actually wound up as "Fo', fi', fo." (four, five, four). The 76ers were also led by Julius Erving, Maurice Cheeks, Andrew Toney, and Bobby Jones.

With 59 seconds to go in Game 4, it was Erving who made a three-point play to hold the lead for good, crushing the Lakers in a four-game sweep and ending the last NBA Finals to end before June.

Game 1

May 22
Los Angeles Lakers 107, Philadelphia 76ers 113
Scoring by quarter: 20–30, 37–24, 26–31, 24–28
Pts: Norm Nixon 26
Rebs: Mark Landsberger 10
Asts: Magic Johnson 11
Pts: Moses Malone 27
Rebs: Moses Malone 18
Asts: Julius Erving 9
Philadelphia leads the series, 1–0
The Spectrum, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Attendance: 18,482
  • No. 14 Jack Madden
  • No. 4 Ed T. Rush

Game 2

May 26
Los Angeles Lakers 93, Philadelphia 76ers 103
Scoring by quarter: 29–26, 26–25, 20–28, 18–24
Pts: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar 23
Rebs: Magic Johnson 8
Asts: Magic Johnson 13
Pts: Moses Malone 24
Rebs: Moses Malone 12
Asts: Maurice Cheeks 8
Philadelphia leads the series, 2–0
The Spectrum, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Attendance: 18,482
  • No. 10 Darell Garretson
  • No. 9 John Vanak

Game 3

May 29
Philadelphia 76ers 111, Los Angeles Lakers 94
Scoring by quarter: 21–32, 28–20, 23–20, 39–22
Pts: Moses Malone 28
Rebs: Moses Malone 19
Asts: Moses Malone 6
Pts: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar 23
Rebs: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar 15
Asts: Magic Johnson 13
Philadelphia leads the series, 3–0
The Forum, Inglewood, California
Attendance: 17,505
  • No. 20 Jess Kersey
  • No. 11 Jake O'Donnell

Game 4

May 31
Philadelphia 76ers 115, Los Angeles Lakers 108
Scoring by quarter: 24–26, 27–39, 31–28, 33–15
Pts: Moses Malone 24
Rebs: Moses Malone 23
Asts: Andrew Toney 9
Pts: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar 28
Rebs: Abdul-Jabbar, Johnson, Landsberger, McGee 7 each
Asts: Magic Johnson 15
Philadelphia wins the series, 4–0
The Forum, Inglewood, California
Attendance: 17,505
  • No. 25 Hugh Evans
  • No. 12 Earl Strom

Television coverage

The 1983 NBA Finals was being broadcast by CBS. Dick Stockton and Bill Russell were the commentators and Brent Musburger was the host. It also introduced a new theme music for the CBS Sports coverage of the NBA, used an introduction of the NBA arenas (similar to the Boston Garden) until the 1989 Playoffs and later revived the second theme beginning in the 1989 Finals.[1]

"That Championship Feeling"

Following the 1983 NBA Finals, a video documentary called "That Championship Feeling" recaps the NBA Playoff action that year. Dick Stockton, who called the Finals for CBS with Bill Russell, narrated the video, and Irene Cara's 1983 hit single "Flashdance... What a Feeling" is the official theme song for the video documentary. For the first time, NBA Entertainment used videotape instead of film for all the on-court and off-court footage. "I'm So Excited" by The Pointer Sisters was also used as the opening music for the documentary, while Grover Washington, Jr.'s "Let It Flow" was used during the Julius Erving segment and as the closing music.


The Sixers would finish the 1983–84 season with 52 wins; however, they fell to the young New Jersey Nets in five games of the first round, in which the road team won every game. The Sixers would not make it back to the finals again until 2001, also against the Lakers, but this time they lost in five games to the then-defending NBA champions.

The Lakers would return to the Finals again in 1984, but were defeated for the second straight year, this time by their arch-rivals, the Boston Celtics in seven games. They would, however, defeat the Celtics in 1985 in six games, and win two more titles in 1987 and 1988.

The 1983 Finals was the last to end within the month of May. All Finals series thereafter would end within the month of June.

This was the only championship not to be won by either the Celtics or Lakers between 1980 and 1988.

Like the 1966–67 team, the 1982–83 76ers were named as one of the top 10 teams in NBA history during the league's 50th anniversary season of 1996–97. Billy Cunningham played on the former and coached on the latter.

The 76ers championship was the last for the city of Philadelphia until the Phillies won the 2008 World Series.[2] At the time, no other city with all four professional sports teams had a championship drought last as long as that from 1983 to 2008 (25 Years).[3] Some suggested that this was the Curse of Billy Penn. When the Flyers played for the 2010 Stanley Cup, The Ottawa Citizen reported that the main reason for that lengthy championship drought was because the only years the city's teams played for championships during that time were years presidents were inaugurated.[4] The city's teams had lost championships during such years, beginning with the 76ers themselves in 1977.[4] The exceptions were the Phillies in 1983 and the Flyers in 1987.[4]

Team rosters

See also


  1. NBA on CBS
  2. Sheridan, Phil (October 30, 2008). "WORLD CHAMPS!; 28 years later, Phillies again are baseball's best". Philadeplhia Inquirer. p. A1. After 25 years of drought...Philadelphia has its championship...the Phillies really are World Series champions.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Levin, Bob (October 21, 2008). "Phillified". The Globe and Mail. p. S1.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Warren, Ken (June 2, 2010). "Two cities that could use a CUP". Ottawa Citizen. p. B3.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links