As the start of the 2015-16 NBA season approaches, it will be tough for any of the league’s opening-night games on Oct. 27 to beat the drama and historical significance of Oct. 12, 1979, when Magic Johnson made his pro debut for the Los Angeles Lakers against the San Diego Clippers in a game that was ultimately won by a buzzer-beater from legendary Muslim ballplayer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar:
Abdul-Jabbar’s sky hook gave him 29 points on the night, while Magic finished with 26. The Lakers opened the ’79-80 season with a victory, and ended it with a victory seven months later, capturing the 1980 NBA championship by beating the Philadelphia 76ers. Game Six of that series is of course known as the game when the rookie Magic filled in for an injured Abdul-Jabbar at center and put up 42 points and 15 rebounds to claim Finals MVP.
Abdul-Jabbar averaged 33.4 points, 13.6 rebounds and 4.6 blocks per game in that series, a performance that has been historically overshadowed by Magic’s brilliant Game Six.