NBA Tuesday has reached the midpoint of the 1980s now on its second miniseries, the one where we check out Finals MVP and DPOY award winners. The championship round this year featured a rematch between East and West Coast powers, while some other seismic shifts started to show themselves in the professional basketball, too … some rookie named Michael Jordan?
Remember also to check out the first miniseries entry on this year for context, because knowledge is power.
1985 NBA FINALS MVP: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, C, Los Angeles (original); Magic Johnson, PG, Los Angeles (revised)
The Boston Celtics were the defending champions, and when they won Game 1 on their home court by 34 points, it looked like nothing could stop them. But the Los Angeles Lakers won 4 of the next 5 games to claim the NBA title in a 6-game classic. Lakers center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar—at age 38, no less—claimed the Finals MVP vote by posting 25.7 ppg, 9.0 rpg, 5.2 apg, 1.5 bpg, and 1.0 spg.
Our only other contender here is L.A. point guard Magic Johnson, who played almost 4 more minutes per game than the Big Fella, putting up his own impressive stat line: 18.3 ppg, 14.0 apg, 6.8 rpg, and 2.2 spg. We generally like Magic’s double-double average more than Kareem’s near double-double output, simply because of the distribution factor. The Lakers had five double-digit scorers here, so …
The guy getting everyone else the ball is the one we gawk at: Kareem was second on the team in dimes for the Finals, and that’s a big gap between the two stars. The time on the court is key, too, as Magic was available to his team more often than not. These two reasons are enough for us to flip the switch on this one and give the MVP nod again to Johnson—his third in our book (1980, 1982).
1985 NBA DPOY: Mark Eaton, C, Utah (original, confirmed)
This award went to one of the original immovable forces in the middle, Utah Jazz C Mark Eaton (6.75 DWS). Other realistic contenders included Boston Celtics small forward Larry Bird (5.22) and Milwaukee Bucks power forward Terry Cummings (5.10). The Celts and the Bucks won their respective divisions, while the Jazz posted just a 41-41 record—making the postseason by just a handful of games.
So, Eaton does wrap this award up in our minds, on both levels: He blocked a league-high 5.6 shots per game, in addition to grabbing 11.3 rebounds each time out—8.8 on the defensive end. Throw in some steals, and Eaton basically ended 14.8 opponent possessions per game. That’s quite intimidating on many levels, and without him, Utah isn’t sniffing .500 on the season, or the postseason, for that matter.