Magic Johnson Reveals He Cried For Three Months After Terrible Showing In The 1984 NBA Finals

Mary Raleigh
24/09/2023
Magic Johnson was devastated.
  • Magic Johnson had one of the more infamous superstar meltdowns in the NBA Finals in 1984
  • Johnson revealed that he cried for months after costing the Lakers the title
  • Johnson realized that he had to work on his game to ensure it never happened againAfter Losing to the Boston Celtics in the 1984 NBA Finals, Magic Johnson  Was Referred to as the 'Tarnished Superstar'

The 1984 NBA Finals were the nadir of Magic Johnson’s storied career, as he cost the Los Angeles Lakers a championship with a string of mistakes in the clutch. The Lakers narrowly lost to the Boston Celtics in seven games, and Johnson revealed on the Jalen Rose: Renaissance Man podcast that he cried for three months after that.

“This was the first time I made critical mistakes for us to lose that championship,” Johnson said. “So I cried, Jalen, for three months, all summer, I cried because I let my teammates down. I was the reason why we lost the championship. But the first thing I had to do, Jalen, was identify and say to myself, ‘I’m not as good as I thought I was.'”The Boston Celtics Had No Business Winning the 1984 Finals Against the  Lakers, and Magic Johnson Revealed the 'Most Crushing Part' of the Loss

Isiah Thomas had stated previously that Magic kept crying after losing the 1984 Finals. He had never seen Johnson fail, and that was indeed really the first time that he had come up short in that fashion in a big moment.

Johnson realized he had to get in the gym and start working on his game. He revealed he did a SWOT analysis and figured out what he needed to work on.

“I said, ‘Uh-oh, I got to go to work. I got to get my jump shot better. I had to work on that. I got to make sure that I don’t make critical mistakes ever again.’ And so I improved over that summer,” Johnson continued. “I started shooting a little sky hook. I worked on it every single day.” Winning Time' Is Basically 'The Crown' Dressed in Lakers Jerseys - The  Ringer

Johnson stated he worked out three times a day, with him and Thomas even working out at midnight. Fortunately for Magic, a chance at redemption came the following year, and he did not fail in 1985.

“And so God would have it that I would turn around in 1985, play the Celtics again, and we end up beating them because I got better and I didn’t make critical mistakes,” Johnson added.

What made this choke really so stunning, was that the basketball world had seen Johnson shine on the big stage time and time again. Magic had won the NCAA championship in 1979 with Michigan State and had immediate success with the Lakers as well. Johnson won Finals MVP in 1980 as a rookie and then again in 1982.

The moment had never been too big for him prior to this. The sign of a great player, though, is how you bounce back from adversity and Johnson did that in some style, as he went on to become the greatest point guard in NBA history.


Magic Johnson’s Blunders In The 1984 NBA FinalsWinning Time' Shocks Fans With Surprise Series Finale – Rolling Stone

If social media existed back in 1984, Johnson would have gotten hammered from all corners, because it was just one mistake after another. The Lakers had actually won Game 1 of the series and seemed to be in a great position to win Game 2, but Magic blew it.

With 13 seconds left, the Lakers had the ball with the scores tied at 113 but failed to even get a shot off on time, as Johnson nearly dribbled the clock out. The Celtics then won 124-121 in overtime.

In Game 4, the scores were tied at 113 again with 16 seconds remaining and Johnson’s pass was stolen by Robert Parish. The contest went to overtime, where Magic missed two critical free throws and the Celtics went on to win 129-125.

Lastly, in Game 7, Johnson twice turned the ball over in the final two minutes of the contest. The Lakers were mounting a furious comeback but would end up losing 111-102.

Magic had solid averages in the series, putting up 18.0 points, 7.7 rebounds, 13.6 assists, 2.0 steals, and 0.9 blocks per game, but there was no denying he had cost the Lakers the championship with his poor play in the clutch.


Magic Johnson Told Michael Cooper They Won’t Ever Lose To The Celtics After 1984

For a serial winner like Johnson, this was a tough blow. It was not something that he ever wanted to experience again, and Magic told teammate Michael Copper they wouldn’t ever lose to the Celtics again.

“We were in the locker room, and it was just horrible, man,” Cooper said. “We were just sitting there, and Magic and I were the last two to take a shower. We were sitting in the corner — I remember this vividly — the water’s running, and Magic said this. He said, “You know what, Coop? We will never lose to these motherf****** again.Magic Johnson or Tragic Johnson?": How the Lakers legend's collapses helped  Larry Bird and his Celtics win the 1984 NBA Finals - The SportsRush

“It was the way he said it. When your leaders say something a certain way, it makes you sit up and pay attention. And you know we came back, and we had you guys focused, number one, from Day One.”

The Lakers and Celtics would face off in the NBA Finals in 1985 and 1987, with L.A. winning both times. Johnson even won Finals MVP in 1987 and while the bitter taste of 1984 might not have been washed away, he at least had some redemption.

Related posts