Remember when you played youth basketball and there was that one parent who didn’t know when to keep his or her mouth shut? That is Mychal Thompson in this year’s NBA Finals.
Earlier in the series, Mychal Thompson, father of Warriors sharpshooter Klay Thompson, lit a fire when he said this year’s Warriors could beat his Showtime Lakers of the 1980s. For those who don’t know, the Showtime Lakers were known for their fast-paced, exciting brand of basketball and won five NBA titles in the 1980s under the leadership of Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Undoubtedly one of the greatest teams of all time, the Showtime Lakers at their best could compete with any team from any era.
So who would win if Showtime squared off against the Dubs? Depending on which era we set the game in, the outcome could be very different. Nevertheless, the individual matchups say a lot about what would happen if these two titans could ever clash.
POINT GUARD: Magic Johnson v. Stephen Curry
Here we have one of the greatest players of all time up against one of the greatest shooters of all time. Although nobody seems to be able to contain Stephen Curry as of late, he has never gone up against an opposing point guard with the size and speed of Magic Johnson. Standing at 6 feet 9 inches with a wingspan upwards of 7 feet, Johnson would be able to combat Curry’s quick dribble and nimble movements. Curry would get his points as he always does, but Magic would make it a lot harder on him. On the other side of the ball, Curry wouldn’t stand a chance against Magic’s driving ability. In fact, I suspect that Klay Thompson would guard Magic in such a game.
SHOOTING GUARD: Byron Scott v. Klay Thompson
Most people know Byron Scott from his time coaching the New Jersey Nets and Los Angeles Lakers, among other teams. Scott was also a key scoring option for Showtime in the mid to late 1980’s. Like Thompson, Scott was known for his three-point shooting and perimeter defense. With very similar games, it is hard to say who would win this matchup. If we accept my theory of Thompson guarding Magic, however, I think Scott would have an offensive advantage on Stephen Curry – as do most starting guards in the NBA.
SMALL FORWARD: James Worthy v. Harrison Barnes
James Worthy won a national title with Michael Jordan at the University of North Carolina in 1981. Worthy was lethal in transition, quick down the court and a great finisher with either hand. He was also one of the best post-up small forwards of his time. That being said, I believe that Harrison Barnes’s ability to defend the perimeter and the post would trouble Worthy a bit. I give Big Game James the advantage, however, considering he would be able to silence Harrison Barnes’ mediocre offensive skill set.
POWER FORWARD: A.C. Green v. Draymond Green
If this game were set in the Showtime era, I believe that Draymond Green would be one of the only Warriors players who wouldn’t be frazzled by the physicality. Regardless of the era, he would be going up against the Laker’s garbage man, A.C. Green. A valued rebounder and rim protector, A.C. Green gave opposing power forwards fits down low. I don’t think he would be able to contain Draymond, however, given DrayMagic’s (a nickname coined by Magic Johnson himself) tendency to bring the ball up the floor and outside-in style of play. Not to discredit A.C. Green, but power forwards like Draymond did not exist in the 1980’s.
CENTER: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar v. Andrew Bogut
With all due respect to Andrew Bogut, this matchup is no contest. If the likes of Moses Malone, Robert Parish, and Hakeem Olajuwon had trouble containing the Captain, Andrew Bogut wouldn’t do much better. As good a rim protector as Bogut is, Abdul-Jabbar was not much of a power player – he would beat opponents in the post with his finesse and patented sky hook. Like Bogut, Abdul-Jabbar was also an elite shot blocker and would be able to combat the dump off passes to Bogut off drives from Curry, Thompson and Green.
All in all, the Lakers starting five would have a step on the Warriors’ group in this imaginary matchup. That being said, the Warriors have one of the best benches of all time, something that would give them a leg up on the Lakers over the course of a game. An extended series between these two teams would go all the way, but in one game I believe Showtime would triumph.
Too bad time travel isn’t real and we can’t bring this game to life. Perhaps the next best thing would be to test the matchup on 2K – yes, I tried and yes, the Lakers won.