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Lakers legend recalls challenging story during the 1980 NBA Finals

By James Brown

Lakers legend recalls challenging story during the 1980 NBA Finals

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar recalls how Spencer Haywood was dismiss from the Lakers during the 1980 NBA Finals.

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Abdul-Jabbar launched his first podcast episode of Skyhook, where he talked about the two championships the Lakers won in 1980 and 1982. Norm Nixon, Kareem's former teammate, was a guest during the podcast, as he was also part of the two titles. Both players recall the story when head coach Paul Westhead  dismissed Spencer Haywood from the team during the 1980 Finals.

According to the former players, Haywood was dismissed by Westhead after Game 3 of the 1980 finals for falling asleep during a team workout, alongside other distractions.The Lakers traded for the forward to help Kareem in the frontcourt. But according to the Hall of Famer, it didn't end up as how it was expected.

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Kareem Abdul-Jabbar explained during the podcast that, “Dealing with Spencer, that was not fun. I had known Spencer a long time by that point, from my rookie year. To see him fall to pieces just as we’re ready to start the playoffs, that was like oh no, come on man. I’m gonna be out there by myself again?”

Spencer Haywood averaged 9.7 points, 4.6 rebounds and 1.2 assists in 76 games in 1979-80. He was a serviceable player until he was dismissed. According to Kareem, the adversity was just something they needed to learn from and move forward. "We put them behind us and started playing the game. That made a big difference.”

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar 1980 season.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar averaged 24.8 points, 10.8 rebounds and 4.5 assists in 82 games in 1979-80. His dominant numbers gave him a selection to his tenth All-Star game. That season, Kareem won his sixth and final MVP award alongside his second NBA championship.


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