Showtime: The power and pageantry of the 1980s Lakers

Mar 4, 2014
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Magic Johnson #32 of the Los Angeles Lakers drives past Derrick Harper #12 of the Dallas Mavericks during an NBA game at the Great Western Forum in Los Angeles, California in 1986.; Credit: Rick Stewart/Getty Images

In the 1980s, the Los Angeles Lakers redefined professional basketball—transforming the sport into a full-on spectacle in line with the excess of the era.

A freewheeling fast-break offense,  19-year-old ‘Magic’ Johnson’s signature no-look pass, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s unstoppable skyhook, scantily-clad Laker Girls, and celebrity spectators were all hallmarks of what became the most exhilarating show in professional sports.

That opulent era—known as “Showtime” is the subject of author Jeff Pearlman’s book, “Showtime: Magic, Kareem, Riley and the Los Angeles Lakers Dynasty of the 1980s.” Drawing on nearly 300 interviews, Pearlman provides an all-access pass to one of the NBA’s greatest dynasties.

Among the behind-the-scenes details and surprising anecdotes are stories of Magic Johnson’s booze-soaked house parties, the firing of Pat Riley and the Stepford-like lives of the Laker wives.

Do you remember the heyday of “Showtime” in the 1980s—when the Lakers won 5 championships and the hardwood floor at The Forum was the hottest stage in town?


Jeff Pearlman, author of “Showtime: Magic, Kareem, Riley, and the Los Angeles Lakers Dynasty of the 1980s” (Gotham, 2014). He is also the author of numerous books, including the New York Times best-sellers “Sweetness: The Enigmatic Life of Walter Payton” (Gotham, 2012) and “Boys Will Be Boys” (Harper Perennial, 2009), a biography of the 1990s Dallas Cowboys

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