A Look Back: Magic’s ‘Junior Sky-Hook’

HANG TIME PLAYOFF HEADQUARTERS — As both Kevin Durant and LeBron James have reminded us all in the past three days, the NBA playoffs is a platform tailor-made for high drama and superstars willing to add to their lore.

The reigning and three-time NBA scoring champ smashes the competition with a 34-point, 14-rebound, 5-assist performance in a decisive Game 6 in the Western Conference finals, leading his team to a spot in The Finals. This a day before the three-time and reigning MVP follows that up with a historic 45-point, 15-rebounds, 5-assist showing of his own in a road Game 6 win that saved his team’s season and the chance to meet up with the scoring champ and his team in The Finals.

But Durant and James, respectively, are only following in the Hall of Fame footsteps of their elders. Guys like Magic Johnson, who 25 years ago today, delivered one of the all-time great playoff moments with a “junior sky-hook” that, on that day in 1987 during The Finals in Boston, shook the basketball world off of its feet.

For those of us lucky enough (and old enough) to remember Game 4 of The Finals that year, Magic’s homage to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar‘s signature move never gets old. As heartbreaking as it had to be then and even now, the most dedicated Celtics fans have to admit it’s one of the greatest shots in playoff history.

Magic’s running sky-hook over three Celtics (Kevin McHale with Larry Bird and Robert Parish closing in) with three seconds to play proved to be the difference as the Lakers rallied from a 16-point deficit to snatch a 107-106 Game 4 win at Boston Garden and a 3-1 series lead.

“You expect to lose to the Lakers on a sky-hook,” Bird said afterwards. “You don’t expect it to be from Magic.”

The Lakers would go on to win the series in six games.

Check out the video and relive that Magic moment. Sorry, Celtics fans.

And who knows, we could be in for more tonight when the Heat and Celtics square off in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals in Miami. 


  1. Mike G says:

    SWISH!!I know that really hurt Celtic fans. As bird would say “No rim”

  2. me says:

    best year of showtime, best moment of showtime, game 4 1987 finals. fun remembering it today.

  3. darko says:

    The real point of the play was the pick and clearing the paint in order that Magic could penetrate and draw Parish on the help defense. Kareem would have had most any rebound, or could even have gotten the lob. The fact that Magic went with the hook is nice but irrelevant- better he had missed and Kareem had cleaned up, time management-wise. Why give Bird a chance to beat you?

  4. W/E says:

    Larry Bird FAILED the last shot of the game

  5. Robert - Basketball Fan says:

    The Magic junior sky hook was incredible. The Magic game and ball distribution was incredible was well. Which ultimately pushed me away from the Lakers of today. As great as he is Kobe’s selfish mindset is not fun to watch. I really loved watching Magic throw the ball all over but particularly down low to his big man ( who by the way had the Sky hook). Magic would throw low once, Kareem right back and then Magic would often times throw it right back for the repost. This would happen multiple times throughout the games in the playoffs. Ball movement was off the charts in those days. Truly a show and fun to watch.

    • NBAfan says:

      Basketball was different back then. Apples and oranges man!

      A magic in his prime won’t even have a shot at stopping guys like Rose, Westbrook, and Parker. They are just too quick for him. Magic will be forced to play small forward….then at that position, he is not strong enough or can jump high enough to compete with guys like Lebron Rudy Gay or Durant.

      I find Kobe’s game very fun to watch personally….but it’s not for everybody…he just operates at a different level than MOST FANS can truly appreciate…even if he were to play for the bobcats, I’d still like how he approaches the game…it’s cerebral…it’s MUCH MORE SOPHISTICATED than the very basic basketball that Lebron and KD plays….

      Boston, San Antonio, the championship Pistons team and Kobe’s Lakers are teams who just played at a different level than most. They are the true super teams of this generation.

      This new generation that OKC vs MIA is ushering in…it’s just individual players teaming up with each other….give the ball to Lebron and get out of the way. Give the ball to Wade and let him do his thing. Give Westbrook the green light to attack attack attack. Let it fly durant, let it fly….that’s the basketball we can look forward too…

      Boston and Spurs are old. The old Pistons team is long gone…it’s only Kobe’s Lakers left…hope they can get to the finals one more time….

  6. TS says:

    Well maybe if the refs didn’t reward players with free throws, after flopping while driving to the basket, then guys might actually work on taking legitimate shots in the lane?

  7. dattebayo says:

    When you look at those Laker and Celtic Teams, you have 3 or more players who were later inducted into the Hall of Fame as players. I am only 25 and can only watch a few games and highlights from back then. I can’t say how good those players were in each year and whether they were in their prime together or not. Clearly though, you don’t get inducted into the Hall of Fame for nothing and those players had the privilege of playing together and winning NBA titles together. I guess all of them were multiple or at the very least one time Allstars and earned various other NBA honors.

    Look at every team, that has won a title since 1996 and you will find many players on the same team with many NBA honors (Allstar appearences, NBA Team nominations, NBA awards).

    When I look at that 2007 Cavalier team, that went to the Finals and got swept by the Spurs, among all those players beside Lebron, we have just 2 Allstar appearences, 2 First Defensive Team nominations, 1 Defensive Second Team nomination and one Steals Champion title. That is the summary of honors for those 14 players beside Lebron, for the entire course of their careers up until now. I won’t bother checking to add to that list for the following seasons. If you count out Shaq and Ben Wallace, who were shades of their former selves in Cleveland, I don’t think you can add many more honors to that list.

    Now how can you find it surprising, that he left Cleveland and “never got it done”, meaning he never won a NBA Title?

    I enjoy watching him play, I think he is the best player in the game today by far (Durant is a bit better offensively, but he can’t and never had to work on defense the way James has to in almost every game). If he never wins it, he will be the best player to never win a title. He has a true shot to win it all in the next 3 years and still in this season.

    Sorry to get so far off topic, but it was on my mind. I agree, the Laker-Celtic Finals in the 80s were epic and they sure are fun to watch. Maybe someday the NBA will offer memorable games from then to purchase, so even people as young as me or even younger are able to watch it and appreciate Greatness.

  8. Woffie says:

    Bob wins as best comment on the article…I was born three months before that even, but i kind of feel you and every fan’s appreciation of the greatness of that era in basketball…

  9. Bob says:

    The Magic hook was incredible. I was looking for Larry Bird redemption, but it didn’t happen. As I age, I think it would be great to describe the great teams in detail. The Magic era Lakers were stacked, top to bottom. The weakest player, in my opinion, was Byron Scott, and he would have started for 95% of NBA teams. Thanks, for that memory. The Laker/ Celtic battles were epic. That era of basketball defines the true nature of basketball.