1991–92 Los Angeles Lakers season

The 1991–92 NBA season was the Lakers' 44th season in the National Basketball Association, and 32nd in the city of Los Angeles. This was the start of a new era for the Los Angeles Lakers, as they were coming from an NBA Finals defeat to the Chicago Bulls in five games, but also with the sudden retirement of their longtime superstar, Magic Johnson, after he announced that he was HIV positive. Johnson would briefly come back and play in the 1992 NBA All-Star Game, winning the All-Star MVP award. During the offseason, the Lakers acquired Sedale Threatt from the Seattle SuperSonics. Starting the season without Johnson for the first time since 1979, the Lakers won 10 of their first 13 games, including a nine-game winning streak. However, they struggled in February, losing seven straight games and posting a 3–9 record during the month. The Lakers ultimately finished sixth in the Pacific Division with a 43–39 record, which was their worst record since the 1975–76 season.

As the #8 seed in the Western Conference, the Lakers were defeated in the first round of the playoffs by the Portland Trail Blazers, 3–1. Following the season, Mike Dunleavy left and took a coaching job with the Milwaukee Bucks.

Draft picks

Roster

Roster listing
1991–92 Los Angeles Lakers roster
PlayersCoaches
Pos.No.NameHeightWeightDOB (YYYY-MM-DD)From
SF6Brown, Chucky6 ft 7 in (2.01 m)214 lb (97 kg)1968–02–29North Carolina State
C41Campbell, Elden6 ft 11 in (2.11 m)215 lb (98 kg)1968–07–23Clemson
C12Divac, Vlade7 ft 1 in (2.16 m)243 lb (110 kg)1968–02–03Serbia
PF45Green, A. C.6 ft 9 in (2.06 m)220 lb (100 kg)1963–10–04Oregon State
C54Haley, Jack6 ft 10 in (2.08 m)240 lb (109 kg)1964–01–27UCLA
SF25Owens, Keith6 ft 7 in (2.01 m)225 lb (102 kg)1969–05–31UCLA
PF14Perkins, Sam Injured6 ft 9 in (2.06 m)235 lb (107 kg)1961–06–14North Carolina
PF43Robinson, Cliff6 ft 9 in (2.06 m)220 lb (100 kg)1960–03–13Southern California
SG4Scott, Byron6 ft 4 in (1.93 m)195 lb (88 kg)1961–03–28Arizona State
PG34Smith, Tony6 ft 3 in (1.91 m)185 lb (84 kg)1968–06–14Marquette
PG2Sparrow, Rory6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)175 lb (79 kg)1958–06–12Villanova
SG20Teagle, Terry6 ft 5 in (1.96 m)195 lb (88 kg)1960–04–10Baylor
PG3Threatt, Sedale6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)175 lb (79 kg)1961–09–10West Virginia Tech
SF42Worthy, James Injured6 ft 9 in (2.06 m)225 lb (102 kg)1961–02–27North Carolina
Head coach
Assistant coach(es)

Legend
  • (C) Team captain
  • (DP) Unsigned draft pick
  • (FA) Free agent
  • (S) Suspended
  • Injured Injured

Roster
Last transaction: 1992–04–08

Regular season

Season standings

y - clinched division title
x - clinched playoff spot
z - clinched division title
y - clinched division title
x - clinched playoff spot

Record vs. opponents

The Lakers were the first team in NBA history to start the season with three straight overtime games, with their season opener being a double-overtime loss to the Houston Rockets. They went 1-2 during that time. After a third loss, to the Phoenix Suns, they went on a nine-game winning streak to finish November with an 11-4 record, which would be their longest winning streak of the season. They struggled in February, going 3-9, with a seven-game losing streak. They would finish the season with a 43-39 record, placing sixth in the Pacific Division and clinching the eighth and final seed for the playoffs.

Game log

Playoffs

West First Round

(1) Portland Trail Blazers vs. (8) Los Angeles Lakers: Blazers win series 3–1

Last Playoff Meeting: 1991 Western Conference Finals (Los Angeles won 4-2)

Player statistics

Legend
  GPGames played  GS Games started MPG Minutes per game
 FG% Field-goal percentage 3P% 3-point field-goal percentage FT% Free-throw percentage
 RPG Rebounds per game APG Assists per game SPG Steals per game
 BPG Blocks per game PPG Points per game

Season

Playoffs

Magic’s retirement

Starting point guard Magic Johnson missed the first three games with an unspecified "stomach ailment". On November 7, 1991, Johnson announced that he had tested positive for HIV and would immediately retire. Johnson discovered his condition after attempting to purchase life insurance and failing the HIV test conducted by Lakers team doctor. During the press conference, he stated that his wife Cookie and unborn child were HIV negative and that he would become an advocate for HIV education and prevention. The NBA world was shocked; U. S. president George H. W. Bush said: "For me, Magic is a hero, a hero for anyone who loves sports." Johnson was still listed on the roster, as an injured reserve, and continued to be paid.

Johnson was voted in on the West team for the 1992 NBA All-Star Game. Columnists and other people speculated on whether he would play. Because HIV is spread through blood, some players voiced concerns about being infected if Johnson were to get a bleeding wound and touch them. Utah Jazz forward Karl Malone was the most vocal player to express concern. Nevertheless, Johnson played in the All-Star Game, leading the West to a 153-113 win and being named the All-Star Most Valuable Player (MVP). The game ended with 14.5 seconds remaining; when Johnson drained a last-minute three-pointer, other players ran on the court to congratulate Johnson and exchange high-fives. It would be Johnson's last game until he made a brief return at the end of the 1995–96 season.

Magic and the Dream Team

Despite being HIV positive, Johnson was chosen for the US team for the 1992 Summer Olympics. The squad was quickly dubbed the Dream Team because of its abundance of NBA stars such as Jordan, Karl Malone and Bird, but Johnson was the main attraction. At the Olympic Opening Ceremony, German tennis player Steffi Graf ordered colleague Barbara Rittner to photograph her with Johnson, and in the match against Spain, Spanish captain Juan Antonio San Epifanio and his squad demonstratively hugged him, showing that his HIV infection did not matter to them. During the tournament, Johnson struggled with knee problems and played for only a fraction of the games. The point guard position was mostly run by Utah Jazz all-time assist leader John Stockton, but Johnson's presence alone was enough to provoke standing ovations from the crowd. He used the spotlight to attempt to inspire HIV positive people in several interviews.

Awards and Records

Transactions

Uses material from the Wikipedia article 1991–92 Los Angeles Lakers season, released under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license.