Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was ‘basketball’s best weapon’
He scored 16 points in the first half. But even as the Lakers built a big lead in the third quarter, Abdul-Jabbar resisted hard shots and constantly passed out from traps. A 12-footer along the baseline gave him 18 points for the game. Early in the fourth quarter, the game was so out of reach that Jazz coach Frank Layden began pulling key players to save them for the playoffs.
But Abdul-Jabbar was so close to the record that he re-entered the game, and he tied Chamberlain when James Worthy passed him for a dunk. The next assist had to come from Johnson, and when Johnson passed out of action to Bob McAdoo, one of the Lakers’ reserves, his teammates yelled at McAdoo to pass it back to Johnson.
“Magic almost ran and grabbed it,” Scott said, laughing at the memory.
Bob Hansen, a first-year guard for the Jazz that season, was guarding Johnson and made the unconventional decision to give him some space to make an entry pass to Abdul-Jabbar on the right block.
“I didn’t really want to get in the way of the story,” Hansen said.
Hansen’s teammates had other ideas. Eaton and Green tried to double the 7-2 Abdul-Jabbar, but he took a dribble, pivoted to his right, then spun to his left to get up for an overhead hook over the dreaded Eaton such a moment. Chick Hearn, the Lakers’ longtime play-by-play announcer, rejoiced when the ball went through the hoop.
“The new scoring king has ascended his throne,” Hearn said on the broadcast as Abdul-Jabbar’s teammates embraced him. “This man has accomplished something that I don’t believe – and I mean this – I don’t think will ever happen again.”
As reporters, photographers and dignitaries swarmed Abdul-Jabbar, Hansen waded through the mass of humanity with the ball in his hands. He found Abdul-Jabbar near midcourt.
“I said, ‘Here, big boy, here’s the ball. Do you want the ball? He was like, ‘Yeah! Thanks, little man,” said Hansen, who is 6-6. “And he patted me on the head.”