Record: 60-22, first place in Pacific Division
During the off-season, owner Jack Kent Cooke sold the Lakers and the Great Western Forum to Jerry Buss for $67.5 million. Buss brought in Jack McKinney as the new coach. McKinney coached the team to a 10-4 record before suffering a life-threatening injury in a bicycle accident. He was replaced by Paul Westhead. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar won his sixth NBA MVP award as the Lakers stormed to a 60-22 record.
Playoffs: The Lakers easily advanced to the NBA Finals, in which Julius Erving and Philadelphia 76ers waited. After splitting the first two games, the Lakers won Game 5 thanks in large part to the 40 points scored by Abdul-Jabbar, but the Lakers center suffered a sprained ankle in the game.
With Abdul-Jabbar unable to play in Game 6, Magic Johnson turned in perhaps the greatest performance in NBA Finals history. Still just a 20-year-old rookie, Johnson scored 42 points, grabbed 15 rebounds and had seven assists to carry the Lakers to a victory and the NBA title.