James Worthy was the star in high school, in college and superstar in the NBA, particularly in the playoffs.
With his high field goal percentage, dazzling speed and frightening tomahawks, he was ridiculously good player with unbelievable footwork. He could finish with either hand on a fast break equally good.
Often times, when going up against taller defenders, he’d use the “finger roll”. It’s an interesting story of how he seriously started playing basketball.
He started playing ball at the age of 4. His dad was a Baptist minister who believed in honesty, hard work and integrity.
James parents wanted him to go to college but taking into account that his father was a minister makes a whole lot of sense that they didn’t have enough money.
And so, James decided to help his parents out by getting a scholarship and the way he did it was through basketball. As he says… “that’s the only reason why I wanted to play ball”.
That’s how his “mission” started. In high school (Ashbrook High) he was making local headlines with his victories.
James was big (6 foot 9 inches), very fast and an accurate shooter. As a senior he was so good that opponents started cheering for him and eventually, so many scholarship offers poured in.
In college, he played for the University of North Carolina with another superstar, Michael Jordan. His college teammates remember him as the man among boys. Jordan had some great games with some clutch shots, but overall, it was James Worthy who was the most worthy player and as a result he won the Most Outstanding Player Award from the 1982 NCAA Final Four.
James was the first overall pick in the 1982 NBA Draft to the Los Angeles Lakers. If he got into any other team but the Lakers, he was gonna be an immediate star. Because in the Lakers, for 2 or 3 years, though widely accepted, he was in the shadow of Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul Jabbar.
Johnson quickly realized that they have another talent in their team. He said that James definitely had the brains to go along with his physical gifts.
His first appearance in the NBA was immediately put to the test when he made a costly mistake against the Boston Celtics in 1984 finals. But later on in his career he delivered one of the best individual play off performances. Maybe in North Carolina he learned how to play alongside Michael Jordan and handle those pressure moments:)
Through hard work, persistence and excellence, he was a guy to be reckoned with. A crucial ingredient in the lethal fast break with Michael Cooper, Byron Scott and with true magic man, Magic Johnson called showtime.
James Worthy was nicknamed “Big Game James” by play-by-play announcer for the Los Angeles Lakers, Chick Hearn.
Probably one of his best games was in Game 7 in the 1988 NBA Finals against the Pistons. He scored 36 points with 16 rebounds and 10 assists which was also his first triple double.
His teammate Magic Johnson once said that he was incredibly quite. He never got too excited over a win or complain over a loss. He was never the guy to go to the locker room and shout at everybody.
It’s an interesting thing of how his points and rebounds and all that, was always higher in the playoff games than in the regular season.
Because of some problems with his knees Worthy decided to put an end to his 12 year career. For him, his greatest moment as a professional player was defeating the Boston Celtics in 1985. In total, he has three championship rings and an MVP Award from the 1988 NBA Finals (the year when he had his first triple double).