By the time these teams arrived to the final stage of the season, the Pistons and Lakers were running on fumes, exhausted by years of 100-plus game seasons. Star point guard Isiah Thomas played a mere 48 contests, 35-year old Gerald Henderson proved an insufficient placeholder. Detroit’s win total dropped to 50, nine fewer from their 1989-90 campaign. The infrastructure proved strong and weathered the storm, overcoming the plucky Atlanta Hawks, old rival Celtics, and young blood Charles Barkley an the Sixers in relative back-and-forth series.
In the west, the Lakers are a quiet all-time team. Top 5 in offensive and defensive ratings, the two pronged front court of Sam Perkins and Vlade Divac is superior to anything the Lakers received from Kareem past the year 1987. Kareem arguably was the corpse dragging L.A. down in 1989. Los Angeles desperately needed a youth movement to succeed the championship core. Their prayers finally were answered. After a humiliating exit at the hands of Phoenix in 1990, under the leadership of Mike Dunleavy in place of Pat Riley, L.A. blew past Houston, Golden State and handily took care of the younger, faster Trial Blazers.
Where the Lakers are thick in depth, the Pistons are thin. A mixture of old and young hands steadily guiding the ship. Behind Magic’s steady 19 point, 15 assists, 10 rebound triple-double series, the Lakers despatched Detroit in six-games capturing his sixth championship since entering the league in 1979-80.