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1979–80 NBA season

1979–80 NBA season
League National Basketball Association
Sport Basketball
Duration Oct 12, 1979 – Mar 30, 1980
Apr 2–30, 1980 (Playoffs)
May 4–16, 1980 (Finals)
Number of teams 22
TV partner(s) CBS, USA
Top draft pick Magic Johnson
Picked by Los Angeles Lakers
Regular season
Season MVP Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (Los Angeles)
Top scorer San Antonio)
Eastern champions Philadelphia 76ers
  Eastern runners-up Boston Celtics
Western champions Los Angeles Lakers
  Western runners-up Seattle SuperSonics
Champions Los Angeles Lakers
  Runners-up Philadelphia 76ers
Finals MVP Magic Johnson (Los Angeles)

The 1979–80 NBA season was the 34th season of the National Basketball Association. The season ended with the Los Angeles Lakers winning the NBA Championship, beating the Philadelphia 76ers 4 games to 2 in the NBA Finals, and is notable for being the year in which the three-point field goal was adopted.

Notable occurrences

  • The NBA officially adopts the three-point field goal. Boston Celtics guard Chris Ford made the first three-pointer on October 12, 1979 against the Houston Rockets.
  • The number of officials is reduced from three to two following a one-season experiment with three-man officiating crews. The three-official system will be re-adopted permanently for the 1988-89 season.
  • The Jazz relocate from New Orleans, Louisiana to Salt Lake City, Utah and move from the Central Division to the Midwest Division (with the Indiana Pacers replacing them).
  • The Kansas City Kings are forced to play most of the season at the Municipal Auditorium after the roof at Kemper Arena collapses due to high wind on June 4, 1979. The Kings played the 1972-73 and 1973-74 seasons at Municipal Auditorium while splitting their home schedule between Kansas City and Omaha.
  • Dr. Jerry Buss purchases the Los Angeles Lakers franchise from Jack Kent Cooke prior to the season.
  • The San Antonio Spurs wins the game's MVP award.
  • This was the first season the NBA had a cable television partner. The USA Network signed a 3-year, 1.5 million dollar deal.
  • Magic Johnson and Larry Bird's rookie season, the 1979–80 NBA season is considered, by many, to be the birth of the modern game. Playing an up tempo style, the NBA appealed to a wider audience.
  • Darryl Dawkins broke two backboards: one at Kansas City's Municipal Auditorium on November 13, 1979, and a second backboard 23 days later at the Philadelphia Spectrum. Because his dunks resulted in delays while teams went to find another backboard, the NBA eventually modified their basketball rims to make them collapsible.
  • Former NBA official and CBS analyst Mendy Rudolph died on July 4, 1979. All NBA referee shirts sport the No. 5 patch in his honor, and it was retired permanently.

Final standings

By division

By conference


  • z – Clinched home court advantage for the entire playoffs and first round bye
  • c – Clinched home court advantage for the conference playoffs and first round bye
  • y – Clinched division title and first round bye
  • x – Clinched playoff spot


Teams in bold advanced to the next round. The numbers to the left of each team indicate the team's seeding in its conference, and the numbers to the right indicate the number of games the team won in that round. The division champions are marked by an asterisk. Home court advantage does not necessarily belong to the higher-seeded team, but instead the team with the better regular season record; teams enjoying the home advantage are shown in italics.

  First Round Conference Semifinals Conference Finals NBA Finals
  1  Los Angeles 4  
    4  Phoenix 1  
4  Phoenix 2
5  Kansas City 1  
  1  Los Angeles 4  
Western Conference
  3  Seattle 1  
3  Seattle 2  
6  Portland 1  
  3  Seattle 4
    2  Milwaukee 3  
  W1  Los Angeles 4
  E3  Philadelphia 2
  1  Boston 4
    4  Houston 0  
4  Houston 2
5  San Antonio 1  
  1  Boston 1
Eastern Conference
  3  Philadelphia 4  
3  Philadelphia 2  
6  Washington 0  
  3  Philadelphia 4
    2  Atlanta 1  

Statistics leaders

Category Player Team Stat
Points per game George Gervin San Antonio Spurs 33.1
Rebounds per game Swen Nater San Diego Clippers 15.0
Assists per game [[Micheal
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