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1980–81 NBA season

1980–81 NBA season

The 1980–81 NBA season was the 35th season of the National Basketball Association. The season ended with the Boston Celtics winning the NBA Championship, beating the Houston Rockets 4 games to 2 in the NBA Finals. As of 2019, this was the last time an NBA season (including postseason) had ended before Memorial Day.

1980–81 NBA season
LeagueNational Basketball Association
DurationOct 10, 1980 – Mar 29, 1981
Mar 31 – May 3, 1981 (Playoffs)
May 5–14, 1981 (Finals)
Number of teams23
TV partner(s)CBS, USA
Top draft pickJoe Barry Carroll
Picked byGolden State Warriors
Regular season
Top seedBoston Celtics
Season MVPJulius Erving (Philadelphia)
Top scorerAdrian Dantley (Utah)
Eastern championsBoston Celtics
  Eastern runners-upPhiladelphia 76ers
Western championsHouston Rockets
  Western runners-upKansas City Kings
ChampionsBoston Celtics
  Runners-upHouston Rockets
Finals MVPCedric Maxwell (Boston)

Notable occurrences

  • The Dallas Mavericks become the league's 23rd franchise. As a result, the NBA realigns four of its teams to better reflect their geographical locations (the Milwaukee Bucks and Chicago Bulls move to the Eastern Conference and the San Antonio Spurs and Houston Rockets to the Western Conference).

  • The 1981 NBA All-Star Game was played at the Richfield Coliseum near Cleveland, Ohio, with the East defeating the West 123–120. Nate Archibald of the Boston Celtics wins the game's MVP award.

  • To date, this was the final time that a regular-season had ended during the month of March.

  • The Houston Rockets (40–42) become just the second team in NBA history (to date) to make the finals without posting a winning record during the regular season. The Kansas City Kings, their opponents in the Western Conference Finals, also posted a 40–42 record.

  • It was the final season for the likes of Rudy Tomjanovich, Wes Unseld, and Jo Jo White.

Coaching changes
Team1979–80 coach1980–81 coach
Cleveland CavaliersStan AlbeckBill Musselman
Dallas MavericksExpansionDick Motta
Detroit PistonsRichie AdubatoScotty Robertson
Golden State WarriorsJohnny BachAl Attles
Indiana PacersBobby LeonardJack McKinney
San Antonio SpursBob BassStan Albeck
San Diego ClippersGene ShuePaul Silas
Washington BulletsDick MottaGene Shue
TeamOutgoing coachIncoming coach
Atlanta HawksHubie BrownMike Fratello
Cleveland CavaliersBill MusselmanDon Delaney
Denver NuggetsDonnie WalshDoug Moe
New Jersey NetsKevin LougheryBob MacKinnon

Final standings

By division

Atlantic DivisionWLPCTGBHomeRoadDiv
y-Boston Celtics6220.75635–627–1419–5
x-Philadelphia 76ers6220.75637–425–1615–9
x-New York Knicks5032.61012.028–1322–1914–10
Washington Bullets3943.47623.026–1513–288–16
New Jersey Nets2458.29338.016–258–338–16
Central DivisionWLPCTGBHomeRoadDiv
y-Milwaukee Bucks6022.73234–726–1523–7
x-Chicago Bulls4537.54915.026–1519–2220–9
x-Indiana Pacers4438.53716.027–1417–2417–12
Atlanta Hawks3151.37829.020–2111–309–21
Cleveland Cavaliers2854.34132.020–218–339–21
Detroit Pistons2161.25639.014–277–349–21
Midwest DivisionWLPCTGBHomeRoadDiv
y-San Antonio Spurs5230.63434–718–2321–9
x-Kansas City Kings4042.48812.024–1716–2519–11
x-Houston Rockets4042.48812.025–1615–2619–11
Denver Nuggets3745.45115.023–1814–2713–17
Utah Jazz2854.34124.020–218–3313–17
Dallas Mavericks1567.18337.011–304–375–25
Pacific DivisionWLPCTGBHomeRoadDiv
y-Phoenix Suns5725.69536–521–2022–8
x-Los Angeles Lakers5428.6593.030–1124–1719–11
x-Portland Trail Blazers4537.54912.030–1115–2618–12
Golden State Warriors3943.47618.026–1513–2810–20
San Diego Clippers3646.43921.022–1914–2714–16
Seattle SuperSonics3448.41523.022–1912–297–23

By conference

Eastern Conference
1z-Boston Celtics6220.756 –
2y-Milwaukee Bucks6022.7322
3x-Philadelphia 76ers6220.756
4x-New York Knicks5032.61012
5x-Chicago Bulls4537.54917
6x-Indiana Pacers4438.53718
7Washington Bullets3943.47623
8Atlanta Hawks3151.37831
9Cleveland Cavaliers2854.34134
10New Jersey Nets2458.29338
11Detroit Pistons2161.25641

Western Conference
1c-Phoenix Suns5725.695
2y-San Antonio Spurs5032.6345
3x-Los Angeles Lakers5428.6593
4x-Portland Trail Blazers4537.54912
5x-Kansas City Kings4042.48817
6x-Houston Rockets4042.48817
7Golden State Warriors3943.47618
8Denver Nuggets3745.45120
9San Diego Clippers3646.43921
10Seattle SuperSonics3448.41523
11Utah Jazz2854.34129
12Dallas Mavericks1567.18342


  • 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. Note that in the Western Conference, the lower seeded team won every series.

First RoundConference SemifinalsConference FinalsNBA Finals
5Kansas City4
5Kansas City2
5Kansas City1
Western Conference
3Los Angeles1
2San Antonio3
4New York0
Eastern Conference

Statistics leaders

Points per gameAdrian DantleyUtah Jazz30.7
Rebounds per gameMoses MaloneHouston Rockets14.8
Assists per gameKevin PorterWashington Bullets9.1
Steals per gameMagic JohnsonLos Angeles Lakers3.43
Blocks per gameGeorge JohnsonSan Antonio Spurs3.39
FG%Artis GilmoreChicago Bulls.670
FT%Calvin MurphyHouston Rockets.958
3FG%Brian TaylorSan Diego Clippers.383

NBA awards

  • Most Valuable Player: Julius Erving, Philadelphia 76ers

  • Rookie of the Year: Darrell Griffith, Utah Jazz

  • Coach of the Year: Jack McKinney, Indiana Pacers

  • All-NBA First Team: Larry Bird, Boston Celtics George Gervin, San Antonio Spurs Julius Erving, Philadelphia 76ers Dennis Johnson, Phoenix Suns Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Los Angeles Lakers

  • All-NBA Second Team: Marques Johnson, Milwaukee Bucks Adrian Dantley, Utah Jazz Moses Malone, Houston Rockets Otis Birdsong, Kansas City Kings Nate Archibald, Boston Celtics

  • All-NBA Rookie Team: Kelvin Ransey, Portland Trail Blazers Darrell Griffith, Utah Jazz Larry Smith, Golden State Warriors Kevin McHale, Boston Celtics Joe Barry Carroll, Golden State Warriors

  • NBA All-Defensive First Team: Bobby Jones, Philadelphia 76ers Caldwell Jones, Philadelphia 76ers Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Los Angeles Lakers Dennis Johnson, Phoenix Suns Micheal Ray Richardson, New York Knicks

  • NBA All-Defensive Second Team: Dan Roundfield, Atlanta Hawks Kermit Washington, Portland Trail Blazers George Johnson, San Antonio Spurs Quinn Buckner, Milwaukee Bucks Dudley Bradley, Indiana Pacers (tie) Michael Cooper, Los Angeles Lakers (tie)

*Note: All information on this page were obtained on the History section on NBA.com [1] *

Players of the week

Oct. 10 – Oct. 19Adrian Dantley (Utah Jazz) (1/1)
Oct. 20 – Oct. 26Otis Birdsong (Kansas City Kings) (1/1)
Oct. 27 – Nov. 02David Thompson (Denver Nuggets) (1/1)
Nov. 03 – Nov. 09Elvin Hayes (Washington Bullets) (1/1)
Nov. 10 – Nov. 16Billy Knight (Indiana Pacers) (1/1)
Nov. 17 – Nov. 23Artis Gilmore (Chicago Bulls) (1/1)
Nov. 24 – Nov. 30Robert Parish (Boston Celtics) (1/1)
Dec. 01 – Dec. 07Mike Dunleavy (Houston Rockets) (1/1)
Dec. 08 – Dec. 14Dan Roundfield (Atlanta Hawks) (1/1)
Dec. 15 – Dec. 21Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (Los Angeles Lakers) (1/1)
Dec. 22 – Dec. 28Dennis Johnson (Phoenix Suns) (1/1)
Dec. 29 – Jan. 04Bernard King (Golden State Warriors) (1/1)
Jan. 05 – Jan. 11Nate Archibald (Boston Celtics) (1/1)
Jan. 12 – Jan. 18Julius Erving (Philadelphia 76ers) (1/1)
Jan. 19 – Jan. 25Phil Ford (Kansas City Kings) (1/1)
Jan. 26 – Feb. 01Kenny Carr (Cleveland Cavaliers) (1/1)
Feb. 02 – Feb. 08Caldwell Jones (Philadelphia 76ers) (1/1)
Feb. 09 – Feb. 15Mike Newlin (New Jersey Nets) (1/1)
Feb. 16 – Feb. 22Mike Mitchell (Cleveland Cavaliers) (1/1)
Mar. 02 – Mar. 08Larry Smith (Golden State Warriors) (1/1)
Mar. 09 – Mar. 15Moses Malone (Houston Rockets) (1/1)
Mar. 16 – Mar. 22Michael Ray Richardson (New York Knicks) (1/1)
Mar. 23 – Mar. 29Robert Reid (Houston Rockets) (1/1)

Players of the month

OctoberMagic Johnson (Los Angeles Lakers) (1/1)
NovemberJulius Erving (Philadelphia 76ers) (1/1)
DecemberFreeman Williams (San Diego Clippers) (1/1)
JanuaryBernard King (Golden State Warriors) (1/1)
FebruaryCalvin Murphy (Houston Rockets) (1/1)
MarchKelvin Ransey (Portland Trail Blazers) (1/1)


Citation Linkwww.nba.comNBA.com
Sep 19, 2019, 5:56 AM
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Sep 19, 2019, 5:56 AM