The Fury household in Janesville always holds some surprises. Old science papers, bizarre medical books, magazines that are a century old, records with Cheech & Chong skits that my parents pretend they never listened to.
On my current trip I discovered another relic — and another example of my nonexistent art skills. In my old bedroom, sitting under some printing paper and scrap paper — which was underneath a red clothes hanger — was a scrapbook I created in 1987 and finished in 1991. It was my Lakers scrapbook and contained clippings that heralded their 1987 title and run through the 1989 playoffs. It ends in 1991 because Magic Johnson’s career ended in 1991.
But let’s start at the beginning.
I was 12 when I wrote out those words: L.A LAKERS SCRAPBOOK.
Somehow I forgot to put the period after the A in LA, giving no indication I might one day have a career as a copy editor. I’d also become a newspaper designer at some point, creating front pages for both sports and, for a time, news. Tens of thousands of readers saw my work — my layouts and headlines, my cutouts and packaging. Look at that alternating purple and gold lettering. The lines on the As are remarkably straight, the ending K something a 5-year-old could produce. The title’s a bit redundant, since the front of the book called it a scrapbook. Should have been more creative on that inside page, maybe personalize it more. “SHAWN’S LAKERS MEMORIES” or something like that. And how about putting a picture below the title, maybe a shot of the 1987 team. Something, anything to get rid of that dreadful white space.
When the Lakers won the 1987 title, a family friend was out in LA at the time and returned to Minnesota with some LA Times papers along with sports sections from the “The Register,” which I’m guessing was or eventually became the Orange County Register. I also clipped out whatever AP articles appeared in the Mankato paper or staff articles from the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
Whoa, look at that full-page! It’s practically a double-truck. For some reason I usually only used the right-hand side of a page in the scrapbook but not this time. That’s James Worthy going up against a hobbled Bill Walton. The Kareem picture is sort of random and judging by the sides of the paper, I cut it while wearing a purple and gold blindfold. In seventh-grade my shop teacher told my parents he was scared to let me near the bandsaw; in sixth-grade someone should have kept me from a scissors. Still, the full-page cutout gives a hint of the newspaper artist I would eventually become.
For some reason I did nothing with the 1988 Finals, even though that was the Lakers’ crowning achievement of the decade as they became the first team to repeat as champions since 1969. I can remember watching Game 7 but I apparently had no interest in preserving that series in my book. Instead I picked it up again before the 1989 Finals, after the Lakers had swept through the Western Conference playoffs with an 11-0 record. Oddly, I chose to clip out a story about seventh-man Orlando Woolridge, who had enjoyed a nice playoff run. Magic, Worthy, Kareem, Scott, Cooper, Riley — crucial people in their success, sure. But I wanted to tape up a piece on Orlando Woolridge. And wow did I tape it up, using six pieces of tape for this little piece of paper. People who receive Christmas presents from me each year think my taping skills are subhuman but they’ve actually improved. Also, I put this 1989 stuff on the left page while on the right page are stories from 1987. Why the mix? Why the mixup? Had I rethought the idea of not using the left-hand pages?
The 1989 scrapbooking did not continue, not after Scott blew a hamstring, followed by Magic doing the same thing. Instead I returned to this book in 1991, before the Lakers faced the Bulls and Michael faced Magic.
I preserved two columns from the Star Tribune’s Dan Barreiro and actually had another one from 1989, “Michael’s Fine, but Magic’s Divine,” which defended voters picking Magic as the MVP (he was right, of course).
In 1991 Barreiro previewed the Finals with a cool clumn, “Lakers’ Johnson the real money man.” Again it broke down the old Jordan-Magic debate, which people today obviously give to Michael. But before those Finals you could make a great case for Magic, and Barreiro did.
“Let’s do away with any pretense. I bought a Magic Johnson jacket.” It includes the delightful phrase “Jordan bobos.” He talks about Magic’s famous play in the ’91 WCF, when he threw the ball down the court against Portland in the final seconds of Game 6, sealing the victory. He was a Magic man, just like me, albeit with a better mustache.
Barreiro also wrote a column after the Lakers won Game 1 of the series on a Sam Perkins 3-pointer and I dutifully cut it out of the paper and taped it in.
And then…and then the scrapbook ends. There’s no story from Game 2, nothing from Games 3 or 4 and certainly nothing from Game 5, when Jordan and the Bulls clinched the first of their six titles. No more Barreiro columns, so I don’t know if he disavowed his argument for Magic (I hope not, since I was still fighting it on the streets of Janesville). This scrapbook was proof I was a terrible loser when it came to the Lakers. I stopped in 1989 when they didn’t win a game in those Finals and I stopped two years later when they didn’t win a game after the opener. Twenty-two years later I remain convinced the Lakers would have won that series against Chicago if James Worthy hadn’t been severely hobbled by a sprained ankle or if they’d won Game 3 after holding a double-digit lead in the second half. Think of what I could have done with those clippings. Instead Chicago won four in a row and the scrapbook ends with an AP sidebar about Sam Perkins’ big shot. Five months later Magic retired and Showtime went away. The Lakers as I knew them from the time I was 5 were done. It only made sense for my shoddy scrapbook to meet the same fate.