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James and Wade Know Greats Need Help

AP Photo

King-maker Pat Riley tells a story about needing help. Seems that Magic Johnson, ultimate winner, was so short-circuited toward the end of games even with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s assistance that he didn’t want to so much as think. The mental drain of carrying a team against waves of impassioned aggressors, and making all the important decisions, left him fried as the last seconds approached.

Magic wanted to do so little thinking in that weary physical and mental state — “scrambled,” to use Riley’s word — that he eventually asked his coach to please just hold up easy signs to convey every play he wanted run in the last few minutes. Magic Johnson, leader, floor general, champion, wanted to follow executive orders then, finding a...

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