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1980–81 NBA season
League National Basketball Association
Sport Basketball
TV partner/s CBS, USA
Regular season
Season MVP Julius Erving (Philadelphia)
Top scorer Adrian Dantley (Utah)
Playoffs
Eastern champions Boston Celtics
Eastern runners-up Philadelphia 76ers
Western champions Houston Rockets
Western runners-up Kansas City Kings
Finals
Finals champions Boston Celtics
Runners-up Houston Rockets
Finals MVP Cedric Maxwell (Boston)

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.


Notable occurrences

  • The Dallas Mavericks become the league's 23rd franchise. As a result, the NBA realigns four of its teams to better reflect its geographical location (the Milwaukee Bucks and Chicago Bulls move to the Eastern Conference; 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.
  • As of March 2010, 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 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.

Final standings

Eastern Conference

Atlantic Division
Team W L PCT. GB
Boston Celtics C 62 20 .756 -
Philadelphia 76ers 62 20 .756 -
New York Knicks 50 32 .610 12
Washington Bullets 39 43 .476 23
New Jersey Nets 24 58 .293 38
Central Division
Team W L PCT. GB
Milwaukee Bucks 60 22 .732 -
Chicago Bulls 45 37 .549 15
Indiana Pacers 44 38 .537 16
Atlanta Hawks 31 51 .378 29
Cleveland Cavaliers 28 54 .341 32
Detroit Pistons 21 61 .256 39

Western Conference

Midwest Division
Team W L PCT. GB
San Antonio Spurs 52 30 .634 -
Houston Rockets 40 42 .488 12
Kansas City Kings 40 42 .488 12
Denver Nuggets 37 45 .451 15
Utah Jazz 28 54 .341 24
Dallas Mavericks 15 67 .183 37
Pacific Division
Team W L PCT. GB
Phoenix Suns 57 25 .695 -
Los Angeles Lakers 54 28 .659 3
Portland Trail Blazers 45 37 .549 12
Golden State Warriors 39 43 .476 18
San Diego Clippers 36 46 .439 21
Seattle SuperSonics 34 48 .415 23

C - NBA Champions

Statistics leaders

Category Player Team Stat
Points per game Adrian Dantley Utah Jazz 30.7
Rebounds per game Moses Malone Houston Rockets 14.8
Assists per game Kevin Porter Washington Bullets 9.1
Steals per game Magic Johnson Los Angeles Lakers 3.4
Blocks per game George Johnson San Antonio Spurs 3.4
FG% Artis Gilmore Chicago Bulls 67.0
FT% Calvin Murphy Houston Rockets 95.8
3FG% Brian Taylor San Diego Clippers 38.3

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 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)

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