After a Tough First Shot, Boston Celtics Forward Scott Wedman Knew He’d Play a Big Role in the Memorial Day Massacre
Game 1 of the 1985 NBA Finals between the Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers fell on Memorial Day. The Lakers sought revenge after feeling they let a championship get away the previous year when the Celtics outlasted them in seven games for their second title of the decade. LA didn’t get off to such a great start in the series opener.
Playing in front of their home crowd, the Celtics dominated from the start. They led 38-24 after a quarter and held a more-than-comfortable 79-49 lead at halftime. Boston went on to win 148-114 in a game often referred to as the “Memorial Day Massacre.”
Reserve forward Scott Wedman finished with 26 points in 23 minutes. He knew he was in for a good game as soon as he let his first shot go.
The Boston Celtics were seeking a championship repeat in 1985
The Celtics were lucky to escape with a championship in 1984, and the Lakers were angry about it. LA dominated play early in the series, winning Game 1 in Boston. The Lakers appeared to be on their way to a Game 2 win as well. The Lakers held a two-point lead in the waning seconds and had the ball, but Gerald Henderson stole a James Worthy pass and converted it into a game-tying layup. The Celtics won in overtime.
Without Henderson’s steal, the Lakers likely would have been up 3-0 as the Lakers blew out the Celtics 136-111 in Game 3, the first one in LA. In Game 4, it took Kevin McHale’s infamous clotheslining of Kurt Rambis to ignite a fire under the Celtics, who rallied for another overtime victory to tie the series. Boston outlasted the Lakers in seven games.
“You can’t look at 1985 without looking at 1984,” Magic Johnson said to Sports Illustrated in 2015. “We all thought we should’ve won. It was the ultimate motivator.”
The Celtics got off to a tremendous start for a repeat with the convincing Memorial Day victory in the opener of the ’85 Finals. Wedman and McHale each had 26 points to lead the way.
The Celtics shot 60.8 percent from the floor and outrebounded the Lakers 48-35. It was complete domination in a game the Celtics hoped would be a tone-setter for the series.
After his first shot, Wedman knew he had the hot hand
Not only did Wedman tie McHale for the most points scored in Game 1, but he didn’t miss a shot. He went 11-for-11 from the floor, including 4-for-4 from three-point range. After his first shot, he had a feeling it was going to be a good game.
“As a professional basketball player, your performance on the court is partly a reflection of where you are emotionally and spiritually,” Wedman said, per Michael McClellan of Celtic Nation back in 2018. “It’s also directly impacted by your relationship with family and friends. All of those things were very positive for me when we played the Lakers that day. I was in a really good place mentally. I had good friends around me, and all of the elements were right for a strong performance.
“If I’d learned anything from the previous season, it was that I needed to be prepared to contribute when my number was called. I’d learned to cheer the team when I wasn’t playing and to keep myself in a very positive frame of mind. And that day there were no negative thoughts at all. My first shot didn’t feel good when I released it, but it went in, and I knew immediately that I was going to have a good game.”
Although Wedman had himself quite a game, the Lakers got the last laugh. As lopsided as the loss was, it was only one loss. They stole homecourt advantage by winning Game 2 in Boston and went on to win the series in six games, clinching the championship in Boston.
“That was our year,” Abdul-Jabbar said in a 2020 video put out by NBA History & Legends on CLNS. “We finally beat the Celtics. The Laker/Celtics thing was dead now because we went up there and whooped them in Boston Garden. We were the only team to win a championship in Boston Garden other than the Boston Celtics.
“They got to live with that forever. That’s awesome. That made my career. It was that good to me. I enjoyed 1985, and I’m still enjoying it.”