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On this date: Michael Cooper hits game-winning shot versus Jazz

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When one thinks about the Showtime Lakers of the 1980s, one will invariably think of Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and James Worthy.

Michael Cooper didn’t garner as many headlines or accolades as the aforementioned trio, but he was an invaluable member of arguably the greatest team in NBA history.

He was a great 3-point shooter, one of the greatest defenders ever, a secondary ball-handler, a great dunker in his younger days and a very tough and intense player who never backed down.

In Game 5 of the 1988 Western Conference semifinals versus the Utah Jazz, Cooper would be called upon to play a much more important role than usual.

The Lakers were facing the Utah Jazz, a team that featured a young Karl Malone and John Stockton. They loved to take the air out of the ball and turn Showtime into slowtime, and they had played L.A. to a standstill through the first four contests.

The Lakers tried to run away from Utah in Game 5, but they couldn’t put it away, and with 12 seconds left, they trailed 109-108.

Instead of going to Abdul-Jabbar, Johnson or Worthy, head coach Pat Riley would draw up a play for Cooper, who to that point was 0-of-3 from the field.

But Cooper hit a jumper with seven seconds remaining, giving L.A. the win and helping it take the series in seven.

The Lakers went on to defeat the Detroit Pistons in the NBA Finals to capture their fifth world championship in the past nine years, making them the team of the 1980s.

They couldn’t have done it without Cooper.

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