If the best start in Lakers' history isn't enough to throw some fear into the rest of the National Basketball Assn., maybe the rumor of Jerry West's comeback will.
You didn't think the Laker general manager and Hall of Famer was going to watch Magic Johnson break his team record for assists sitting down, did you?
"Jerry would like to come back and let me throw it to him a lot," Johnson said with a laugh after taking the No. 1 spot in career assists away from West in the Lakers' 147-130 win over the San Antonio Spurs Sunday night.
"Let him be the shooting guard and I'll throw it to him," Johnson said.
A delicious thought, but West will pass--pardon the pun--thank you. He's more than content to be overseeing a team that is now 6-0 after overwhelming the Spurs for the second time in five nights.
"We would be crazy if we weren't delighted with our start," West said. "But I do think we can play even better."
It's hard to imagine the Lakers improving much on their effort Sunday night, when all five starters scored 19 points or more--led by Magic's 25--and James Worthy came within 2 rebounds of the first triple-double of his NBA career.
Worthy scored 24 points on 10-of-12 shooting and made his last 8 shots. He also had 10 assists and 8 rebounds in 34 minutes.
"I don't think they're surprising anybody," said ex-Laker Frank Brickowski, whose welcome back to the Forum was punctuated by an elbow to the Adam's apple by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
"I'm expecting them to go all the way, and I hope they do. They're a great bunch of people."
Playing their third game in four nights, the Lakers could have been a tired bunch, too, but there was no sign of a letup. All 11 healthy players on the roster scored, with Kurt Rambis most notable of the bench jockeys with 15 points and 9 rebounds.
"You've got to credit Pat Riley," Brickowski said. "He knows what to do to get those guys up for a game.
"One of Pat's strong points is he makes every night a challenge, no matter who they're playing. There's an art to that, to motivate guys who've already done it all."
The Lakers' work was all but done in the third quarter, when they took a 19-point lead, 107-88, that would grow to 22 at 125-103 on Worthy's last basket of the night.
A.C. Green had 23 points and 13 rebounds, Abdul-Jabbar had 19 points and 3 blocked shots, and Byron Scott threw in 23 points.
The Lakers outrebounded San Antonio, 58-47, and scored at will inside.
And with less than 10 seconds to go in the half, Johnson set up Scott for a three-pointer from the corner for the 6,239th assist of his career, one more than West. He finished the night with 6,245.
The record was announced to the sellout crowd of 17,505, among whom West sat in his usual seat near midcourt.
"I was red-eyed when they announced it," West said, smiling.
West contended that totals today tend to be inflated, but that doesn't apply to Johnson.
"Most of his passes are for real," West said.
It was real nice, Johnson said, to pass a player of West's stature, but beyond that?
"It goes on," Johnson said. "We play again Tuesday."
This was the first time this season the Lakers have played back-to-back games, and four of their next five games are at home.
"We've had a favorable schedule," West said. "But it's a tribute to the team that Magic wasn't here the whole time (he missed most of the exhibition schedule with Achilles tendinitis)."
David Greenwood had 23 points to lead the Spurs.
"They just seemed to play flawless basketball," San Antonio Coach Bob Weiss said. "And if you stumble just a little, it seems they pick up 10 or 15 points in a row on you."
Abdul-Jabbar appeared to be picking on Brickowski when his elbow got caught in Brickowski's throat in the first quarter.
"I'm going to send films of that to the league," Brickowski joked. "(Referee) Jake O'Donnell saw it, everybody saw it, but they let him get away with it.
"I guess when I'm in the league 18 years, they'll let me get away with it, too."
Did Brickowski say anything to the Laker captain.
"Yeah," he said. "I told him, 'Watch out for my face.' "
Meanwhile, should West--who will be 50 next May--be watched for a comeback?
"In a couple more years," West said, "then I'm going to play in the 6-feet-and-under-league."