James Worthy

Category: Broadcasters, NBA
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Sports Speaker James Worthy is a former American professional basketball player and current NBA commentator and analyst. The three-time NBA champion has been voted as one of the top 50 NBA players of all time. His best performances are during clutch plays in games that are on the line. Thus, he is often referred to as “Big Game James.” The small forward began his basketball career at the University of North Carolina in 1979. At UNC, Worthy was on one of the most talented teams in collegiate history for the 1981-1982 season with the Hall of Fame coach Dean Smith, and basketball legends Michael Jordan and Sam Perkins. Worthy was the leading scorer of the team, with an average of 15.6 points per game. The legendary team won the 1982 NCAA National Championship against the Georgetown Hoyas. Worthy posted 28 points and thus, was named the 1982 NCAA Final Four Most Outstanding Player. Additionally, Worthy was named as an All-American and shared College Player of the Year honors with UVA’s Ralph Sampson. As a result of his collegiate success, UNC retired his jersey (#52), which is one of eight Tar Heels numbers retired.  

Worthy gave up his senior season at UNC to declare for the Draft in 1982. He was selected by the Lakers in the first round as the first overall pick.   In his first season as a professional basketball player, he was named to the NBA All-Rookie team. In the 1985 Western Conference Finals against the Denver Nuggets, Worthy became the record holder for the highest field goal percentage (.721) in five playoff games, and continues to hold the all-time record. Later that season, the Lakers beat the Boston Celtics to claim the 1985 NBA Finals title. Success followed the Lakers, as the team won a league-best 65 regular season games in 1987. In the post-season the Lakers defeated the Celtics in six games and won the Finals. The Los Angeles team continued to win in the following season, with 62 regular season victories, and the 1988 NBA Finals title, which it won against the Detroit Pistons in seven games. Worthy had a stellar performance in that series, with an average of 22 points, 7.4 rebounds and 4.4 assists. “Big Game James” had a triple-double (36 points, 16 rebounds, 10 assists) in game seven, which earned him the 1988 NBA Finals MVP. Worthy played with the Lakers for 12 years and retired in November 1994 as one of the league’s premier players.  In 1995 the Lakers retired his jersey (#42), which is one of nine jerseys retired by the franchise.  He was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2003.

After his career as a player, Worthy has worked in a variety of fields. He is the CEO of Worthy Enterprises. Also, the basketball star founded the James Worthy Foundation and continues to be very involved in philanthropy, as he is dedicated to the support of non-profit organizations, such as the Boys and Girls Club of America. Additionally, Worthy has played himself on an episode of Everybody Loves Raymond, and has portrayed the character Klingon Koral in an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. The seven-time NBA All-Star is currently a co-host of “Access SportsNet,” which holds the pregame and postgame shows for the Lakers. He is also a studio analyst for Time Warner Cable SportsNet and Time Warner Cable Deportes.

New Balance endorsed Worthy for one year in 1989 and the catchy slogan for the endorsement was “Trust Worthy.”