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The 25 NBA Players That Scored The Most Points in the 1980’s Golden Era

The 1980’s are hailed as the golden era of NBA basketball. Between the 1979-80 and 1988-89 NBA seasons, the NBA took a a huge leap forward in terms of popularity. Not only did the NBA marketing team play up the Magic Johnson-Larry Bird rivalry that personified the larger Boston Celtics-Los Angeles Lakers clashes during that decade but it was the decade when some of the best players in the history of the game were drafted in the 1980’s.

The list of drafted players include Bird and Magic, Isiah Thomas, Dominique Wilkins, Clyde Drexler (1982) Hakeem Olajuwon (1984), Michael Jordan (1984), Charles Barkley (1984), John Stockton (1984), Patrick Ewing (1985), Karl Malone (1985), and David Robinson (1988). They joined established stars in Dr. J, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Moses Malone and George Gervin.

The 20 NBA players with the most te...

Magic, Bird, Isiah, Dr. J and Moses Malone solidified their legacies with championships during those ten years, and Jordan, Olajuwon and Drexler, and David Robinson would go out to be primary players in every championship the following decade. The players that were drafted in the 1980’s also filled the roster of the legendary Dream Team of the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.

Who Scored The Most Points During the 1980s?

With all the big household NBA names that came up in the league during that decade, one would wager with vulkanbet 50 free spins code that they would dominate the list of players that scored the most points in between the bookends of the 1979-1980 and 1988-1989 seasons. put together a list of the 25 players that totaled the most points in the 1980’s (thanks Statmuse).

While we do see Bird and Magic,  Kareem and Moses, Dr. J and Isiah, there’s a lot more players that we mentioned above that surprisingly didn’t make the list and even more players that are on the list that are oft-forgotten, or in the case of a couple players, you may have never heard of before. We’ll talk about those players a little later, so here’s the list of the 25 NBA players with the biggest point totals in the 1980s.

NBA Players That Scored Most Points (1980-1989)
# NAME GP Points PPG
1 Alex English 811 21,018 25.9
2 Moses Malone 778 19,082 24.5
3 Adrian Dantley 684 18,157 26.5
4 Larry Bird 717 17,899 25
5 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar 787 16,246 20.6
6 Reggie Theus 787 14,729 18.7
7 Dominique Wilkins 559 14,557 26
8 Mark Aguirre 602 14,488 24.1
9 George Gervin 547 14,216 26
10 Mike Mitchell 679 14,161 20.9
11 Robert Parish 786 14,043 17.9
12 Magic Johnson 716 13,943 19.5
13 Kiki VanDeWeghe 605 13,775 22.8
14 Jack Sikma 795 13,342 16.8
15 Julius Erving 602 13,263 22
16 Walter Davis 687 13,106 19.1
17 Tom Chambers 634 12,896 20.3
18 Isiah Thomas 635 12,862 20.3
20 Purvis Short 685 12,740 18.6
21 World B. Free 583 12,662 21.7
22 Terry Cummings 550 12,159 22.1
23 Rolando Blackman 630 12,127 19.2
24 Bernard King 535 12,100 22.6
25 Dennis Johnson 783 11,954 15.3

Surprising Totals, Unexpected Players

The biggest surprise isn’t that Michael Jordan isn’t #1 on the list seeing as he was drafted in the middle of the decade (1984-85) and was injured a couple of those season, but it’s that MJ isn’t even in the top 25. Jordan barely missed the list; scoring 11,263 points in that decade.

So who was first? The unassuming, quiet, and severely underrated Alex English scored the most points in the 1980s and was the only player to surpass 20,000 points in that decade with 21,018 total points in that span. Though the top ten features players like Moses Malone (#2), Larry Bird (#4), and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (#5) in the top five, it also has forgotten scoring machines like Adrian Dantley (#3), Reggie Theus (#6), and Mark Aguirre (#8).

Maybe even the bigger surprise than Jordan being nowhere to be found was the presence of Mike Mitchell at #10. I’m not an NBA historian, but I pride myself on having a deep knowledge of the league during the 1980s and beyond. I’ve run across Mitchell’s name before (and can picture one of his basketball cards), but I wasn’t remotely aware of his scoring prowess during the 1980’s.

That doesn’t change the fact that Mitchell averaged over 20 points during that decade and scored over 14,000 points from 1980-88 which spanned Mitchell’s entire NBA career before he moved on to play professional in Italy. Unfortunately, Mitchell passed away from cancer at the age of 55.

To that end, I would have been extremely confident going into a quiz where the objective would be to have named every NBA player on the above list. I would have have guessed World B. Free, Purvis Short, Walter Davis, Kiki VanDeWeghe, Terry Cummings, and Jack Sikma’s names at some point, but I definitely would not have been able to place Mitchell.

So why do we forget about guys like Mitchell, Cummings, Short, Theus, English and World B. Free? Simply these players didn’t win enough. As evidenced by their scoring, these were talented players, but though individual numbers might get you on a couple all-star teams, how history views you is based on whether you won a championship or not.

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