Eric “Sleepy” Floyd had a pretty good NBA career. 13 years, averaging nearly 13 points and five assists per game. Pretty decent numbers right? A one-time All-Star whose game could be categorized as an exceptional open court player with herky-jerky moves that made him a tough guard for anyone. But then there was the flip side, the “Sleepy” side. Floyd had a reputation of drifting in games and giving the perception as if he didn’t care. Seeing him at his best left fans feeling empty when it seemed as if the switch was turned off.
In the opening round of the 1987 playoffs, Sleepy Floyd and the Golden State Warriors were matched up with the Los Angeles Lakers who at the time were one of, if not the best team of the decade. Magic Johnson and James Worthy were in the prime of their careers, while the Captain, Karrem Abdul-Jabbar, was still proving that there was gas still left in the tank. The Lakers also had the best defensive player in the league in Michael Cooper. On the other side of the court, Sleepy’s squad included Joe Barry Carroll, Larry Smith, Terry Teagle…you get the picture.
The Lakers were steamrolling through the series, jumping out to a 3-0 lead and poised to complete the sweep. The positive note for Golden State was that they were at least in their home arena which was considered (and still is) one the best home court advantages in the league. Despite the raucous crowd, the Lakers were conducting business as usual, holding a 15-point lead with one minute remaining in the third quarter (98-83). The Warriors spread the court. Guarded by Byron Scott, Floyd blows right by him and scoops in a lay-up in traffic, and one. On the very next possession he would beat Scott again off the dribble, but this time he was fouled and would go to the line to convert both free throws. This would essentially end the quarter and the Warriors still trailed the Lakers by 14 points. No big deal right? Absolutely wrong. What happened next is pure legend and is one the greatest quarters ever played in history.
The fourth quarter begins. Sleepy misses a running floater on his first shot attempt. He wouldn’t miss again for the entire quarter. Spin moves, scoop shots, running one-handers, you name it, Floyd was wide awake delivering what became a nightmare for the Lakers. He was Showtime, making 12 shots in a row, which remains an NBA record for most field goals made in a quarter. Sleepy was so hot that he single-handedly erased the 14-point deficit and gave the Warriors the lead. With 2:44 left in the quarter he broke the record for most points in one quarter in NBA playoff history, which at that time was 25. The record had just been set two days earlier by Isiah Thomas.
The Warriors won the game by a score of 129-121 and avoided being swept by the Lakers, who would close out the series in the fifth game and go on to win the 1987 NBA Championship. In addition to setting the record for most points in one quarter in playoff history with 29, and setting the record for most field goals made in one playoff quarter with 12, Sleepy set the record for most points in a playoff half with 39.
Sleepy Floyd scored 51 points in the game, making 18 out 26 shots from the field, including two out of three from three-point range, and 13 out 14 free throws. He also had 10 assists, three rebounds and four steals.