INGLEWOOD, CALIF., JUNE 15 -- Given the fact that in the NBA, as in life, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, now that the Los Angeles Lakers have dethroned the Boston Celtics as league champions, has the idea of twin towers become defunct? Should we expect 22 teams to attempt to find the perfect combination of savvy and athletic ability, a la Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar?

Probably not, given another fact -- those two men are unique and anything short of cloning is likely to pale in comparison.

"You have to give a lot of the credit {for the championship} to Magic," said Abdul-Jabbar, who at age 40 scored 32 points in 29 minutes of the Lakers' 106-93 title-clinching Game 6 victory Sunday. "He accepted his role this year as a team leader and played with enough intensity at times for the other four guys on the floor."

"The fourth quarter, it was tremendous, the showing by The Cap {Abdul-Jabbar}," said Johnson. "It showed he still has it -- when the game's on the line, he's still the best."

The two superstars, along with excellent support from the likes of James Worthy, Michael Cooper and Mychal Thompson, perhaps put to rest the idea that a team can rely on a single factor and expect to come away a winner. The Celtics won in 1986, and although their massive front line of Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish with Bill Walton in reserve was a major ingredient, the team also was perhaps the smartest in the league.

This season, the Atlanta Hawks also featured a great deal of height and an enormous amount of athletic abilty, but they lacked the heady play to win. The same applies to the Detroit Pistons, who should have been the Eastern Conference representative in the finals but brainlocked against Boston.

"There's just so much involved," said Los Angeles Coach Pat Riley. "The game in the '80s is both patterns and spontaneity; you need both to win. Before coaches used to say, 'It's my way or the highway.' You can't do that now because today's athlete has changed."

The Lakers, more so than any other team in the NBA, have been aware of that. The Hollywood trappings that surround them are in a sense just a front for what has been an efficient operation for the past seven years. But after they were eliminated by the Houston Rockets last season from the Western Conference finals, the Lakers came close to becoming just one of the crowd.

That was last June, when the team agonized over a proposed trade with the Dallas Mavericks: Worthy for forwards Mark Aguirre and rookie Roy Tarpley. The deal was never made because General Manager Jerry West threatened to resign if it was.

"We would have liked to have gone with the double big men, too, but in the end we didn't think anyone could come in and make us better," said Riley. "And we weren't gonna break down our franchise just to do it. Instead, we decided to go back and play our game, within our philosophy. We made a commitment to do that, not worry about what other people had but rather what we had."

It is likely that if 21 of the other 22 NBA teams were to attempt to emulate the Lakers, the lone exception would be Boston. The Celtics' lack of overall quickness was exposed against the Lakers but the team's nucleus is Bird and McHale and, although they might be slower than many, they're definitely better than most.

"We've got some guys in their 30s," said Boston assistant coach Jimmy Rodgers, "but they're still capable of playing the game at a high level."

That's not to say that changes won't be made, perhaps beginning with Rodgers, who has been wooed for assorted coaching and general managing jobs for the last three or four years. On the court, there is no guarantee that either Walton or forward Scott Wedman -- both 34 -- will be able to come back from the injuries that virtually wiped out their 1986-87 seasons.

"They {the Celtics' management} have got to make some changes," said Bird. "It might be hard with the salary cap; you don't know, they might not be able to do that, but we know what we need and Red {Auerbach, Celtics president} knows what we need -- I'm sure he's going to be in on that and try to get us a couple more horses in here."

It seems that despite a team's advantage on the league, it takes some sort of acquisition to put it over the top. As good as the Celtics were in 1985 -- losing to the Lakers in the finals -- they probably wouldn't have won the following year without Walton. The same might be said of this season's Lakers team and the trade it made -- getting Thompson in February from the San Antonio Spurs for reserves Petur Gudmundsson and Frank Brickowski, cash and a pair of draft choices.

The first, a first-round pick in Monday's draft, would be wasted on the Lakers, given their present talent. The other pick is a second-round choice next year. In exchange for that, Los Angeles came up with Thompson, the No. 1 selection overall in the 1978 draft.

In the finals, the 6-foot-10 center/forward averaged 56 percent from the field and 11 points and five rebounds a game. In the last three games of the series, those numbers were raised to 16 points and seven rebounds.

"They made the changes and we didn't," said Bird. "They come up with Mychal Thompson, and the Celtics couldn't do anything." CAPTION:Los Angeles Coach Pat Riley is caught in a locker room champagne shower after the Lakers beat Boston,106-93,Sunday to win the NBA championship.