- 2014-2015 SALARY
- Tarik Black
- Carlos Boozer
- Kobe Bryant
- Jordan Clarkson
- Ed Davis
- North Carolina
- Wayne Ellington
- North Carolina
- Jordan Hill
- Wesley Johnson
- Ryan Kelly
- Jeremy Lin
- Steve Nash
- Santa Clara
- Ronnie Price
- Utah Valley
- Julius Randle
- Robert Sacre
- Nick Young
Lakers History Til Today
Los Angeles basketball means superstars, championships, and Showtime. Lakers history til today is extraordinarily rich. Did you know that the Lakers basketball team wasn’t always from LA? Did you know that the first truly athletic big man in the NBA was a Laker? Did you know that Magic Johnson won his first championship not as the maestro of Showtime? For a time, the Toronto Raptors tried to emulate the Lakers’ style during the Vince Carter years. For years, Steve Nash made Canadian professional basketball proud as his teams played the Showtime style that Magic Johnson had introduced with the Lakers.
Lakers history til today began as the Minneapolis Lakers in 1947-48 in the fledgling National Basketball League. Beginning that year, the Lakers basketball team was the best team for seven seasons, winning three championships in three leagues, losing in 1950-51 and then winning three more consecutive championships.
The Lakers were led by George Mikan, the first dominant big man in professional basketball. Mikan was not tall or strong by today’s standards, but his athleticism was far beyond that of any other center in the league. He led the league in scoring several times. The Lakers became just another average team in 1954-55 after George Mikan was forced by chronic bad knees to retire.
The Lakers stayed in Minneapolis until the 1959-60 season. In 1958, they drafted a small forward, Elgin Baylor, who was a superstar from his first season. The team around Baylor was weak and didn’t challenge for a championship in his first two seasons. In 1960, facing financial hardship due to dwindling attendance in Minneapolis, the Lakers relocated to Los Angeles, becoming the league’s first West Coast team.
Beginning in the 1961-62 season, the Lakers reached the NBA finals six times losing each time to the Celtics. They had Elgin Baylor, already the best forward in the league, but the team finished the 1959-60 season with a 25-50 record. They drafted Jerry West, a shooting and playmaking guard from West Virginia. Elgin Baylor and Jerry West formed the core of the team that would come close to a championship many times.
In 1968, after losing to the Celtics again in the finals, the Lakers acquired Wilt Chamberlain from Philadelphia. Wilt Chamberlain was in the 1960’s what George Mikan had been in the 50’s: a dominating, powerful center, who could score seemingly at will. The Lakers were a very strong team despite their age and reached the finals against, of course, the Celtics and fell short once more.
Frustration then Greatness
The Lakers reached the finals the next season but lost again, this time to the New York Knicks. In the 1970-71 Western Conference finals, the Lakers lost to the Milwaukee Bucks, who were led by their own superstar center, Lew Alcindor who was to become Kareem Abdul Jabbar, a Laker, a league MVP, and the leader of several Lakers championship teams.
33 Straight Wins!
The Lakers were a blend of young and old players in the 1971-72 season. Elgin Baylor had retired, Jerry West and Wilt Chamberlain were deep into their 30’s but were still among the best at their positions. The team had young Gail Goodrich at guard and Jim McMillan and Happy Hairston at forward. The bench was also solid, with Pat Riley, Flynn Robinson, Jim Cleamons, Keith Erickson, and Leroy Ellis. Wilt Chamberlain subsumed his offensive talents into a more rounded team concept becoming a defensive force under the basket. Between November 5 and January 9, they won 33 games in a row, the longest winning streak in the history of professional team sports. They won 69 games that season and easily won the first championship in the Los Angeles chapter of the franchise’s history. Few realized that many championships would follow, that the intense rivalry with the Celtics would be renewed, and that two other great big men would be traded to the team and lead them to championships.
Age Catches the Lakers
Elgin Baylor, Jerry West, and Wilt Chamberlain retired and the Lakers fell from the heights. In 1975, the Lakers acquired Kareem Abdul Jabbar. Through the 1978-79 season, the Lakers played well but were never close to a championship.
In 1979 the Lakers drafted Magic Johnson. He was a sensational point guard who made the Lakers a running team featuring “Showtime”. Led by Magic Johnson, the Lakers won five NBA championships in the 1980’s twice defeating their old nemesis the Boston Celtics. Magic’s first championship was in his rookie season when he played center in place of the injured Kareem and led the Lakers to the championship. After winning in 1988-89, coach Pat Riley copyrighted the term “threepeat” indicating three straight championships but they failed to do so.
The Dry 90’s
The NBA in the 1990’s was dominated by other teams, the Detroit Pistons, Chicago Bulls, and Houston Rockets. Magic Johnson retired young after being diagnosed with HIV. The Lakers acquired Kobe Bryant, a sensational 17-year-old rookie and mammoth center Shaquille O’Neal but championships eluded them until Phil Jackson became their coach in 2000.
Phil Jackson was a smart bench player for the Knicks during their glory years. He went on to coach the Bulls to six NBA championships in the Michael Jordan era. In 1999, he became coach of the Lakers and led them to win three consecutive championships from 2000-2002.
Age, injuries, and internal strife resulted in seven lean years. Phil Jackson retired, then unretired, Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal continued their feud until Shaq was traded. Through it all, the Lakers won consecutive championships in 2009-2010.
Since then, the lean years have returned. This year Kobe Bryant is 38 years old and the team is less than good. But surely the Lakers star will rise again.
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