- LA Lakers
- August 15, 2018
The Los Angeles Lakers are an American professional basketball team based in Los Angeles, California. They compete in the National Basketball Association (NBA) in the league’s Western Conference of the Pacific Division. The franchise was founded in 1946 as the Detroit Gems, but after moving to Minnesota in 1947, the name was changed to Minnesota Lakers, after the state’s nickname “Land of ten thousand lakes”. The Lakers would later move to Los Angeles, hence their current name. The L.A. Lakers are one of the most successful franchises in the entirety of American sports. They won sixteen NBA championships, the second-most in NBA’s history.
Before the founding of the NBA, the Lakers played and enjoyed success in two other leagues. They won the National Basketball League championship of 1948 and go on to win the next five out of six Basketball Association of America championships. The star George Mikan was the key player that made many of those victories possible. The team started having financial struggles after his retirement in 1956 and relocated to Los Angeles for the 1960-1961 season.
The match that lit the fire
The Lakers played six NBA finals during the 1960s, and despite legends Elgin Baylor and Jerry West being part of the team, they lost all of them to the Boston Celtics. This was the spark that would create one of the longest and most popular rivalries in sports history, with Jerry West later becoming Lakers’ general manager and putting together multiple championship rosters.
The Los Angeles Lakers won their first NBA championship during the 1971-1972 season with the help of four-time NBA MVP Wilt Chamberlain, setting new records for longest winning streak and best regular season. This was also the first championship won by the Lakers after moving to Los Angeles.
More than magic
After reaching the finals again in the season of 1972-1973 and losing to the New York Knicks, Chamberlain retired and the Lakers entered the first play-offs drought in the history of the franchise from 1974 to 1976. Just three years later in 1979, the L.A. Lakers add one of the greatest players of all times to the roster, Magic Johnson, in the first overall pick of the NBA draft. This was the start of the most dominant period in the history of the Lakers franchise. Over the following decade, Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and James Worthy took the Lakers into eight NBA finals and won five NBA championships. Due to the spectacular fast break-offense style of play led by Magic Johnson and the attendance of Hollywood stars to the games, this era of the Lakers became known as “Showtime”. The rivalry between the L.A. Lakers the Boston Celtics was once again at an all-time high after fighting for the NBA title in 1984, 1985 and 1987. Lakers’ Magic Johnson and Larry Bird from Boston facing off boosted the popularity of the NBA to new heights.
Change of seasons
After the retirement of Johnson and Abdul-Jabbar at the end of the 1980s, the Los Angeles Lakers stopped reaching the NBA finals. The team very rarely missed the playoffs, but they were not able to recreate the magical and effective play style of the past.
Before the 1999-2000 season, the Lakers hired Phil Jackson as the new head coach. Under his guidance, Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant would take three consecutive titles for the Lakers. After O’Neal was traded away in 2004, the team was restructured around Kobe. The strategy showed success when the Lakers advanced into the 2008 NBA finals, which they lost to their long-time rivals, the Boston Celtics in six games. They would almost perfect their play in the following season, again facing Celtics in the finals and winning in a heart-pumping seven-game series.
That was the last spark of glory for the team, with injuries, bad luck, and overall inconsistency defining the recent past of the L.A. Lakers. Since then, they set a few negative records, hitting a franchise-worst 17-65 in 2015-2016 and a four-season playoff drought.
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