After 16 NBA Championships and 31 Western Conference Titles, the Lakers have been one of the most storied and successful franchises in NBA history. From the eras of West, Chamberlain, Kareem, Magic, and Kobe, there have been countless record-breaking performances and memorable games that have added to Lakers glory. Let’s take a look back at some notable moments for the purple and gold, from the week of June 1-7, over their 66-year history.
June 2, 1985
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar surpassed Jerry West (4,457 points) to become the NBA’s all-time leading scorer in playoff history after scoring 26 points in a 136-111 rout of the Celtics in Game 3 of the NBA Finals. The Lakers went on to win the series and the title in six games. Abdul-Jabbar finished his career with 5,762 points in the playoffs. Michael Jordan eventually passed Abdul-Jabbar in 1998 for most playoff points in NBA history with 5,987 in his career.
June 3, 1984
Magic Johnson set an NBA Finals record that still stands when he dished out 21 assists in a 137-104 victory over the Boston Celtics in Game 3 of the championship series. The Lakers eventually fell to the Celtics in seven games.
June 4, 1987
The Lakers set a then-Finals record when they shot 61.5% from the field during a 141-122 win over the Celtics in Game 2 of the NBA Finals. In the same game, Michael Cooper also set a then-Finals record by sinking six three-pointers. Currently, both records rank second-best in NBA Finals history.
June 7, 2000
Shaquille O’Neal scored 43 points and collected 19 rebounds in Game 1 of the NBA Finals, in which the Lakers defeated the Indiana Pacers 104-87. O’Neal connected for his 43 points on 21 field goals, which was one short of the NBA Finals record of 22, held by both Elgin Baylor and Rick Barry. O’Neal became one of only five players in NBA history (Baylor, Barry, Jerry West, and Michael Jordan) to convert at least 21 field goal attempts in a Finals game.
After 16 NBA Championships and 31 Western Conference Titles, the Lakers have been one of the most storied and successful franchises in NBA history. From the eras of West, Chamberlain, Kareem, Magic, and Kobe, there have been countless record-breaking performances and memorable games that have added to Lakers glory. Let’s take a look back at some notable moments for the purple and gold, from the week of April 13-19, over their 66-year history.
April 13, 1949
George Mikan led the Lakers to their first-ever NBA Championship, as they defeated the Syracuse Nationals in six games to claim the title.
April 14, 1962
Elgin Baylor set an NBA Finals record with 61 points when the Lakers defeated the Celtics 126-121 in Game 5 at the Boston Garden. Baylor recorded 11 straight 30-point plus scoring performances for Los Angeles in the playoffs, setting an NBA record. Despite Baylor’s heroic efforts, the Lakers eventually fell to the Celtics in seven games.
April 14, 1976
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar won his fourth NBA MVP award following a season in which he averaged 27.7 points per game. Abdul-Jabbar led the NBA in rebounds per game with 16.9 and blocks per game with 4.1. He finished his illustrious NBA career with six total MVP awards, which is the most by any player in NBA history.
April 14, 2004
Kobe Bryant hit a 3-pointer buzzer-beater in double overtime to give the Lakers a 105-104 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers on the final day of the regular season. More importantly, the win clinched the Pacific Division title for the Lakers, and gave them the second seed in the Western Conference in the playoffs. Bryant, who finished with 37 points and eight rebounds, also hit a game-tying 3-pointer at the end of the fourth quarter to send the game to overtime.
April 15, 1991
Magic Johnson became the NBA’s all-time assists leader after dishing out 19 assists in a 112-106 Lakers’ win over the Dallas Mavericks at the Great Western Forum. He surpassed Oscar Robertson with 9,898 assists to claim the top spot. Johnson finished his career with 10,141 assists, which currently ranks fifth on the NBA all-time list.
April 17, 1966
Jerry West led the Lakers to a 133-129 come-from-behind victory against the Boston Celtics in Game 1 of the 1966 NBA Finals. West scored 41 points, as Los Angeles erased a 34-20 deficit at the end of the first quarter, which is the largest first quarter deficit ever overcome in the NBA Finals. The Celtics eventually won the series in seven games.
After 16 NBA Championships and 31 Western Conference Titles, the Lakers have been one of the most storied and successful franchises in NBA history. From the eras of West, Chamberlain, Kareem, Magic, and Kobe, there have been countless record-breaking performances and memorable games that have added to Lakers glory. Let’s take a look back at some notable moments for the purple and gold, from the week of March 23-29, over their 66-year history.
March 23, 1999
Dick Enroth, the original radio voice of the Minneapolis Lakers, died from cancer at the age of 80. Enroth was the Lakers’ radio play-by-play voice from 1947-1959, during which the team won four NBA championships. He was known as the “fastest-talking sportscaster in the Twin Cities” during his tenure with the Lakers.
March 24, 1970
Jerry West won the NBA scoring title after leading the Lakers with 2,309 points in 74 regular season games. This was the first and only time in West’s illustrious career that he won the scoring title. West averaged 31.2 points per game during the 1969-70 season.
March 26, 1972
The Lakers ended the 1971-72 regular season with the best record in NBA history after defeating Seattle 124-98. Los Angeles finished with a 69-13 record and a .841 winning percentage. Their record would hold as the best in NBA history until the 1995-96 season, when the Chicago Bulls finished the regular season with a 72-10 record and a .878 winning percentage.
March 27, 1994
Magic Johnson made his head coaching debut with the Lakers when they defeated Milwaukee 110-101 at The Forum. Los Angeles went 5-11 during Johnson’s 16 games as head coach.
March 28, 1973
Wilt Chamberlain finished his career with a then-NBA record of 1,045 consecutive games without disqualification. Chamberlain did not foul out of any games over the course of his 14 NBA seasons. His consecutive games without disqualification streak ended when Moses Malone broke the record with 1,212 straight games without fouling out.
March 28, 1982
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar played in his 1,000th regular season game, when the Lakers beat the Kings 109-96 in Kansas City. Abdul-Jabbar became just the 15th player in NBA history at the time to do so.
March 29, 1952
George Mikan set a then-NBA playoff record for points when he scored 47 against the Rochester Royals in Game One of the Western Division Finals. Despite Mikan’s efforts, the Lakers lost the game 88-78.
March 29, 1962
Elgin Baylor and Jerry West became the first set of NBA teammates to each score 40 or more points in a playoff game. Baylor scored 45 and West contributed 41, but the Lakers lost a heartbreaker to Detroit in the Western Division Finals, 118-117.
After 16 NBA Championships and 31 Western Conference Titles, the Lakers have been one of the most storied and successful franchises in NBA history. From the eras of West, Chamberlain, Kareem, Magic, and Kobe, there have been countless record-breaking performances and memorable games that have added to Lakers glory. Let’s take a look back at some notable moments for the purple and gold, from the week of February 16-22, over their 66-year history.
February 16, 1972
Wilt Chamberlain scored his 30,000th point in a 110-109 loss to the Phoenix Suns. He became the first NBA player in history to reach this plateau. Chamberlain finished his playing career in 1973 as the NBA’s all-time leading scorer with 31,419 points. Chamberlain has since been passed on the all-time scoring list and currently sits in fifth place.
February 16, 1992
Magic Johnson’s number 32 was retired during the halftime ceremony of a Lakers-Celtics game at the Great Western Forum in Los Angeles. Johnson joined Jerry West, Elgin Baylor, Wilt Chamberlain, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the only players in Lakers’ history at the time to have their jerseys retired. Johnson and the other greats have since been joined by James Worthy, Gail Goodrich, Jamaal Wilkes, and Shaquille O’Neal.
February 17, 2004
Kobe Bryant scored a tie-breaking layup with 31.8 seconds left in regulation to lift the Lakers over the Portland Trailblazers 89-86 in Los Angeles. Bryant finished with a game-high 31 points, including his team’s last five. He also added eight rebounds and 10 assists, just falling short of a triple-double. Shaquille O’Neal added 21 points and 11 rebounds for the Lakers in the win.
February 22, 2002
Kobe Bryant hit a game-winning jump shot over George Lynch, as the Lakers defeated the Charlotte Hornets 96-94 in North Carolina. Bryant finished the game with 21 points and nine rebounds, while Shaquille O’Neal led Los Angeles with 31 points.
After 16 NBA Championships and 31 Western Conference Titles, the Lakers have been one of the most storied and successful franchises in NBA history. From the eras of West, Chamberlain, Kareem, Magic, and Kobe, there have been countless record-breaking performances and memorable games that have added to Lakers glory. Let’s take a look back at some notable moments for the purple and gold, from the week of January 19-25, over their 66-year history.
January 19, 1998
Legendary Lakers broadcaster Chick Hearn broadcasted his 3,000th consecutive game, as the Lakers bested the Orlando Magic 92-89 in Los Angeles. His unprecedented streak ended on December 16, 2001 at 3,338 games. Hearn was the voice of the Lakers from 1961 until the end of the 2002 season.
January 20, 1952
George Mikan scored a career-high 61 points to lead the Minneapolis Lakers over the Rochester Royals 91-81 in double overtime. Mikan is known as the NBA’s first superstar, as he was a five-time BAA/NBA champion, four-time NBA All-Star, six-time All-BAA/NBA First Team honoree, and three-time NBA scoring champion.
January 22, 2006
Kobe Bryant had the best scoring performance of his career, as he dropped 81 points against the Toronto Raptors in a 122-104 Lakers win at the Staples Center. Bryant recorded the second highest single-game point total in NBA history with his 81 points, behind Wilt Chamberlain’s 100 points for the Philadelphia 76ers in 1962. Kobe scored 55 points in the second half alone, and finished the game having shot 28 for 46 from the floor, while going 7 for 13 from beyond the arc and 18 for 20 from the charity stripe. With his 81 points, Bryant set a Lakers franchise record for points in a single game, surpassing Elgin Baylor’s 71 points against the Knicks in 1960.
January 23, 1959
Elgin Baylor won the MVP award at the ninth ever NBA All-Star Game, held in Detroit. Baylor shared the award with Bob Pettit of the St. Louis Hawks, as they collectively led the West team to a 124-108 victory over the East squad. Baylor scored 24 points and collected 11 rebounds, while Pettit had 25 and 16, respectively.
January 24, 1990
Pat Riley recorded his 500th career NBA victory, as his Lakers defeated the Pacers 120-111 in Indiana. As the 13th head coach in NBA history to achieve this milestone, Riley reached the 500-win mark faster than any other coach had done previously. Riley reached 500 wins in his 684th game as a head coach, surpassing Don Nelson, who reached 500 wins in 817 games.
January 25, 1998
At just 19 years old, Kobe Bryant was announced as a member of the 1998 NBA All-Star team. In his first ever All-Star Game, Bryant became the youngest All-Star Game starter in NBA history. When the game was played in February, he scored a team-high 18 points and grabbed six rebounds for the Western Conference squad at Madison Square Garden.
After 16 NBA Championships and 31 Western Conference Titles, the Lakers have been one of the most storied and successful franchises in NBA history. From the eras of West, Chamberlain, Kareem, Magic, and Kobe, there have been countless record-breaking performances and memorable games that have added to Lakers glory. Let’s take a look back at some notable moments for the purple and gold, from the week of January 12-18, over their 66-year history.
January 12, 2006
Kobe Bryant hit a game-winning jump shot over LeBron James with 8.6 seconds left in regulation to lift the Lakers to a 99-98 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers at the Staples Center. Despite a sore right wrist, Bryant scored the final six points down the stretch for Los Angeles and finished with a team-high 27 points in the win. Lamar Odom chipped in with 20 points, while Smush Parker added 12.
January 14, 2008
On a night without star center Andrew Bynum, Kobe Bryant picked up the slack for the Lakers, as he hit a game-winning jump shot with 4.3 seconds left in overtime to propel Los Angeles over the Seattle SuperSonics 123-121 in Seattle. Bryant scored a season-best and game-high 48 points, marking his 87th career 40-point game, which put him one behind former Laker Elgin Baylor for third all-time in NBA history. This game marked the seventh straight win for the Lakers, which was their longest winning streak since March 2004.
January 17, 1968
The Lakers won their first game at the Great Western Forum, otherwise known as Mecca West. Jerry West led the scoring attack for Los Angeles as he dropped 39 points in a 125-116 victory over Wilt Chamberlain’s Philadelphia 76ers. Gail Goodrich added 29 points, while Elgin Baylor contributed 18 in the win. The Forum was home to six Lakers NBA championships from 1967-1999.
January 17, 1994
As a result of the damages caused by the 6.7 magnitude Northridge earthquake in the San Fernando Valley region of Los Angeles, the Great Western Forum was closed. Thus, a game between the Lakers and Sacramento Kings at the Forum was postponed. The Clippers were also forced to postpone two of their home games. The Northridge earthquake, which killed 60 people and injured more than 7,000, is one of the worst earthquakes to ever hit southern California.
January 18, 1960
The Minneapolis Lakers survived a plane crash during a treacherous blizzard that forced an emergency landing in a small field in Carroll, Iowa. The crash came as a result of an electrical failure within the plane. Unbelievably, the team avoided potential disaster as no one was hurt. In 2010, to honor the 50th anniversary of the miracle that took place in Carroll, Iowa, the Lakers donated $25,000 towards the building of an outdoor basketball court on the very spot the plane landed.
January 18, 1972
Jerry West of the Los Angeles Lakers hit a 20-foot buzzer-beater to lift the Western Conference All-Stars over the Eastern Conference team in front of his hometown crowd at the Great Western Forum. West scored 13 points in 27 minutes of action, en route to being named All-Star Game MVP.
After 16 NBA Championships and 31 Western Conference Titles, the Lakers have been one of the most storied and successful franchises in NBA history. From the eras of West, Chamberlain, Kareem, Magic, and Kobe, there have been countless record-breaking performances and memorable games that have added to Lakers glory. Let’s take a look back at some notable moments for the purple and gold, from the week of January 5-11, over their 66-year history.
January 7, 1972
The Lakers won their NBA record 33rd straight game by defeating the Atlanta Hawks 134-90 in Atlanta. The team went a combined 30-0 during the months of November and December. Over the course of the streak, Los Angeles was led by Jerry West, Wilt Chamberlain, Elgin Baylor, Pat Riley, Gail Goodrich, and Jim McMillian. The Lakers finished the 1972 regular season with a then-all-time best NBA record of 69-13, which was later eclipsed by the 1995-96 Bulls. This record-breaking season culminated in the franchise’s first NBA Championship since moving from Minneapolis to Los Angeles in 1960. The Lakers still hold the longest winning streak by any team in the history of American professional sports.
January 7, 1998
Shaquille O’Neal blocked three shots in a 114-102 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks to adjust his career mark to 1,002. Shaq also scored 38 points and grabbed nine rebounds in the win. O’Neal finished his career in 2011 with 2,732 career blocked shots, which currently ranks seventh on the NBA all-time list.
January 8, 1997
In honor of the 50th anniversary of the first NBA season, commissioner David Stern announced the list of the Top Ten Teams in NBA History. The Lakers appeared on the list twice, with the 1971-72 and 1986-87 teams being featured. Also making the cut were the 1964-65 and 1985-86 Celtics, 1966-67 and 1982-83 76ers, 1969-70 Knicks, 1988-89 Pistons, and 1991-92 and 1995-96 Bulls.
January 9, 1972
The Milwaukee Bucks snapped the Lakers’ unprecedented 33-game winning streak with a 120-104 win in Milwaukee. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar dominated the Lakers as he led Milwaukee with 39 points, 20 rebounds, and 10 blocked shots against his future team.
January 10, 1986
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar scored his 34,000th career NBA point, a mark that has only ever been surpassed by Karl Malone, in a 124-102 victory against the Indiana Pacers at the Forum. Abdul-Jabbar entered the game needing 14 points to reach the plateau, and finished with 31 points to bring his career total to 34,017. This game marked the sixth time during the 1985-86 season that Abdul-Jabbar scored at least 30 points, and the 22nd time that he scored more than 20. Abdul-Jabbar finished his career in 1989 with 38,387 total points, good enough for first all-time among NBA players.
After 16 NBA Championships and 31 Western Conference Titles, the Lakers have been one of the most storied and successful franchises in NBA history. From the eras of West, Chamberlain, Kareem, Magic, and Kobe, there have been countless record-breaking performances and memorable games that have added to Lakers glory. Let’s take a look back at some notable moments for the purple and gold, from the week of December 29-January 4, over their 66-year history.
December 30, 1971
The Lakers finished the month of December with a perfect 16-0 record after defeating the Seattle SuperSonics 122-106 in Seattle. With the victory, Los Angeles posted the best monthly record in NBA history, as well as their second straight undefeated month, in the midst of their eventual NBA record 33-game winning streak. Jim McMillian scored 34 points, while Jerry West contributed 28 in the win.
December 31, 1954
The then-Minneapolis Lakers and the Fort Wayne Pistons attempted a combined 127 free throws, which still holds as the NBA record for the most-ever attempts in a regulation game. Minneapolis won the game 103-91, as six different Lakers (Lovellette, Schnittker, M’Kelsen, Kalafat, Martin, and Skoog) scored in double-figures.
December 31, 2010
Kobe Bryant hit a go-ahead jump shot with 1:15 left in the game to lift the Lakers over the Philadelphia 76ers 102-98 at the Staples Center. With the win, Los Angeles avoided its first three-game home losing streak since March 2008. Bryant finished with 33 points, including two clutch free-throws with 1.9 seconds left in the game. Pau Gasol added 20 points and eight rebounds in the win.
January 1, 1967
The Lakers defeated the Boston Celtics 111-110 on New Year’s Day. Jerry West and Elgin Baylor provided the spark for the then-struggling Lakers over the first place Celtics, scoring 35 and 30 points respectively.
January 2, 2005
Los Angeles beat the Denver Nuggets 99-91 at the Staples Center in their first game of 2005. Kobe Bryant led the scoring charge for the Lakers with 42 points, as he went 14-29 from the field in the win. This game marked the third consecutive contest during which Bryant scored at least 40 points. Despite Denver cutting the deficit to two points with under 2:30 left in the fourth quarter, Bryant scored the Lakers’ following eight points to lift them to victory.
Since 1949, the Lakers have played on Christmas Day 39 times, with a 21-18 record over that stretch. The Lakers playing on Christmas Day has been a staple within the NBA over the years. This Christmas will mark the 15th straight year that the Lakers have been in action on Christmas Day. With a win against the Miami Heat at the Staples Center, the Lakers would tie the New York Knicks for the most Christmas Day victories (22) in NBA history. Let’s take a look back at some notable Christmas Day moments for the purple and gold over their 66-year history.
December 25, 1949
The Lakers played their first ever Christmas Day game when they hosted and defeated the Ft. Wayne Pistons 72-58 in Minneapolis. This season marked the Lakers’ second season in the NBA, during which they would win the franchise’s first NBA title.
December 25, 1963
The Lakers beat the Knicks 134-126 at Madison Square Garden in their first ever Christmas Day meeting with New York. Los Angeles was led by Jerry West and Elgin Baylor, who dropped 47 and 27 points, respectively. It would take 49 more years for the Lakers and Knicks to meet again on Christmas Day.
December 25, 1999
Shaquille O’Neal scored 32 points and collected 11 rebounds to lead the Lakers to a victory in their first Christmas Day game since 1996. Los Angeles defeated the defending NBA Champion San Antonio Spurs 99-93 in the first ever Christmas Day game at the Staples Center. Glen Rice added 25 points for the Lakers, while Kobe Bryant chipped in with 18.
December 25, 2001
In this rematch of the 2001 NBA Finals, the Lakers rallied from a 13-point deficit to defeat the Philadelphia 76ers 88-82 at the Staples Center. With Kobe Bryant struggling from the field and Shaquille O’Neal out with an injury, Los Angeles was led by an unlikely hero, Samaki Walker, who scored a season-high 18 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. Allen Iverson dropped 31 points in the loss.
December 25, 2007
After five straight Christmas Day losses, the Lakers defeated the Phoenix Suns 122-115 at the Staples Center. Andrew Bynum scored a then-career-high 28 points and collected 12 rebounds. Kobe Bryant led Los Angeles in scoring with 38 points on the day, while shooting 60% from the field. Bryant surpassed Tom Chambers to move into 30th place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list with his 31st point of the game.
December 28, 2008
The Lakers snapped Boston’s 19-game winning streak, while also avenging their NBA Finals loss from six months before, when they defeated the Celtics 92-83 on Christmas Day at the Staples Center. With the victory, Phil Jackson recorded his 1,000th career win as an NBA head coach, a plateau he reached faster than any other coach in NBA history. Kobe Bryant paced the Lakers with 27 points, while Pau Gasol added 20. This Laker victory sent the then-surging Celtics into a 2-6 slide over their next eight games and helped solidify Los Angeles’ position at the top of the NBA standings.
December 25, 2012
Kobe Bryant set an NBA record when he played in his 15th consecutive Christmas Day game. Bryant broke his own record of 14 straight Christmas Day games, which he set the year before, and further surpassed the previous record of 13 held by Earl Monroe, Shaquille O’Neal, and Dolph Schayes. The Lakers defeated the New York Knicks 100-94 behind Bryant’s 34 points at the Staples Center. On this day, Bryant also eclipsed Oscar Robertson as the NBA’s all-time leading Christmas Day scorer with 383 points.
After 16 NBA Championships and 31 Western Conference Titles, the Lakers have been one of the most storied and successful franchises in NBA history. From the eras of West, Chamberlain, Kareem, Magic, and Kobe, there have been countless record-breaking performances and memorable games that have added to Lakers glory. Let’s take a look back at some notable moments for the purple and gold, from the week of December 8-14, over their 66-year history.
December 8, 2000
Shaquille O’Neal broke a 40-year-old NBA record, previously held by Wilt Chamberlain, when he went 0 for 11 from the free throw line in a loss to the Seattle SuperSonics. Chamberlain previously set the record when he went 0 for 10 from the charity stripe against the Detroit Pistons on November 4, 1960.
December 10, 1995
James Worthy’s No. 42 jersey was retired at halftime against the Detroit Pistons at the Great Western Forum. He became just the sixth player in Lakers’ history to enjoy this honor. The three-time NBA champion played all 12 of his NBA seasons with the Lakers, while averaging 17.6 points per game during his career. Worthy was a seven-time NBA All-Star and the 1988 NBA Finals MVP.
December 12, 1971
The Lakers won their 21st straight game, when they beat the Atlanta Hawks 104-95 at the Great Western Forum, setting a new NBA record for most consecutive wins. The previous record of 20 straight wins was held by both the Washington Capitols and Milwaukee Bucks. The Lakers’ unprecedented streak continued for twelve more games, as they set an NBA record for most consecutive victories at 33, which still holds today.
December 12, 1984
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar became the first player in NBA history to exceed 32,000 career points, when he dropped 15 points in a 131-107 Lakers win over the Golden State Warriors.
December 14, 1962
Elgin Baylor totaled 50 points for the Lakers, while Wilt Chamberlain scored 63 points for the San Francisco Warriors, in a 120-118 Lakers victory. This was one of only three times in NBA history that two players from opposing teams had scored at least 50 points in the same contest.
December 14, 1975
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar set an NBA record with 29 defensive rebounds, when the Lakers defeated the Detroit Pistons 110-100. Abdul-Jabbar shares the record for most consecutive seasons (2) leading the league in defensive rebounds, when he set the standard in both the 1975-76 and 1976-77 seasons. “Cap” also set the record for most defensive rebounds in a single season during the 1975-76 campaign, with 1,111.
The Lakers have “lost” superstars before, right? Usually it has happened after they have given so much to the Lakers organization. What I mean by that is all-star appearances, rookie of the year awards, a couple of championships here or there, and maybe even a few years of coaching. Never have they “lost” a superstar during free agency the way they did a few nights ago. The franchise is in a state of disarray.
That’s looking at it from one side of the spectrum. The side I choose to look from is very different.
Dwight Howard never fit in as a Los Angeles Laker. Not from the moment he was traded to the organization, to the Adidas “All In for L.A. commercials”, to when he announced on Twitter that he was going to become a Houston Rocket. His interviews seemed forced, his 1,000 watt smile was never as powerful and commanding as it was in Orlando, and it always seemed that he was making light of whatever situation he was in. Very different from what the Lakers have been used to since the Big Aristotle or Cactus, Superman or… you get it, left town.
In late January when the team was in a rut there were reports about how the Lakers had a team meeting in Memphis where everything was aired out so they could all move past their difficulties. That’s not what really happened according to Wojnarowski.
Every time you trash me to teammates, it gets back to me, witnesses said Bryant told Howard in the visiting locker room of the FedEx Forum. Every time you do one of your impersonations when I walk out of the room, I find out. Everything tumbled out of Bryant, one grievance after another, and the Lakers coaches and players sat watching the two biggest personas in the room push closer together, or irreconcilably apart.
Around this time Dwight’s influence was beginning to take over the team and Kobe Bryant was not happy about it. In his mind there was no way that a player who was not dominating like he should csn come into the organization and overtake what he and countless other Lakers legends have built.
“Kobe talked to Dwight in a way that I don’t think anyone one had ever talked to him – not in Orlando, not here, not in his life, I’m betting,” one witness in the room told Yahoo! Sports. “He’s been coddled, and Kobe wasn’t going to coddle him.”
Despite what you may hear, this was not the driving issue as to why Dwight Howard left. He even stated himself that via Mike Bresnahan of the LA Times. The reason why he departed is due to the praise he did not receive in Los Angeles. You know, the type of praise that is given when you do good things like win consistently. If Howard is not adored by everyone then he will not perform like he should. It happened towards the end of his tenure with Orlando and it happened all year in Los Angeles.
“If he missed two big free throws in Orlando, it was forgotten in 30 minutes,” one league official with ties to Howard’s past says. “If he missed them in L.A., they talked about it for a week. With Dwight, he has to be the face of the franchise. Anything less than that, and it would be difficult for him to function at his highest level.”
“The conditions need to be lined up perfectly to get the most out of Dwight,” one team official who has history with Howard told Yahoo! Sports. “When he’s engaged, he can carry a team like few else in the league. Houston is suited for him.”
Now I will give Howard the credit he deserves. He came off of a possible career-ending surgery and still led the league in rebounds. My hat is off to him, no doubt whatsoever. But for the Lakers to essentially beg Howard to stay in Los Angeles is what did not sit well. He is a superstar that yes, could have become the future of the Lakers and the face for years to come, but he is not what or who the Lakers need to move forward.
To become the face of the Lakers franchise you must earn it. Point blank period.
George Mikan earned it. Elgin Baylor earned it. West and Chamberlain earned it. Kareem and Magic earned it. Kobe and Shaq earned it. Kobe and Pau earned it. They did not come into the franchise and expect for everyone to love them. They played through injuries, team chemistry issues, and even management problems all while working hard and eventually becoming champions.
The Lakers biggest mistake would have been convincing Howard to stay and he actually did. Do the Lakers need a superstar who needs to be handed everything in order to become great? If he could not take the criticism he was receiving all year long what do you think would have happened after Kobe, Pau, and Nash all retired?
With Dr. Buss’ passing and Jim Buss currently at the helm the Lakers cannot afford too many more mistakes as is. Resigning a superstar who would turn to the culture into a laughing stock would have been a mistake for them.
The Lakers have been through this before. The difference between now and then is that everyone wants results immediately. Give the Lakers time. Yes Kobe is pushing his 18th year in the league, yes Nash is going to be 40, and yes Pau Gasol just had his 33rd birthday but in due time it will be fine. If Baylor, Chamberlain, and West needed time so does this team.
What happened when George Mikan, the franchise’s first legitimate star left the franchise for good? They drafted Elgin Baylor. Two years, and one finals appearance for Elgin, later they drafted Jerry West.
What happened when Elgin was becoming older and the duo could not conquer the Celtics? They traded for Wilt Chamberlain. After Wilt retired in 1973 and Jerry hung up his shoes 19474, who was their savior? At seasons end of 1974 they traded for Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Or how about when Kareem could not win a title alone?
In comes Magic. After Kareem retired and Magic states in 1996 that he wants to go out on his own terms, what happened? The Lakers trade for Kobe Bryant on draft day and sign Shaquille O’Neal almost two weeks later. Kobe starts to publicly look elsewhere to finish his career and the Lakers land Pau Gasol.
The Lakers have a clear history of doing whatever needs to be done to improve. Yes it may still sting that Dwight Howard told them no and chose to walk away. Best of luck to him. If he feels Houston is where he will succeed then by all means go. Yes, Jim Buss hired Mike D’Antoni when he could have had Phil Jackson, but don’t forget that he and Mitch pulled the deals to bring in Nash and Howard in the first place.
If there has ever been anything constant within the Lakers organization it has been that they are always a few moves away from being prominent once again. This is just another chapter in the Lakers history book. Rather than become frustrated and spiteful, let us just watch as they plan on making history again.