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 April 6-12, over their 66-year history.
April 6, 2003
Kobe Bryant hit a game-winning shot with 28.6 seconds left in overtime to lift the Lakers over the Phoenix Suns 115-113 in overtime at the STAPLES Center. Bryant also hit the game-tying shot with 14.2 seconds left in regulation. He finished with 26 points and eight rebounds for the three-time defending NBA champions. With the victory, Los Angeles clinched a spot in the 2003 NBA playoffs.
April 6, 2007
Kobe Bryant’s 31 second half points lifted the Lakers to a come-from-behind win against the Seattle SuperSonics, 112-109. Bryant finished with 46 points in this crucial victory for the Lakers in their playoff push, as he reached the 40-point mark for the 16th time that season. Los Angeles got 33 points from its bench, including 11 from Brian Cook and 10 from Ronny Turiaf. The Lakers would eventually make the playoffs as the seventh seed in the Western Conference.
April 12, 1954
The Minneapolis Lakers won the first three-peat in NBA history after defeating the Syracuse Nationals 87-80 in Game Seven of the 1954 NBA Finals. George Mikan led the Lakers to their fifth NBA title in six years after averaging 19.4 points per game and 13.2 rebounds per game in the playoffs. Mikan would retire at the end of the of the 1954 season, only to return for 37 games in 1956 before hanging up his sneakers for good.
April 10, 1962
With three seconds left in Game Three of the 1962 NBA Finals against the Celtics, Jerry West stole Sam Jones’ inbounds pass at midcourt and raced to the basket for the game-winning layup to lift the Lakers over Boston 117-115. Although Los Angeles would eventually lose the NBA Finals in seven games, West became the only player in NBA history to win the Finals MVP award on the losing team.
April 11, 1960
The Minneapolis Lakers selected Jerry West as the second overall pick in the 1960 NBA Draft. West would go on to make the All-Star team in each of his 14 NBA seasons, all spent with the Lakers. His lone NBA championship as a player was won in 1972.
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 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.
One of the greats of the Lakers franchise Vern Mikkelsen sadly passed away yesterday November 21st. Mikkelsen resided in Wayzata, Minnensota with his family.
Lakers President Jeanie Buss had this to say about Mikkelsen,
Vern was one of the first in a long line of great Lakers players, and a key link to our franchise’s early years in Minnesota. We appreciate his contributions to the Lakers and our legacy, and we send our condolences and best wishes to his family.
Vern, who turned 85 last month and was an eleven year prostate cancer survivor, was drafted by the Minneapolis Lakers as a territorial pick in 1949 NBA draft. All 10 of his NBA seasons were with the Lakers franchise as he played alongside other Laker greats in George Mikan and Jim Pollard. During his career, Mikkelsen was a six-time NBA all-star, named to the All-NBA second team four times, and was an integral part of four championship teams in 1950, 1952, 1953, and 1954. His averages were 14.4 points per game (10,063 points total), 9.4 rebounds per game (5,940 rebounds total), and 2.2 assist per game (1,515 assists total).
Mikkelsen was known for for his durability and tenacious defense. He played in 798 out of 800 games in his career. Alongside that statistic, Mikkelsen led the NBA in fouls for three straight years and holds the league record for fouling out of 127 contests. Vern coached and general managed after his playing career, for the Minnesota Pipers in the ABA.
In 1995 Mikkelsen was elected into the Hall of Fame with his coach John Kundla.
Check out two videos below on the Minneapolis Lakers and Vern Mikkelsen!
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.
As NBA teams begin their free agent processes across the country, no bigger spotlight remains than the one on center Dwight Howard.
With the likes of Houston, Dallas, Golden State, Atlanta and of course, the Lakers, competing for his services, Howard remains poised to choose his own career path.
According to ESPNLA.com’s Ramona Shelburne and Dave McMenamin, Howard remains firm in his claim that this upcoming decision “has to be wholeheartedly his decision and his alone.”
Only one of those teams mentioned, however, can give Howard the type of legacy any NBA center would dream of.
From George Mikan to Wilt Chamberlain to Kareem Abdul-Jabar to Shaquille O’Neal, Howard has the opportunity to become the next great big man in line.
A brand new, rather emotional video compilation created by Samuel Limon “theperson18” and his partner John Ramirez, illustrates the incredible potential Howard has if he remains a Los Angeles Laker.
The YouTube video, titled “Dwight Howard: A Destined Legacy“, documents the sheer magnitude of Howard’s impending free agent decision, and the potential legacy he could leave as the Lakers’ next franchise player.
This past NBA season, filled with disappointment and frustration, leaves the Lakers’ fan base questioning the direction of the Lakers this off-season.
Now, with a full Lakers season under Howard’s belt, the onus falls on the front office to bring back the three-time Defensive Player of the Year.
It is no secret that the Lakers’ fan base remains split on whether Howard is the true long-term answer for the franchise. Howard’s emotional demeanor paired with his jovial attitude has led to this discord among fans.
But, after battling through a surgically repaired back and a torn labrum this past season, Howard has proved that he is willing to make the necessary sacrifices to pursue a championship.
In the video compilation, Kobe Bryant provided support for Howard:
“I think Los Angeles is the perfect spot for [Howard],” Bryant said in the video, “to assert himself, to kind of put his foot down and have his career really take off.”
The support also radiates from former Lakers legend Magic Johnson:
“His personality fits LA. This guy has a chance to take LA over,” Johnson explained, “Kobe Bryant is the ultimate closer. Kobe Bryant only wants to win. That’s who you should want to play with. That’s who you should want to be paired with. Kobe Bryant needs [Howard], and [Howard] needs Kobe Bryant.”
As Dwight Howard prepares for his free agent meeting with the Lakers’ contingent on Tuesday, be sure to give the above video a look.
Howard’s decision is sure to shape the direction of the Lakers’ franchise for years to come.
* Video created by Going Beyond, a videography company started in Santa Barbara, California.