Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

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 20-26, over their 66-year history.

April 23, 1950

The Lakers won back-to-back NBA Championships for the first time in league history. They bested the Syracuse Nationals in six games in the 1950 NBA Finals.

April 23, 1969

Jerry West scored 53 points to lift the Lakers passed the Celtics in Game 1 of the 1969 NBA Finals. West’s 53 points are the second most in NBA Finals history by a guard, second only to Michael Jordan’s 55 points against the Suns in Game 4 of the 1993 Finals. Los Angeles ultimately fell to Boston in the 1969 Finals in seven games.

Vernon Biever/Getty Images

Vernon Biever/Getty Images

April 23, 1989

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar played the final game of his NBA career, as the Lakers defeated the Seattle SuperSonics, 121-117. Abdul-Jabbar finished his career with the NBA record for points and games played with 38,387 and 1,560, respectively.

April 25, 1965

The Lakers defeated the Baltimore Bullets in six games in the 1965 Western Division Finals, as Jerry West averaged 46.3 points per game in the series. West recorded the highest scoring average for a playoff series in NBA history, after scoring at least 40 points in each of the six games played. The Lakers eventually lost to the Celtics in five games in the NBA Finals.

April 25, 2004

Kobe Bryant converted an eventual game-winning three-point play with a layup and a made-free throw with 40 seconds remaining in overtime of Game 5 of the Western Conference first-round against the Houston Rockets. Bryant scored six of his 18 points in overtime, while 40-year-old Karl Malone led the way for the Lakers with 30 points and 13 rebounds. The win gave the Lakers a three games to one series lead. They eventually won the series in five games, and advanced to the NBA Finals, before falling to the Pistons.

 

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.

Bob Flora/Bettmann/CORBIS

Bob Flora/Bettmann/CORBIS

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 30-April 5, over their 66-year history.

March 31, 2002

The Lakers defeated the San Antonio Spurs in a 96-95 thriller at the STAPLES Center. With the Lakers trailing by one point with 15 seconds left in regulation, Derek Fisher made two clutch free throws, after a loose ball foul, to give Los Angeles the lead for good. Shaquille O’Neal then blocked a Tim Duncan jumper at the other end of the court to end the game and seal the victory for the Lakers. Kobe Bryant led the purple and gold with 31 points and nine rebounds, while O’Neal added 24 points and nine boards.

April 4, 2003

Kobe Bryant hit a game-winning buzzer-beater over Shane Battier, as the Lakers erased a 23-point fourth-quarter deficit to defeat the Grizzlies 102-101 in Memphis. Bryant finished with 21 points, including 10 in the fourth quarter. Shaquille O’Neal led Los Angeles with 33 points and 19 rebounds, on 13 of 20 shots from the field.

Reed Saxon/AP

Reed Saxon/AP

April 5, 1984

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar became the NBA’s all-time leading scorer, as he surpassed Wilt Chamberlain’s career total of 31,419 points in a 129-115 victory over the Jazz. Abdul-Jabbar’s record-clinching shot came in the form of his trademark sky-hook. To this day, Abdul-Jabbar remains the NBA’s all-time leading scorer. He finished his illustrious career with 38,387 points.

April 5, 1998

The Lakers rallied from an 18-point third-quarter deficit to defeat the Pistons 105-103 in overtime at The Palace in Detroit. Shaquille O’Neal led the way for Los Angeles, as he scored 35 points and collected 12 rebounds, while Nick Van Exel chipped in with 19 points. This victory marked the fifth straight win for the Lakers, as they completed their first four-game Eastern Conference road sweep since the 1986-87 championship-winning season.

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.

Getty Images

Getty Images

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 March 16-22, over their 66-year history.

March 16, 2000

With a 109-102 loss to the Wizards, the Lakers’ season-high 19-game winning streak ended in Washington, D.C. At the time, Los Angeles’ streak was the third best in NBA history. It currently ranks 6th on the NBA’s all-time winning streak list.

March 19, 1956

The Minneapolis Lakers won Game 2 of the Western Division Finals against the St. Louis Hawks by a score of 133-75. All ten Lakers who played in the game scored in double figures. This 58-point margin of victory is the highest ever in the history of the NBA playoffs.

March 19, 1972

The Lakers beat the Golden State Warriors 162-99 in Los Angeles. This victory marked the most lopsided score differential in NBA history, at the time. Gail Goodrich paced the Lakers with 30 points, while Jim McMillian added 22 points in the win. This 63-point margin of victory stood for 19 years as highest in NBA history, until Cleveland defeated Miami by 68 points in 1991.

 J.D. Cuban/Getty Images

J.D. Cuban/Getty Images

March 20, 1990

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s number 33 jersey was retired during halftime of an eventual Lakers’ win against Charlotte in Los Angeles. Abdul-Jabbar’s jersey went into the rafters of the Great Western Forum as the jersey of the NBA’s all-time leading scorer.

March 21, 2004

Kobe Bryant hit a game-winning jump shot over Keith Van Horn with 25.1 seconds left in overtime, as the Lakers defeated the Milwaukee Bucks 104-103 at the Staples Center. Bryant, who recorded 22 points and eight rebounds in the game, was the second best Laker performer on the night, as Shaquille O’Neal finished with 31 points and an NBA season-high 26 rebounds. This win marked the fifth straight for the Lakers, and ninth in 11 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 9-15, over their 66-year history.

March 9, 1988

Pat Riley got his 400th career coaching win in a 104-99 victory over the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden. Riley reached the 400-win mark in just 540 games, making him the fastest coach to do so in NBA history.

March 9, 2010

Kobe Bryant hit a game-winning fade-away jump shot over Antoine Wright with 1.9 seconds remaining in regulation to lift the Lakers over the Toronto Raptors 109-107 at the Staples Center. Bryant, who scored 14 points in the fourth quarter, finished the game with 32 points. This victory ended a three-game losing streak for Los Angeles, which hadn’t lost four straight since April 2007. Andrew Bynum chipped in with 22 points for the Lakers, while Pau Gasol added 17 points and nine rebounds in the win.

Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE/Getty Images

Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE/Getty Images

March 10, 1987

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar set an NBA record for most-ever personal fouls committed, after fouling Denver’s Danny Schayes during the first quarter of an eventual Lakers victory over the Nuggets. With this foul, Abdul-Jabbar raised his career total to 4,194, which put him one ahead of Elvin Hayes, the previous all-time leader. Abdul-Jabbar finished his career with 4,657 fouls, which still stands atop the NBA’s all-time list.

March 12, 2005

Kobe Bryant hit a game-winning jump shot over Keith Bogans with 0.9 seconds left in the game to propel the Lakers passed the Bobcats 117-116 in Charlotte. Bryant scored 21 of his 32 points in the fourth quarter, on 8-for-12 shooting from the field. He added four rebounds and nine assists in the win. This victory gave Los Angeles its first consecutive road wins of the 2004-2005 season.

March 13, 1992

Chick Hearn broadcasted his 2,500th consecutive game for the Lakers, when they played the Cavaliers at the Richfield Coliseum in Cleveland. Hearn’s record-breaking streak spanned 3,338 games from 1965 to 2001.

 

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.

Robert Laberge/Getty Images

Robert Laberge/Getty Images

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 February 9-15, over their 66-year history.

February 9, 1992

Magic Johnson was honored for the second time in his illustrious career as the MVP of the NBA All-Star Game, as he dropped a game-high 25 points and dished out nine assists to lead the West to a 153-113 victory over the Eastern Conference squad. This game was Johnson’s first time back on the hardwood since announcing his retirement from the NBA on November 7, 1991.

February 10, 2002

Kobe Bryant was named the MVP of the 52nd NBA All-Star Game after scoring 31 points in 30 minutes of action for the Western Conference team, as they defeated the East 135-120 in Philadelphia. This game marked the first of four times that Bryant would win the All-Star Game MVP award in his career.

Andy Hayt/ NBAE/ Getty Images

Andy Hayt / NBAE / Getty Images

February 13, 2000

Shaquille O’Neal shared the All-Star Game MVP honors with Tim Duncan after scoring 22 points in 25 minutes, as the West held off the East 137-126 at The Arena in Oakland. The powerful Western Conference starting frontcourt, including O’Neal, Duncan, and Kevin Garnett, tallied 70 total points and grabbed 33 rebounds collectively.

February 13, 2001

Kobe Bryant hit a game-winning layup with 4.8 seconds left in overtime, and then hit a free throw to complete the three-point play after getting fouled on the shot, to lift the Lakers over the Nets 113-110 in New Jersey. Bryant’s game-winner overshadowed Stephon Marbury’s game-high 50 points for the Nets. Bryant finished the game with a team-high 38 points, while Shaquille O’Neal contributed 32 for the Lakers.

February 14, 1986

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar became the NBA’s all-time leader for total minutes played in a career, as he surpassed Elvin Hayes’ previous record of 50,000 minutes in a 141-117 win over Atlanta. Abdul-Jabbar finished his career with 57,446 total minutes played, which still holds as the NBA record.

Getty Images

Getty Images

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 15-21, over their 66-year history.

December 16, 2009

Kobe Bryant lifted the Lakers in overtime with a buzzer-beating jump-shot over Charlie Bell to defeat the Milwaukee Bucks 107-106 in Milwaukee. Bryant led the Lakers with 39 points in 50 minutes of action, while Pau Gasol had a monster game with 26 points and 22 rebounds.

December 19, 2003

Kobe Bryant hit a game-winning, buzzer-beater at the end of regulation, when the Lakers beat the Denver Nuggets by a score of 101-99 at the Staples Center. Bryant’s fade-away over Jon Barry counted for two of his 13 points on the day. Shaquille O’Neal led Los Angeles with 26 points in the win.

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Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images

December 20, 2001

Lakers’ play-by-play announcer Chick Hearn missed his first broadcast in 36 years and 3,338 games, when the Lakers took on the Houston Rockets in Texas. At this time, Hearn was recovering from cardiac bypass surgery, but returned to the booth later in the 2001-02 season. Hearn’s last broadcast occurred during Game 4 of the 2002 NBA Finals, when the Lakers beat the New Jersey Nets to win their third straight NBA Championship. Hearn is known for coining popular basketball phrases such as “slam dunk,” “air ball,” and “no harm, no foul.”

December 21, 1980

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar scored a season-high 42 points to surpass 25,000 career points, in a 135-102 Lakers victory over the San Antonio Spurs. On this date, Abdul-Jabbar became just the fifth player in NBA history to reach the 25,000-point milestone.

December 21, 1985

The Lakers won their NBA-best 24th game of the season, raising their record to 24-3, when they defeated the Washington Bullets 96-84. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar led the scoring attack with 29 points, while Magic Johnson followed suit with 15 points and 13 rebounds. The Lakers finished the 1985-86 regular season with 62 wins, making it one of 11 seasons in team history with 60 or more victories.

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Photo Credit: Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

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.

Photo by Getty Images

Photo by Getty Images

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.

PhotoCredit: JON SOOHOO/NBAE/GETTY IMAGES

Photo Credit: Jon Soohoo/NBAE/Getty Images

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 over their 66-year history.

December 1, 1981

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar becomes the second all-time leading scorer in NBA history after scoring 14 points in a 117-86 rout of the Utah Jazz. Abdul-Jabbar, the eventual six-time NBA champion, finished the 1981-82 season with more than 28,000 career points, trailing the NBA’s then leading-scorer Wilt Chamberlain by 3,000 points. “Cap” finished his playing career in 1989 as the NBA’s all-time leading scorer with 38,387 points, a record that still holds today.

PhotoCredit:Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Photo Credit: Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

December 4, 1987

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s streak of consecutive games scoring 10+ points is halted at 787 games. The future hall of famer scored just seven points in an 85-83 Lakers loss to the Milwaukee Bucks. Abdul-Jabbar’s streak currently ranks second best in NBA history, behind Michael Jordan’s 866 consecutive games of scoring in double figures.

December 5, 2012

Kobe Bryant becomes just the fifth player in NBA history to score 30,000 points. Bryant netted 29 points, as the Lakers beat the New Orleans Hornets 103-87. Kobe currently sits behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Karl Malone, Michael Jordan, and Wilt Chamberlain for most points scored in an NBA career. At 34, Bryant was the youngest player to ever reach the 30,000 point plateau.

December 6, 2002

The Lakers overcome a 27-point deficit in the fourth quarter to defeat the Dallas Mavericks 105-103 at the Staples Center. Kobe Bryant finished with a game-high 27 points, while scoring 21 of his 27 in the fourth quarter. Bryant hit a jumper with 8.4 seconds left in the game to give the Lakers the lead and the eventual win. Shaquille O’Neal added 26 points and 11 rebounds. This game marks the largest fourth-quarter comeback in Lakers history, and the second largest fourth-quarter rally in NBA history, behind Milwaukee’s 28 point turnaround in 1977.

December 7, 1986

Lakers head coach Pat Riley records his 300th career win behind a 132-100 victory over the Golden State Warriors. The former Lakers guards became the 27th head coach in NBA history to win at least 300 games. Riley broke the record for fastest NBA head coach to 300 wins, which was previously held by Billy Cunningham of the Philadelphia 76ers at 430 games. Riley needed just 416 games to reach the milestone.

PhotoCredit: HarryHow/GettyImages

PhotoCredit: HarryHow/GettyImages

This has happened before, right?

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.

When I read Yahoo Sports NBA writer Adrian Wojnarowski’s latest, and maybe final, story on Dwight Howard announcing that he will become a Houston Rocket and leave the Lakers on July 10th it all came together. The reason why Howard did not fit the franchise is because he wanted it to fit him from day 1. Sorry Dwight, but that is not how things work here.

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.

Photo Credit: Sports Illustrated

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.

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