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Oscar Robertson

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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.

Nathaniel S. Butler/Getty Images
NBAPhotos/ NBAE/ Getty Images
NBAPhotos/ NBAE/ Getty Images

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.

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

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.

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Wearing both #8 and #24 throughout his career, which of Kobe Bryant's numbers should the Lakers retire?