In lieu of the regular season, Laker Nation has decided to take you back through Laker history to recap important games, record-breaking performances and memorable news from the past 64 years of the franchise. We understand that it’s not the basketball you may have been hoping for, but for the time being, it’s the closest we’ll get to reading about the Lakers on a basketball court.
NOVEMBER 5, 1971
THE STREAK BEGINS
The day after Elgin Baylor’s retirement at 37 years of age, the Lakers would go on to play at home against the Baltimore Bullets, winning 110-106.
Baylor’s retirement would force then-Lakers coach Bill Sharman to adjust his lineup in the absence of the longtime small forward, placing young Jim McMillan into Baylor’s former spot and switching Gail Goodrich into the starting lineup. Veterans Wilt Chamberlain and Jerry West would be offered co-captain spots in Baylor’s absence, but West would decline, saying that “he wished to concentrate 100% on his game.”
The following night, the Lakers would travel up to Oakland to beat the Golden State Warriors 105-89. The following night, they would travel back home, defeating the New York Knicks 103-96. After three straight victories in three days following the retirement of their team captain, the Lakers would take a day off…only to win their next 30 games in a row. The Lakers would not lose a game in the next two months, and no game would come as close as their first victory of the streak over Baltimore (though a December game against the Phoenix Suns would go to overtime, the Lakers would dominate the period and win 126-117).
McMillan would average 19/7/3 in his sophomore season, good enough to put him third on the team in points and rebounds. Goodrich would put up 31 points against the bullets and would go on to lead the Lakers in scoring for the 1971-72 season, despite his modest stature at 6’1″. The Lakers would put together three smaller winning streaks of eight, eight and five to set the NBA’s best regular-season record mark at 69-13, and the Lakers’ 69-13 mark would stand for more than 20 years until being broken by the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls. The Lakers’ 33-game win streak has stood for 40 years, with no other team streaking for more than 22 games in that time.
Fact of the Night: Wilt Chamberlain became only the second captain in Lakers history after Elgin Baylor’s retirement; before Baylor, the Lakers had never had a team captain (from the LA Times, Nov. 8, 1971).