Los Angeles Lakers
The Los Angeles Lakers are an American professional basketball team based in Los Angeles, California. They play in the Pacific Division of the Western Conference in the National Basketball Association (NBA). The Lakers play their home games at Staples Center. The Lakers are one of the most successful teams in the history of the NBA, and have won 16 NBA championships, their last being in 2010. As of 2013, the Lakers are the second most valuable NBA franchise according to Forbes, having an estimated value of $1 billion.
The franchise began with the 1947 purchase of a disbanded team, the Detroit Gems of the NBL. The new team began playing in Minneapolis, Minnesota, calling themselves the Minneapolis Lakers in honor of the state’s nickname, “Land of 10,000 Lakes”. Initially a member of the National Basketball League, the Lakers won the 1948 NBL championship before joining the rival Basketball Association of America and winning five of the next six BAA and NBA championships in Minneapolis after the NBA formed in 1949. The team was propelled by center George Mikan, who is described by the NBA’s official website as the league’s “first superstar”. After struggling financially in the late 1950s following Mikan’s retirement, they relocated to Los Angeles before the 1960–61 season.
Led by Hall of Famers Elgin Baylor and Jerry West, Los Angeles made the NBA Finals six times in the 1960s, but lost each series to the Boston Celtics, beginning their long and storied rivalry. In 1968, the Lakers acquired four time MVP Wilt Chamberlain to play center, and after losing in the Finals in 1969 and 1970, they won their sixth NBA title—and first in Los Angeles—in 1972, led by new head coach Bill Sharman. After the retirement of West and Chamberlain, the team acquired another center, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who had won multiple MVP awards, but was unable to make the Finals in the late 1970s. The 1980s Lakers were nicknamed “Showtime” due to their Magic Johnson-led fast break-offense, and won five championships in a nine-year span, including their first ever Finals championship against the Celtics in 1985. This team featured Hall of Famers in Johnson, Abdul-Jabbar, and James Worthy, and a Hall of Fame coach, Pat Riley. After Abdul-Jabbar and Johnson’s retirement, the team struggled in the early 1990s before acquiring Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant in 1996. Led by O’Neal, Bryant, and another Hall of Fame coach, Phil Jackson, Los Angeles won three consecutive titles between 2000 to 2002, securing the franchise its second “three-peat”. After losing both the 2004 and 2008 NBA Finals, the Lakers won two more championships by defeating the Orlando Magic in 2009 and Boston in 2010.
The Lakers hold the record for NBA’s longest winning streak, 33 straight games, set during the 1971–72 season. Sixteen Hall of Famers have played for Los Angeles, while four have coached the team. Four Lakers—Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant—have won the NBA Most Valuable Player Awards for a total of eight awards.