In 1947, the Detroit Gems enthused to Minneapolis and became the Lakers. It was in Minneapolis that basketball fans would witness their first family. The Los Angeles Lakers had great supporting players such as Jim Pollard and Slater Martin, but much like they would in the future, the LA Lakers owned the league's opening big man. There was a time when basketball was supposed to be made for shorter individuals because most giants were poorly coordinated. However, all that changed when the Minneapolis Lakers selected DePaul's George Mikan. At 6'10", 240 pounds, Mikan was simply the tallest man in the NBA and right away dominated basketball. Mikan was unstoppable, and would lead the LA Lakers to 5 NBA Titles before retiring in 1954. He was named the greatest player of the first half-century. Nevertheless, after Mikan's departure, hard times fell on Minneapolis. They suffered not just on the court, but also in ticket sales. With Mikan departed, the fans had less attention to go to LA Lakers games. But before the ultimate move, the LA Lakers gave the Minneapolis fans one last thing to smile about. With the first round pick in the 1958 NBA draft, the LA Lakers selected the man who would change basketball forever: Elgin Baylor.
The next year, the LA Lakers lastly made the move to Los Angeles. They chose to keep their nickname despite the fact that there are no lakes in Los Angeles. Following their brilliant draft option of Elgin Baylor, the LA Lakers would pick up Jerry West, forming quite possibly the best duo in sports throughout the 1960s. West and Baylor were unstoppable. While Jerry West was simply the most accurate shooter in the game, Baylor revolutionized the game. Baylor was the first player to use reverse lay-ups and all sorts of other moves that add pizzazz to a player's game. He was also one of the initial black superstars of the NBA. However, as great as the LA Lakers became, they could never win the NBA title. They made it to the Finals 8 times from 1960-1969, losing every time. Six of those losses came to Bill Russel, Bob Cousy and the Boston Celtics. The LA Lakers could outshoot the Celtics, and they could run faster than the Celtics.
What they didn't have was the size benefit the Celtics possessed in legend Bill Russell. Therefore, in 1969, the LA Lakers signed arguably the greatest player in NBA history, Wilt Chamberlain. In spite of Chamberlain, the Lakers would fail three years straight. In 1969, they lost once more to the Celtics, in what historians have agreed the LA Lakers should have won, but let it slip away. In 1970, the LA Lakers lost in the Finals to Willis Reed and the New York Knicks. In 1971, the LA Lakers lost in the Western Conference Semi-Finals to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and the Milwaukee Bucks. Lastly in 1972, changes occurred. First, Elgin Baylor retired. He played 8 games that year, but nagging injuries forced him to retire. The Lakers had re-acquired sharpshooter Gail Goodrich just one year prior, and now the LA Lakers were ready for the 1972 season. That year, they set an NBA record by winning an impious 33 straight games. They won 69 in total, and found themselves back in the NBA Finals up 3 games to 1 on the Willis Reed-less New York Knicks. This time, history would not evade the Lakers. West and Chamberlain finally brought the Lakers to the NBA title. The Forum in Los Angeles exploded in celebration as the LA Lakers lastly brought a greatly overdue title home. Many are forced to wonder what if. The LA Lakers could have had a family. Instead, it would be the Celtics winning 10 out of 11 titles, 6 of which came at the Lakers expense. This one title is one that no one will ever forget.
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