The Lakers organization started in 1946 when Ben Berger and Morris Chalfen purchased the Detroit Gems for $15K. The Gems were from a league called the "National Basketball League" (NBL). Berger & Morris proceeded to relocate the team to Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Lakers used their first ever #1 pick to select George Mikan, who turned out to be one of the greatest center of all time. Lead by coach John Kundla and Mikan, the Lakers won the NBL championship in the 1947-48 season and switched over to to the Basketball Association of America (BAA), where they won the 1948-49 BAA championship. The NBA as we know today is the result of the merger between the NBL and BAA 1949.
Lead by future Hall of Famers George Mikan, Vern Mikkelsen, Jim Pollard, Slater Martin, and Clyde Lovellette, the Lakers franchised strung together NBA's first dynasty with 5 championships (1949, 1950, 1952, 1953, & 1954) in 6 years.
After their move to Los Angeles in 1960, the team featured Hall of Famers Elgin Baylor, Jerry West, Gail Goodrich, and Wilt Chamberlain, but despite the wealth of talent, they were repeatedly foiled by the Boston Celtics, losing the championship to them six times in eight years. It wasn't until 1972 when they strung together a record 33-game win streak under Coach of the Year Bill Sharman that they were able to secure their first championship in Los Angeles.
However, even with the addition of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, they weren't able to win another championship until the arrival of Earvin "Magic" Johnson in 1979, defeating the Philadelphia 76ers thanks to an MVP performance by the rookie Johnson, who, starting for the injured Abdul-Jabbar, had 42 points, 15 rebounds, and 7 assists to clinch the series. Under coach Pat Riley, a former Laker player, the Lakers then went on to dominate the 1980s, appearing in the finals eight times in the decade and being crowned champions five times, including consecutive championships in 1987 and 1988, the first team to do so since Boston in 1969.
Although they made another finals appearance in 1991, they spent most of the 1990s fielding teams that were not considered legitimate championship contenders. During the 1996-1997 offseason, the Lakers acquired Shaquille O'Neal from the Orlando Magic and Kobe Bryant, the first pieces to the championship puzzle. In 1999, the team brought in Phil Jackson as the new head coach and the result was a run of three straight NBA championships.
The relationship between O'Neal and Bryant was frequently a contentious one, as was the relationship between Bryant and Jackson. The battles came to a head after the 2004 season, with the Lakers having failed to claim the championship for a second consecutive year. O'Neal was traded and Jackson retired, leaving Bryant as the team's unquestioned focal point.
A rough season ensued for the team, resulting in their missing the playoffs and prompting the return of Jackson to coach in the 2005-2006 season. The Lakers showed remarkable improvement and all visible signs of past difficulties between Bryant and Jackson were gone. The Lakers reclaimed a place in the Western Conference playoffs, losing in the first round to the Phoenix Suns. It was a disappointing finish for the team, as they became only the eighth NBA team ever to squander a 3-1 playoff lead and lose the series. Nevertheless, the team's progress over the previous season has restored fans' optimism regarding the Lakers' future.
The rumors of Bryant wanting to leave once the Lakers made the blockbuster trade on February 1, 2008 for Pau Gasol. That and the rejuvenated play of Lamar Odom has spurred the team into winning Western Conference for the 2007-2008 season. Despite losing the NBA Championship to the Boston Celtics, the Lakers are poised to make another title run for the 2008-2009 season with the core players intact.
In the 2008–09 NBA season, the Lakers reclaimed the NBA championship. The Lakerers finished with a 65–17 record and entered the playoffs as the #1 seed in the Western Conference. After defeating the Utah Jazz 4 games to 1, the Lakers battled the Rockets in a 7 games series and won. Then they took out the Denver Nuggets in 6 games, and defeated the Orlando Magic in the 2009 NBA Finals in 5. This was the Lakers' 15th championship in their history. Kobe Bryant was named the Finals MVP for his steller play in the series.
During the 2009 off season, the Lakers signed Ron Artest in lieu of Trevor Ariza, and resigned Lamar Odom to a four year contract. With their championship team intact, the Lakers look to repeat and claim the NBA title in 2009-2010.
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