Los Angeles Lakers
1960/61: After 13 years in the Land of 10,000 lakes the Lakers moved to Los Angeles, becoming the first NBA team on the West Coast. Despite no lakes anywhere in site the team decides to retain their old nickname. To help the Lakers dominate out west the Lakers draft Guard Jerry West. In their first season in LA the Lakers finish in second place with a 36-43 record. In the playoffs the Lakers beat the Detroit Pistons in a high scoring five game series. Moving on to the Western Finals the Lakers continues to rack up the points, but for the second year in a row blew a 3-2 lead to the St. Louis Hawks, losing by one point in Overtime in Game 6 and by two points in Game 7.
1961/62: Despite Elgin Baylor missing a large part of the season on military duty the Lakers win the Western Division with a solid 54-26 record. When he did play he averaged 38.3 ppg giving the Lakers a dangerous 1-2 punch with Jerry West. In the playoffs the Lakers beat the Detroit Pistons in six games in the Western Finals after earning a first round bye. In the NBA Finals the Lakers were matched up against the Boston Celtics, who were seeking their 4th straight Championship. After splitting the first four games the Lakers beat the Celtics 126-121 in Boston to grab a 3-2 series lead. However, with a chance to close things out in LA, the Lakers were blown out forcing a seventh game back in Beantown. Game 7 would go down in history as one of the best in NBA history, as with time expiring the Lakers had a shot at winning the championship as Frank Selvy’s last second shot rimmed out forcing overtime. In overtime the Lakers would be outscored 10-7 as their Championship dreams came to an end.
1962/63: Elgin Baylor scores 34 ppg as the Lakers win their second straight Division title with a 53-27 record. After a first round bye the Lakers beat the St. Louis Hawks in a seven game series in which the home team dominated every game. The NBA Finals would end up being a rematch with the Boston Celtics, this time it would take the Celtics only six games to win their fifth straight NBA Championship.
1963/64: The Lakers weakness at center is exploited as they finish in third place with a 42-38 record. In the playoffs the Lakers would once again face the St. Louis Hawks in a series in which the home team won every game. However, this time the 5th a deciding game was in St. Louis.
1964/65: The Lakers rebound to recapture the Western Division Title with a 49-31 record. In the playoffs the Lakers would reach their third NBA Finals in four years by beating the Baltimore Bullets in six games. However, once again they are defeated by the Boston Celtics this time falling in five games.
1965/66: The Lakers are purchased for $5 million dollars by eccentric millionaire Jack Kent Cooke. The team is left virtual intact as they win the Western Division again with a 45-35 record. In the Western Finals the Lakers recover to win Game 7 after blowing a 3-1 series lead to the St. Louis Hawks to reach their fourth NBA Finals in five years. In the Finals it would be the Lakers who rallied coming back from a 3-1 deficit to force a seventh game against the Boston Celtics. However, in Game 7 the Celtics would win their eighth Straight Title, five of which came at the expense of the Lakers with a 95-93 victory.
1966/67: Injuries take their toll on the Lakers as Jerry West and Elgin Baylor both miss long stretches of the season. Despite the injuries the Lakers would still make the playoffs by finishing in third place with a disappointing 36-45 record. In the playoffs the Lakers would make a quick exit being swept by the San Francisco Warriors in three straight games.
1967/68: Feeling his team needed a more fitting owner Jack Kent Cooke builds his team a new 17,000-seat arena that was ahead of its time. In their first season at The Forum, the Lakers finish in second place with a solid 52-30 record, despite losing Jerry West for 31 games with an injury. In the playoffs the Lakers would turn it up a notch beating the Chicago Bulls four games to one. Moving on to the Western Finals the Lakers would sweep the San Francisco Warriors in four straight games to earn a rematch with Boston Celtics. In the Finals the Celtics would once again beat the Lakers taking their tenth title in 12 years by beating the Lakers in six games.
1968/69: To help fill their hole in the middle, the Lakers acquire Center Wilt Chamberlain, in the hope he would be the missing ingredient in winning an NBA Championship. With Wilt in the middle the Lakers win the Western Division with a 55-27 record. In the playoffs the Lakers would get off to a shaky start losing their first two games to the San Francisco Warriors. The Lakers would rally back to win the next four games. In the Western Finals the Lakers would have a much easier time beating the Atlanta Hawks in five games. Facing the Boston Celtics for the seventh time in 11 years the Lakers were heavy favorites holding home court advantage for the first time. This appeared they to finally give them the edge they needed as they took the first two games at the Forum. After losing Game 3 in Boston the Lakers held a one point lead in the final seconds but lost Game 4 when Sam Jones hit a last second shot to even the series. Back in LA the Lakers re-took control taking Game 5. After the Celtics won Game 6 in Boston the Lakers were confident with the seventh game at home, in a series in which the home team won every game. However, the Celtics grabbed control early building a 17-point lead entering the 4th Quarter, the Lakers would not give up rallying in the 4th Quarter but falling two points short 108-106. Despite losing the series Jerry West would be named series MVP.
1969/70: With new Coach Joe Mullaney, the Lakers overcome a season of injury in which Wilt Chamberlain was limited to 9 games, and Elgin Baylor was limited to 54 to finish in second place with a 46-36 record, as Jerry West led the league in scoring with 31.2 ppg. The Lakers would get healthy just in time for the playoffs as Chamberlain and Baylor both returned from knee injuries. However both were rusty and the Lakers found themselves in a 3-1 hole to the Phoenix Suns. However, both would find their footing as the Lakers rallied to win the series in seven games. In the Western Finals the Lakers stayed hot as they swept the Atlanta Hawks in four straight games. In the Finals the Lakers were matched up against the New York Knicks. After splitting the first two games in New York the Lakers sent Game 3 to overtime when Jerry West sank a game-tying basket from half court. However, in an era before the three point shot the Knicks would win the game in overtime 111-108. Game 4 would also go to overtime with Lakers tying the series again with a 121-115 victory. The Knicks would bounce back to win Game 5 despite losing Willis Reed to a torn calf muscle. Without Reed the Lakers would take advantage in Game 6 winning 135-113. With Game 7 back in New York the Lakers were poised to win their first Championship since moving to LA, but their psyches took a bruising when Reed came out of nowhere and scored the game’s first two baskets. It would be the only ones he would hit but the Lakers were already physiologically beaten as they came up one game short again losing 113-99.
1970/71: Elgin Baylor’s career comes to an end when his nagging knee limits him to just two games. Without Baylor new acquisitions Gail Goodrich and Harold Harriston would fill in gamely leading the Lakers to the Pacific Division Championship with a 48-34 record. In the playoffs the Lakers would survive a seven game series against the Chicago Bulls to reach the Western Conference Finals. However, in the western Finals the Lakers would be dominated by former UCLA star Lew Alcindor who leads the Milwaukee Bucks past LA in five games.
1971/72: Prior to the season the Lakers change coaches again hiring Bill Sharman a key player on the Boston Celtics team that won 11 Championships in 13 years. On November 5th the Lakers beat the Baltimore Bullets 111-106. The win was the first of 14 straight to close out the month of November. In December the Lakers continued to roll as they surpassed the Milwaukee Bucks record-winning streak of 20 games. The Lakers would continue to roll into the New Year before losing to the Bucks 120-104 on January 9th. Along the way the Lakers won 33 straight games setting an American Professional Sports record. The Lakers would go to finish with a then NBA all-time best record of 69-13. In the playoffs the Lakers remained unstoppable as they swept the Chicago Bulls in four straight games. Moving on to the Western Finals the Lakers lost Game 1, and escaped with a 135-134 win over the Bucks in Game 2. After splitting the next 2 in Milwaukee the Lakers dominance took over again as they won the final two games to dethrone the defending Champion Bucks in six games. In the finals the Lakers overcame another Game 1 loss to beat the New York Knicks in five games to finally earn their first World Championship in Los Angeles, as Wilt Chamberlains was named Finals MVP.
1972/73: The Lakers dominated the West again winning the Pacific Division by 13 games with a 60-22 record. In his final season Wilt Chamberlain leads the NBA in rebounds and Field Goal percentage setting a new NBA record at .727. After surviving a seven game series with Chicago Bulls the Lakers breezed past the Golden State Warriors in five games to earn a rematch with New York Knicks in the Finals. The Lakers would get off to a promising start beating the Knicks 115-112 in Game 1. However, the Knicks would rally to win the next four games to take the Championship.
1973/74: The acquisitions of Connie Hawkins and Elmore Smith help the Lakers fill the void left by Wilt Chamberlain as they win the Pacific Division with a 47-35 record despite Jerry West playing in only 31 games. Helping to drive the Lakers to the postseason is Gail Goodrich who averages 25.3 ppg. However, in the playoffs the Lakers are bounced quickly falling to the Milwaukee Bucks led by Kareem-Abdul Jabbar in five games.
1974/75: With Jerry West retiring before the season the Lakers signed Cazzie Russell. However, Russell is limited to 40 games as the Lakers miss the playoff for the first time in 17 years when they still played in Minneapolis, while finishing in last place with a 30-52 record.
1975/76: To help reload the Lakers acquire Kareem Abdul-Jabbar from the Milwaukee Bucks for Elmore Smith, Brian Winters, Junior Bridgeman, and Dave Meyers. Kareem was already failure to fans in Los Angels as he led UCLA to 3 straight titles when he was known as Lew Alcindor. in his first season with Lakers Kareem Abdul-Jabbar had won the NBA MVP for the 4th time in his career by leading the league in rebounding, blocked shots, while finishing second in scoring. However, the Lakers endure a 3-10 January and miss the playoff for the second straight season with a 40-42 record. Following the season the Lakers would lose Gail Goodrich to free agency when he signs with New Orleans Jazz.
1976/77: With Jerry West taking over as Coach the Lakers climb back to the top of the Pacific Division with a league best 53-29 record, as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar wins his second straight MVP. However, in the playoffs the Lakers would struggle needing seven games to knock off the Golden State Warriors before being swept by the Portland Trailblazers in the Western Conference Finals.
1977/78: Just two minutes into the season opener Kareem Abdul-Jabbar punched Kent Benson of the Milwaukee Bucks in retaliation for an overly aggressive elbow. Abdul-Jabbar broke his hand and was out for two months. Then another fight gave the Lakers a black eye when Kermit Washington punched Rudy Tomjanovich of the Houston Rockets shattering his face. Washington who claimed him though Tomjanovich was running at him received an NBA record 60-game suspension. Despite the poor start the Lakers would finish strong winning 28 of their final 41 to make the playoffs with a 45-37 record. However, in the first round the Lakers are beaten by the Seattle Supersonics in a three game series.
1978/79: The Lakers show signs of greatness as they finish in third place with a 47-35 record. In the playoffs the Lakers would beat the Denver Nuggets in a three game series before falling to the Seattle Supersonics in five games. Following the season owner Jack Kent Cooke sold his sports empire, which included the Lakers and the Great Western Forum, to Santa Monica real estate developer Jerry Buss for $67.5 million. With Jerry West leaving the bench to run the front office, Jack McKinney is brought in as the new coach. In Jerry West’s first draft the Lakers had the top pick as compensation for losing Gail Goodrich three years earlier and select Guard Magic Johnson who led Michigan State to National Championship.
1979/80: Magic Johnson makes a big splash in his very first game as nailed a game winning shot over the San Diego Clippers in his very first game. The Lakers would get off to a solid 10-4 start before new Coach Jack McKinney is injured in a serious bicycle accident. With Paul Westhead running the team the rest of the way the Lakers win the Pacific Division with an impressive 60-22 record, as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar wins his sixth MVP. In the playoffs the Lakers fly through the west knocking off the Phoenix Suns and Seattle Supersonics in five games each. In the NBA Finals the Lakers and Philadelphia 76ers split the first four games all of which were decided in the final minutes. In Game 5 at the Forum Kareem would fight through a sprained ankle to score 40 points in a Lakers 108-103 win. However, in Game 6 at Philadelphia, Kareem was unable to play and 20-year old Magic Johnson was moved over to center. In one of the most impressive single game performances in Finals history Magic single-handedly carries the Lakers to a 123-107 victory by tallying 42 points, 15 rebounds, and 7 assists, as the Lakers win their second Championship since moving to LA. With his Game 6 heroics Magic Johnson would be named Finals MVP.
1980/81: Coming off their Championship the Lakers lose Magic Johnson for half the season due to a knee injury, and fall into secpnd place with a 54-28 record. In the playoffs the Lakers would make a quick exit falling to the Houston Rockets two game to one in the first round.
1981/82: The Lakers play mediocre basketball out of the gate winning seven of their first 11 games when Coach Paul Westhead who clashed with Magic Johnson is fired. To replace Westhead the Lakers promote assistant Coach Pat Riley. The move paid dividends right away as the Lakers won 17 of their first 20 under Riley, on the way to winning the Pacific Division with a 57-25 record. In the playoffs the Lakers swept through the Phoenix Suns and San Antonio Spurs on the way to the NBA Finals. In the Finals the Lakers continued to fly jumping out to a 3-1 series lead before beating the Philadelphia 76ers in six games for their second Championship in three years. Magic Johnson once again proved to shine brightest in the spotlight as he won the Finals MVP.
1982/83: The NBA Champion Lakers benefit from future considerations again, landing the number one overall pick from a 1980 trade with the Cleveland Cavaliers for Don Ford. With the top pick the Lakers would select North Carolina Forward James Worthy. Worthy was the perfect complement for Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. However, while the Lakers were completing a 58-24 season that saw them win their second straight Division Title Worthy suffered a broken leg forcing him to mss the playoffs. In the Playoffs the Lakers had no problem advancing back to the finals as they beat the Portland Trailblazers in five games, San Antonio Spurs in six games. However in the Finals the Lakers express would run into a brick wall, as they are swept by the Philadelphia 76ers in four straight games.
1983/84: The Lakers overcome an early injury to Magic Johnson to finish with a 54-28 record that wins them the Pacific Division for the third year in a row. As the season wounded down on April 5th Kareem Abdul-Jabbar became the NBA’s all-time leading scorer when he scored point 31,420 to pass Wilt Chamberlain on the all-time scoring list. In the playoffs the Lakers swept the Kansas City Kings in three straight games. The Lakers stayed hot in the second round beating the Dallas Mavericks in five games, to reach the Western Finals, where they would eclipse the Phoenix Suns in six games. In the NBA Finals it was a return to the days of old as the Lakers faced the Boston Celtics. The featured match up of the revival of the NBA’s old rivalry was Magic Johnson battling Larry Bird. The two stars had battled five years earlier in the most watched NCAA Championship Game of all-time. Since entering the NBA each had been key into driving the league to new heights of popularity. The Lakers would get off to a fast start winning Game in Boston. After the Celtics won Game 2 in overtime the Lakers blew apart the Celtics at the Forum. With a shot to take a 3-1 lead the Lakers blew a lead and fell in overtime as the Celtics even the series. After losing Game 5 in Boston, the Lakers forced a seventh game with a 119-108 win in LA. However, as was the case in the 60’s the Lakers would lose the series falling in Game 7 in Boston 111-102.
1984/85: Showtime continued to reign out West as the Lakers cruised to their fourth straight Division Title with a 62-20 record. In the playoffs the Lakers ran through the West easily again sweeping the Phoenix Suns in three straight games, before beating the Portland Trailblazers and Denver Nuggets in five game series to earn a NBA Finals rematch with the Boston Celtics. After losing the previous eight NBA Finals match ups with Celtics the Lakers looked to be in trouble after losing Game 1 in Boston by 34 points. However, The Lakers would rebound to win the next two games. After the Celtics won Game 4, the Lakers won a crucial fifth game to take a 3-2 lead as the series shifted back to Boston. In Game 6 led by Finals MVP Kareem Abdul-Jabbar the Lakers finally solved the Celtics by winning the series with a 111-100 victory.
1985/86: Once again the Lakers and Boston Celtics appeared to be on a collision course as the Lakers dominated the West with a 62-20 record, winning their fifth straight Division Title. In the playoffs the Lakers continued to roll as the swept the San Antonio Spurs before beating the Dallas Mavericks in six games. However, the Lakers-Celtics Finals match up would never take place as the Lakers are stunned by the Houston Rockets in five games, as Ralph Sampson nails a stunning buzzer beating shot in Game 5 at the Forum.
1986/87: The focus of the Lakers offense is shifted from an aging Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to Magic Johnson in the hopes off reclaiming the NBA Championship. The move would pay off as the Lakers finished with a league best 65-17 record, as Magic won his first MVP award. In the playoffs the Lakers dominated the West sweeping the Denver Nuggets, before beating the Golden State Warriors in five games. Learning from their mistakes of the previous year the Lakers made a statement sweeping the Seattle Supersonics in four straight games to earn a rematch with the Boston Celtics. In previous Finals match up with Celtics it was the Lakers who were the underdog, but this time around they were heavy favorites facing a banged up Celtics team. The Lakers would get off to a fast start winning the first two games in LA. The Celtics would rebound to Game 3, and appeared to be on the way to evening the series with a lead late in the 4th Quarter of Game 4. However, wit time winding down Magic Johnson hit a baby skyhook that gave the Lakers a 107-106 win, and a 3-1 series lead. After the Celtics won Game 5, the Lakers closed out the series with a 106-93 Game 6 win at the Forum. Magic Johnson would go on to be named Finals MVP.
1987/88: Motivated by Coach Pat Riley who guaranteed the Lakers would repeat the Lakers finish with best record in the NBA again at 62-20. In the playoffs the Lakers got off to a fast start sweeping the San Antonio Spurs in three straight games. However, the Lakers would find themselves in tough series the rest of the way needing seven games to get past both the Utah Jazz, and Dallas Mavericks on the way to the NBA Finals. In the Finals the Lakers were given an early wake up call when they dropped Game 1 at home to the Detroit Pistons 105-93. The Lakers would rebound to win the next two games. However, after being blown out in Game 4 and Game 5 the Lakers returned to LA down three games to twp. In Game 6 the Lakers would rally to win 103-102 to force a seventh Game. In Game 7 led by a triple-double from Series MVP James Worthy, the Lakers won their fifth title of the decade and second straight with a 108-105 win.
1988/89: With Coach Pat Riley trade marking the phrase Three-peat the Lakers looked to be heading for another Championship as they posted a 57-25 record, as Magic Johnson was his second MVP in Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s final season. After Kareem’s victory tour the Lakers season began in earnest in the playoffs as they swept through the Portland Trailblazers, Seattle Supersonics, and Phoenix Suns on the way to a Finals rematch with the Detroit Pistons. However, as the Finals began the Lakers broke down first Byron Scott went down to a hamstring injury then Magic Johnson was hobbled as the Lakers were swept in four straight ga,es.
1989/90: Without Kareem Abdul-Jabbar the Lakers did not skip a beat as Vlade Divac took over for the legend at center while the Lakers won their nine straight Division Title with a 63-19 record. Leading the way for the Lakers was Magic Johnson who won his third MVP in four years. The Lakers would begin the playoffs on a strong note beating the Houston Rockets three games to one. However, in the second round Showtime would come to a sudden end when the Lakers are beaten by the Phoenix Suns in five games. Following the loss Pat Riley would resign as Coach.
1990/91: Under new Coach Mike Dunleavy the Lakers would get off to a slow start losing five of their first seven games. However the Lakers would recover, and would go on to finish with a 58-24 record. However, the Lakers reign as Pacific Division Champions came to an end as they are beaten out by the Portland Trailblazers by five games. During the season Magic Johnson would make history breaking Oscar Robertson’s record for career assists. In the playoffs the Lakers would get to the Western Conference Finals by sweeping the Houston Rockets, and beating the Golden State Warriors in five games. In the Western Finals the Lakers would reassert themselves as the Best in the West as they shocked the Trailblazers in six games. In the NBA Finals it was a match up of Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan as the Lakers faced the Chicago Bulls. The Lakers would get off to a fast start in the Finals as Sam Perkins nailed a last second three pointer to beat the Bulls 93-91. However, the rest of the way it was the Michael Jordan show as he led the Bulls to their first title by winning the next four games.
1991/92: The Lakers suffer devastating blow before the season even starts as Magic Johnson is forced to retire after testing positive for HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Magic would make a brief return playing in the All-Star Game where he stole the show and won the Game’s MVP. However, without him Magic the Lakers would struggle just to earn the eighth seed with a 43-39 record. In the playoffs the Lakers would make a quick exit losing to the Portland Trailblazers in five games.
1992/93: After playing in the Olympics Magic Johnson attempts a comeback, but cuts in short when other NBA players express fear of playing against him. With new Coach Randy Pfund the Lakers would struggle all season, but would gain the eighth playoff spot despite a 39-43 record. In the playoffs the Lakers would show signs of Showtime as they beat the Phoenix Suns in the first two games of their first round series. With the series heading to Los Angeles the Lakers appeared on their way to one of the biggest upsets in NBA history. However the Suns would recover and would send the series back to Phoenix for Game. In Game 5 the Lakers would have a shot for the upset again missing a last second shot as the game went to overtime where the Suns pulled out a 112-104 victory.
1993/94: With Lakers out of playoff position and struggling in March, the team decides to bring Magic Johnson back as Coach. The moved seemed to work at first as the Lakers won five of their first six games under Magic. However, reality would strike as the Lakers lost their final nine games to finish with a 33-49 record, missing the playoffs for the first time in 18 years. Following the season Magic Johnson would announce he would not return as Coach.
1994/95: With the new Coach Del Harris the Lakers were one of the most improved teams in the NBA as Nick Van Exel emerged as one of the best point guards in the NBA. The Lakers would finish the season in third place earning a trip to the playoffs. In the playoff Van Exel continued to emerge as a star as he averages 24.2 ppg in a first round upset over the Seattle Supersonics in four games. In the second round Van Exel made the highlight reel again as he nailed to buzzer beating shots in a dramatic overtime win in Game 5. However, it was not enough as the Lakers fell to the San Antonio Spurs in six games.
1995/96: The Lakers were already a top playoff contender in January when Magic Johnson made an unexpected return. Playing Forward Magic put up solid numbers (15.3 ppg, 8.5 rpg and 6.5 apg), but his presence seemed to upset the team’s chemistry. However, the Lakers would still manage to finish in second place with a 53-29 record. In the playoffs the Lakers would make a quick exit falling to the Houston Rockets in four games. Magic Johnson’s return would be short lived as he retired again after the season.
1996/97: The Lakers would go from solid playoff performer to true Championship contender when they signed Center Shaquille O’Neal prior to the start of the season. To make room for Shaq the Lakers traded Vlade Divac to the Charlotte Hornets for their first round draft pick a High School star named Kobe Bryant. Despite missing 31 games with a knee injury Shaq was an overwhelming presence in the middle as the Lakers battled all season for the division title before finishing in second place by one game with a 56-26 record. In the playoffs the Lakers would make quick work of the Portland Trailblazers advancing in four games. However, not even a 46-point effort in Game 1 by Shaq was enough as the Lakers lost the game and eventually the series in five games to the Utah Jazz.
1997/98: Kobe Bryant emerged as a star making the All-Star Game at the age of 19. Joining Kobe on the all-star roster was Shaquille O’Neal, Nick Van Exel, and Eddie Jones, as the Lakers lost the Division via tiebreaker with a 61-21 record. In the playoffs the Lakers ripped through the northwest beating the Portland Trailblazers in four games before beating the Division Champion Seattle Supersonics in six games. However, in the Western Finals the Lakers would hit a sour note as they were swept by the Utah Jazz in four straight.
1998/99: In a season which start was delayed for almost four months due to a lockout the Lakers get off to a slow start as the players openly feuded with each other. The feuding would eventually coast Coach Del Harris his job, as Kurt Rambis replaced him the middle of the season. Along with a new coach the Lakers signed eccentric star Dennis Rodman. The Lakers would go on to finis the season in second place with a 31-19 record. In the playoffs the Lakers would dispatch the Houston Rockets in four games. However, their problems would boil to the surface again as they are swept by the San Antonio Spurs in four straight games. The season would mark the end of basketball at The Forum, as the Lakers got set to move into a brand new state of the art arena for the new Millennium.
1999/00: In their first season at the Staples Center the Lakers hired Coach Phil Jackson with the hopes he could have the Lakers come together and play to their full potential after disappointing results in the playoffs. The moved would work right away as the Lakers stormed through the regular season with a league best 67-15 record, as Shaquille O’Neal was named MVP for the first time in his career. In the playoffs the Lakers got off to a shaky start nearly blowing a 2-0 series lead to the eighth seeded Sacramento Kings, before winning in five games. After knocking of the Phoenix Suns in five games the Lakers looked to be heading to the Finals with momentum holding a 3-1 series edge over the Portland Trailblazers. However the Blazers would force, a seventh Game. Things would get even bleaker for the Lakers as they trailed Game 7 at home by 13 points in the 4th Quarter. Facing disappointment again the Lakers would come storming back to win the game. In the Finals the Lakers would once again race out top a 3-1 lead, but they would only need six games to beat the Indiana Pacers, for their seventh Championship since moving to Los Angeles, as Shaquille O’Neal was named Finals MVP. Following the season General Manager Jerry West would leave the Lakers ending a 40-year relationship with the franchise.
2000/01: The Lakers struggled through most of the first half with injuries, as they found themselves in second Place most of the season. As the season drew to a close the Lakers began o get healthy and make a playoff push. The Lakers would lose an April 1st National Television match up at home to the New York Knicks that dropped them to 48-26. It would be the last loss the Lakers would suffer for two months as they ran of eight straight wins to close the season with a 56-26 record, earning first Place in the processes. In the playoffs the Lakers continued to roll sweeping the Portland Trailblazers, Sacramento Kings, and San Antonio Spurs on the way to the NBA Finals. With a 19-game winning streak the Lakers looked unstoppable as they faced the Philadelphia 76ers. However, the winning streak would come to an end as the 76ers took Game 1 at the Staples Center in overtime. However, it was a minor bump in the road as the Lakers won the next four games for their second straight NBA Championship as Shaquille O’Neal was named Finals MVP for a second year in a row with 33.0 ppg.
2001/02: The Lakers would come flying out of the gate winning 16 of their first 17 games. However, the Lakers would slow down and would fall out of first place as they managed only a 17-12 record in their next 29 games. The Lakers would go on to finish in second place with a 58-24 record, as Shaquille O’Neal hobbled through most of the second half with a foot injury. In the playoffs the Lakers would get off to a good start as they swept the Portland Trailblazers in three straight games, as Robert Horry nailed a series ending three pointer with 2.1 seconds left. In the second Round the Lakers continued their dominance as they beat the San Antonio Spurs in 5 games. In the Western Finals the Lakers would find themselves in a battle for their lives against the Sacramento Kings. After splitting the first two games in Sacramento the Lakers would drop a key third game at home. With time running out in Game 4 the Lakers were down by twp points when Robert Horry was in the right place and the right time for a buzzer beating three pointer to even the series. After losing Game 5 the Lakers won a Game 6 from the foul line to force a seventh game the Lakers would go on to win a back and forth battle in overtime to return to the NBA Finals. In the NBA Finals the Lakers would find things much easier as they faced an overmatched New Jersey Nets team. Shaquille was unstoppable as he averaged 36.3 ppg, for his third straight Finals MVP as the Lakers pulled the Three-peat. The Lakers third straight Championship was tempered by sadness when longtime announcer Chick Hearn passed away following the season. Hearn who has been behind the microphone since the Lakers had moved to Los Angeles, had his incredible 36-year 3,338 game streak ended when he entered the hospital for heart surgery. Hearn would return for the end of the season and playoffs, and was beginning to recover from both his heart surgery as well as a hip replacement, which he need after falling during recovery from his heart surgery. However, Hearn’s life would come to an end in August shortly after he suffered another fall, at his home.
2002/03: As Shaquille O’Neal recovered from off-season toe surgery the Lakers got off to a slow start losing nine of their first 12 games. When Shaq returned he was slow and out of shape as the Lakers continued to struggle, holding an 11-19 record after a 105-99 loss to the Sacramento Kings on Christmas. As January started the Lakers began to recover making the climb back to .500 and into the playoff race, finally climbing above .500 at 24-23 just before the All-Star Break. As the season reached the halfway point Kobe Bryant got red hot scoring at least 30 points in 16 straight games, including 9 straight with at least 40, as the Lakers won 15 of 18 games, on the way to another solid 50-32 season in which they finished in 2nd place. In the playoffs the Lakers were matched up against the Minnesota Timberwolves, and appeared to be in some trouble as they dropped two of the first three games and trailed heading into the 4th Quarter of Game 4. However the Lakers would rally to win Game, and didn’t look back taking the next two games as well to eliminate the T-Wolves in six games. In the second round the Lakers long season began to take its toll on them as they dropped the first two games on the road to the San Antonio Spurs losing Derek Fisher and Rick Fox to injuries in the process. However the Champion Lakers would not go down without a fight winning the next two games in LA to even the series. In Game 5 at San Antonio the Lakers were being blown out all game down as much as 24 points in the 3rd Quarter the Lakers made a late rally going on a 24-8 run to pull within two points in the final seconds, with a shot to win the game Robert Horry found himself in familiar position behind the three point line with a wide open three point shot. However, unlike the pervious year against the shot rimmed out as the Spurs held on to a 96-94 win. In Game 6 back at the Staples Center the Lakers just ran out of gas as the Spurs pulled away in the 4th quarter to end the Lakers three year Championship reign with a 110-82 victory.
2003/04: As the season started the Lakers appeared to have one of the best teams in the history of the NBA as they added future Hall of Famers Karl Malone and Gary Payton in the off-season. However, storm clouds began to gather around Kobe Bryant who found himself in the center of a highly publicized sexual assault trial in Colorado. Just before the start of the season the feud between Kobe, and Shaquille O’Neal also began to boil over with each taking turns at criticizing the other through the media, with Kobe threatening to exercise his option and leave via Free Agency following the season. The Lakers Fab Four got off to a great start as they won 18 of their first 21 games. However in December Karl Malone and Shaquille O’Neal both missed time due to injury while Gary Payton struggled to adapt to the Triangle offense, as the Lakers went 13-16 over the next two months into All-Star Weekend which was played at the Staples Center. After the All-Star Game where Shaq was named MVP the Lakers began to round into the team fans expected to dominate the entire season as Kobe Bryant playing while facing charges for sexual assault had a knack of playing his best when he had a court date and had to flay in just before the start or after the game had started. The Lakers would slowly climb their way back of the Pacific Division and on the last day of the season won the Division Title on a dramatic game winning shot with a record of 56-26. In the playoffs it was a match up of superstar centers as Shaquille O’Neal and Yao Ming of the Houston Rockets faced off. The match up would be a mismatch as Shaq dominated as the Lakers won in five games. In the second round the Lakers were matched up against the San Antonio Spurs who knocked them out of the playoffs the previous year. Once again the Spurs got the jump on the Lakers winning the first two games in San Antonio. As the series shifted to LA the Lakers bounced back winning Game 3 and Game 4. Game 5 in San Antonio would go back and forth as the Spurs took the lead with 0.4 seconds on a dramatic shot by Tim Duncan. Needing a miracle Derek Fisher got the inbound and launched a prayer that was nothing but net giving the Lakers a dramatic shot to give the Lakers a 74-73 win. The Lakers would go on to win the series in six games with an 88-76 win at home. In the Western Conference Finals the Lakers would face the Minnesota Timberwolves after splitting the first two games in Minnesota the Lakers took full control of the series by taking the next two games at home to establish a 3-1 series lead. After losing Game 5 on the road the Lakers completed their long strange trip to the NBA Finals by beating the Timberwolves 96-90 in Game 6.
2004 NBA Finals: Entering the NBA Finals the Lakers were expected to walk over the Detroit Pistons on the way to the NBA Championship they were built to win from the beginning of the season. However, the Lakers shot poorly in Game 1 as the Pistons took the opener in LA 87-75. In Game 2 the Lakers were in danger of losing again when Kobe Bryant nailed a three point shot at the end of regulation to force overtime where they would outscore the Pistons 10-2 for a 99-91 win that evened the series. However as the series shifted to Detroit the Lakers would go into self destruct mode as they were never in Game 3 losing 88-68 as the infighting which hung over the team all year threatened to rip them apart at the worst possible time. Rumors of Lakers ownership wanting to keep Kobe Bryant while letting both Shaq and Phil Jackson go hung over team as the triangle offense continued to frustrate Gary Payton. Game 4 would be more of the same as the Lakers lost 88-80 falling behind three games to one. In Game 5 the Pistons would close out the upset with a 100-87 win. With in a matter of hours the Lakers dynasty crumbled as Shaq demanded a trade and Phil Jackson resigned clearing the way for Kobe Bryant to resign, as Lakers ownership chose Kobe Bryant in the simmering feud between their two superstars. Kobe’s sexual assault case would fall apart in court as more evidence came into question the alleged victim’s mental state. Shaq would go on to be traded to the Miami Heat for Caron Butler, Lamar Odom, Brian Grant and a first-round draft pick. They would also unload Gary Payton to the Boston Celtics as Derek Fisher left via free agency and Rick Fox retired. The Lakers would go on to name Rudy Tomjanovich as the coach to replace Phil Jackson, but in the after math of the Lakers implosion would be simmering bad feelings as the Zen master ripped Kobe in a book and Shaq ripped Kobe in a rap, as the war of words between the Lakers former 1-2 punch heated up once Shaq joined the Heat.
2004/05: With Shaquille O’Neal gone, Kobe Bryant looked forward to basking alone in the spotlight in Los Angeles. The Lakers now coached by Rudy Tomjanovich got off to a decent start posing a 9-6 record in November. However, as December rolled around the Lakers began to show signs of a team in trouble as they played just .500 ball. In January the Lakers continued their mediocre play when their season began to fall apart as Kobe Bryant injured his ankle during a January 13th game against the Cleveland Cavaliers, missing the next month. The Lakers would start off strong without Kobe winning four of their first five games in his absence, but the toll would catch up with them as they lost three games in a row. On February 3rd the Lakers stood at 24-19, when suddenly Coach Rudy Tomjanovich resigned sighting stress and lingering health problems from a previous battle with cancer. Under his replacement, Interim Coach Frank Hamblen the bottom would fall out. The Lakers would win just ten more games the rest of the season plunging out of playoff contention. In April the Lakers would win just one of 11 games as they ended up tied with the Golden State Warriors for last place with a 34-48 record. It was the first time in 11 years and just the fourth time since moving to Los Angeles that the Lakers missed the playoffs. Following the season the Lakers trying to pick up the pieces mended the fences between Kobe Bryant and Phil Jackson, as the Zen Master returned to the bench to Coach the Lakers.
2005/06: A rejuvenated Phil Jackson returned to the Lakers bench as Kobe Bryant came out of the gate shooting, scoring more then 30 points in nine of the Lakers first 13 games. Despite the hot hand from Bryant the Lakers struggled going 5-8 in their first month. Kobe continued to shoot the lights out in December as the Lakers started to turn things around winning 10 of 16 to climb above .500. Kobe Bryant would top himself in January as scored 40 points in four straight games, including a 50-point game against the Los Angeles Clippers on January 7th. Twelve days later Kobe would score 51 in a 118-109 loss to the Sacramento Kings. A day later he would score 37 points on the road against the Phoenix Suns. However, all games would pale in comparison to a Sunday Night game on January 22nd at the Staples Center as Kobe scorched the Toronto Raptors for 81 points as the Lakers won 122-104. Kobe’s 81 would go down as the second highest scoring game in NBA history, 19 behind Wilt Chamberlain’s historic 100-point performance. Kobe Bryant would go on to lead the NBA in scoring at 35.4 ppg as the Lakers finished in third place with a 45-37 record that returned them to the playoffs. In the playoffs the Lakers would face the second seeded Suns. After splitting the first two games in Phoenix the Lakers took control of the series with a solid 99-92 win in Game 3. Two days later they would get a 3-1 series lead in dramatic fashion as Kobe Bryant nailed a dramatic shot at the end of regulation to force overtime where he would beat the buzzer again for a 99-98 victory. After losing Game 5 in Phoenix, the Lakers were out gunned by the shooting Suns losing Game 6 in Overtime 126-118, as a high scoring five minute extra session saw the Lakers outscored 21-13, as Tim Thomas became deadly from 3-point range. The Lakers would never be in Game 7 as they fell behind 32-15 after the first quarter and were blown out 121-90.
2006/07: Despite Kobe Bryant starting the season on the bench overcoming off-season knee surgery the Lakers got off to a strong start winning their first three games, including an opening night win over the Phoenix Suns. Kobe would return quickly and the Lakers would lead the Pacific Division early as the started the season 15-6. As the New Year began the Lakers strong start began to show signs of weakening as they fell out of first place. Still into January the Lakers had a solid record at 26-13, winning a game in San Antonio against the Spurs 100-96 on January 17th. However, the following night the Lakers would fall hard in Dallas, losing to the Mavericks 114-95, beginning a stretch where the Lakers did not play well. As the trade deadline approached there were rumors of a possible deal to acquire Jason Kidd from the New Jersey Nets. However, the Lakers were unwilling to part with budding star Andrew Bynum. This did not sit well with Kobe Bryant, who wanted help to take the Lakers further in the playoffs. Perhaps he saw the writing on the wall as the Lakers lost six straight in February, and then lost seven in a row in March, as there once secure playoff footing became tenuous at best. Sitting at 33-32 on March 16th, the Lakers rallied from a 12-point deficit in the final four minutes to beat the Portland Trail Blazers in overtime 116-111, as Kobe Bryant scored 65 points. Two nights later it was all Kobe again, as he scored 50 in a 109-102 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves. Not to be out done, Kobe would score 60 and 50, to record the second longest streak of 50 point games in NBA history, as the Lakers got back on the winning track. However, in March the Lakers would stumble again falling to .500 at 40-40 win two games to go. Fortunately it was Kobe Bryant to the rescue again as he scored 50 points as the Lakers secured a playoff spot with a 109-98 win over the Seattle Supersonics. The Lakers would go on to finish with a 42-40 record, earning a rematch with the Phoenix Suns. This time there would be no 3-1 lead, as the Suns jumped out early winning the first two games. With Kobe Bryant scoring 45 points the Lakers managed a 95-89 win in Game 3 at the Staples Center. However, the Suns were too strong and the Lakers had too many flaws, as the series ended in five games with the Suns on top. Following the season an unhappy Kobe Bryant expressed a desire to be traded. Then he rescinded his trade demand in a bipolar summer of sulking over the state of the Lakers, which would see Kobe Bryant go between asking to be traded, to asking the Lakers to trade for Kevin Garnett, to demand who the Lakers get in return if he was dealt away.
2007/08: After an off-season full of distractions, Kobe Bryant came to training camp more committed to being a team player, and putting his past selfishness behind him. The newly focused Kobe, would help the Lakers get off to a strong start as they were locked in a battle with the Phoenix Suns, for first place in the Pacific Division with a 19-11 record, which was helped by a strong December, in which the Lakers posted a 10-4 record. The Lakers would hit some rough waters in January as Alex Bynum was sidelined with a knee injury. With the trade deadline approaching the Lakers, vastly improved their team acquiring Pau Gasol from the Memphis Grizzlies for Kwame Brown, Javaris Crittenton, Aaron McKie, the draft rights to Marc Gasol (Pau’s Brother), and two first round draft picks. The deal immediately made the Lakers a serious force in the Western Conference as Gasol gave the Lakers that second all-star to go along with Kobe Bryant. In his first full month in Los Angeles the Lakers sprang to the top of the Western Conference, while pulling away from the Suns, by winning 13-of-15 games, highlighted by a ten game winning streak. With eight teams in the Western Conference winning 50 games, the Lakers needed Gasol and Kobe to mesh right away, and thanks to his changed attitude the Lakers were successful as Kobe Bryant captured the NBA MVP award, for doing the one thing he was not able to do previously, make the team around him better by distributing the ball, which helped him raise his own level of play. The Lakers would go on to capture the top seed in the West, with a 57-25 record, as they won eight of their last nine games. In the first round the Lakers were matched up against the Denver Nuggets. The series would be no contest as the Lakers exposed the Nuggets lack of defense, with a four game sweep, as they won the first three games, by steadily increasing double digit margins, before closing the series with a 107-101 victory. In the second round the Lakers appeared to be cruising again as they took the first two games against the Utah Jazz by double digits. However, the Jazz would defend their home court taking the next two games in Salt Lake City. Game 5 would demonstrate just how much Kobe Bryant’s game had changed, as the Lakers won 111-104 despite their MVP not scoring in the fourth quarter, as Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom led the way down the stretch with Kobe Bryant choosing to pass rather then attempt shots against the Jazz defense, which was focused on stopping him. It would be a different story in Game 6 as Kobe scored 12 of his game high 34 points in the fourth quarter as the Lakers closed out the series with a 108-105 win, with standing a late charge on the road. In the Western Conference Finals the Lakers were matched up against the defending champion San Antonio Spurs. After falling behind early in Game 1, Kobe Bryant led the way with 25 second half points as the Lakers took the opener 89-85. The Lakers would find things much easier in Game 2, winning 101-71 to take a 2-0 lead to San Antonio. After losing Game 3, by 19, the Lakers took a 3-1 series lead, by handing the Spurs their first loss at home in the playoffs as Kobe Bryant scored 28 points with 10 rebounds in a 93-91 win. Back at the Staples Center for Game 5, LA became party central as the Lakers dynamic duo of Bryant and Gasol led the Lakers back to the NBA Finals with a 100-92 win, as Kobe scored a game high 39 points, with Pau Gasol grabbing 19 rebounds.
2008 NBA Finals: In the Finals the Lakers found a familiar foe in the Boston Celtics, who they were facing with the NBA Championship on the line for the 11th time in 50 years. However, it was the first time they were matched in the NBA Finals since 1987 when Magic Johnson got the best of Larry Bird in six games. Things would not start off well for the Lakers, who lost the opener 98-88, as they were unable to find an answer for Paul Pierce who scored 15 points in the third quarter. In Game 2 the Lakers again found themselves unable to stop Pierce who scored 28 points to lead the Lakers to a 24-point lead in the fourth quarter. The Lakers would cut the lead to two as they attempted to make a historic comeback. However, they would come up just short as they lost 108-102 despite scoring 41 points in the final period. As the series shifted to LA, it was all Kobe, as the Lakers took Game 3, with their MVP scoring 36 points 87-81. The Lakers appeared to be cruising to evening the series as they led Game 4 by 18 points at halftime and by as much as 24 points during the second quarter. However, the Celtics bench helped inspire a stunning comeback as the Lakers were outscored 57-33 in the second half, losing 97-91 to fall behind in the series 3-1. The Lakers would defend their home court with a 103-98 win in Game 5, but there would be no stopping the Celtics as the series shifted back to Boston for Game 6, as the Celtics handed the Lakers one of the worst losses in NBA Finals history to win their record 17th NBA Championship 131-92, of those 17 titles, nine had come at the expense of the Lakers.
2008/09: After losing to the Boston Celtics in the NBA Finals, the Lakers came flying out of the gate fast, winning their first seven games, on the way to an impressive 14-1 start. The Lakers continued their strong play in December as they closed 2008 with a 25-5 record, including a 92-83 win over the Celtics on Christmas Day. The Lakers would lead the pack in the Western Conference wire-to-wire as they posted a 65-17 record. Leading the way once again was Kobe Bryant who finished second in MVP voting, while leading the Lakers with 26.8 ppg. Highlighting Kobe’s season was an All-Star MVP, which he shared with Shaquille O’Neal who was now playing with Phoenix Suns and a record 61 point performance at Madison Square Garden at the New York Knicks on February 2nd. In the playoffs the Lakers began their quest with a five game conquest of the Utah Jazz. In the second round the Lakers would face the Houston Rockets, and would suffer a setback in the opener, losing 100-92 in Game 1. The Lakers would recover to win the next two games, but the Rockets continued to give the Lakers all they could handle winning Game 4 to even the series. The Lakers would bounce back to win Game 5 at the Staples Center 118-78. However, they could not finish the Rockets in six games, as the Rockets playing without Yao Ming forced a seventh game with 95-80 win. In Game 7 the Lakers would prove to be the better team, winning 89-70 as Pau Gasol scored 21 points, with 18 rebounds. In the Western Conference Finals the Lakers would face the Denver Nuggets. While Kobe Bryant was racking up the points early, the Nuggets were giving the Lakers a fight, as the teams split the first four games. Once again with a key Game 5 in LA the Lakers used home court to their advantage, winning 103-94. However, unlike their series against the Rockets the Lakers would not waste time closing out the series, as they slammed the Nuggets 119-92 in Game 6 to reach the NBA Finals for the second straight season. All season the Lakers appeared to be on a collision course with the Cleveland Cavaliers, setting up a showdown between the two biggest starts in the NBA Kobe Bryant and LeBron James. However, the Cavs who posted the best record in the NBA stumbled in the Eastern Conference Finals leaving the Lakers to face to Orlando Magic with the NBA Championship on the line. Early on it was clear the Magic were overmatched as the Lakers quickly grabbed control of the series with a 100-75 win in Game 1, as Kobe scored 40 points in the opener. The Magic would send Game 2 to overtime, but the result would be the same, as the Lakers grabbed a 2-0 series lead with a 101-96 victory. As the series shifted to Orlando, the Magic would grab a 108-104 win in Game 3, but the Lakers would bounce back to win Game 4 in overtime 99-91 as Derek Fisher tied the game with a three point shot with 4.6 seconds left, while nailing another in overtime with 31.3 seconds remaining to give the Lakers a three games to one stranglehold. The Lakers would not look back as they closed the series with a 99-86 win in Game 5 to win their tenth NBA Championship since moving to Los Angeles, with Kobe Bryant winning the NBA Finals MVP.
2009/10: In their 50th season in Los Angeles, the Lakers were once again standing on top of the world as they were defending NBA Champions for the tenth time since the move and 15th time overall including their time in Minneapolis. As typical champions feel they wanted more and to fill this goal the Lakers added a strong defensive presence by signing Free Agent Ron Artest. The regular season was a breeze for the Lakers, as they got off to a strong start, winning 23 of their first 27 games before suffering a 102-87 loss to the LeBron James Cleveland Cavaliers on Christmas Day at the Staples Center. The Lakers would hold the top spot in the Western Conference most of the season, though a late slump due to some injuries to role players like Andrew Bynum, Sasha Vujacic and Luke Walton saw the big lead they built early shrink a bit. The Lakers would end up finishing the season with a solid 57-25 record two games better than the Dallas Mavericks for the best record in the West. In the first round of the NBA Playoffs the Lakers faced the Oklahoma City Thunder, a young talented team led by scoring champ Kevin Durant. The first two games at Staples Center were won by the Lakers but they were closer than expected as the upstart Thunder proved to be a tough match up for the Lakers. The Thunder would end up evening the series by winning the middle two games of the series in Oklahoma City as Durant blossomed into one of the NBA’s elite players with all eyes on the Lakers right from the start of the playoffs. As the series shifted back to Los Angeles for Game 5, the Lakers re-established control with a 111-87 win, as Pau Gasol had a monster game with 25 points and 11 rebounds. The Lakers would go on to win the series in six games as they edged the Thunder 95-94 in Oklahoma City, with Gasol rebounding and tipping in a shot by Kobe Bryant with 0.5 seconds left to win the game. In the second round the Lakers would find things considerably easier as they swept the injury plagued Utah Jazz in four straight games, as Kobe Bryant scored at least 30 points in all four games. In the Western Conference Finals against the Phoenix Suns, the Lakers looked to be cruising to the NBA Finals as they easily won the first two games at Staples Center. However, as the series shifted to Phoenix, the Suns got back in the series with a dominant performance from Amare Stoudamire in Game 3 as they captured the next two games to even the series 2-2. The Suns and Lakers battled in Game 5 with both seeking to gain the upper hand, with the game tied late Kobe Bryant attempted a game winning three pointer, but the shot was off the mark and rebounded by Ron Artest who throw up an ugly looking layup that banked in as time expired to give the Lakers a dramatic 103-101 win. The Lakers would close out the series in six games as Kobe Bryant scored 37 points in a 111-103 win in Phoenix.
2010 NBA Finals: In the NBA Finals the Los Angeles Lakers were matched up against the Boston Celtics for the 12th time. This match up in the past has not been kind to the Lakers, as the Celtics won 9-of-the-previous-11 match ups. The two times the Lakers won in 1985 and 1987 helped established the Showtime Lakers as one of the best teams in NBA history, and locked up Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as two of the best clutch performers in NBA Playoff history. Winning this series would do the same for Kobe Bryant, as it will help the Lakers erase the bad taste in their mouths from the 2008 Finals. Kobe started strong scoring 30 points as the Lakers took Game 1 at Staples Center 102-89. The Celtics would rebound to take Game 2 as the series went to Boston even at a game apiece. In Boston, the Lakers got some clutch shooting from Derek Fisher to hold off a Celtics rally and regain control of the series with a 91-84 victory. However, the Celtics with homecourt on their side would win the next two games to hold a 3-2 series edge as the series returned to Los Angeles. Needing a win to force Game 7, the Lakers put forth an incredible defensive effort holding the Celtics to just 67 points as they won 89-67 to set a up a one game takes it all finale. Game 7 was one of the second most watched game in NBA history as the two most successful franchises met with the title to be decided. Despite playing without their enforcer Kendrick Perkins, the Celtics got off to a fast start holding a 23-14 lead after the 1st Quarter. The Lakers would slowly chip away at the lead before taking over the game in the 4th Quarter. Kobe Bryant struggled from the field most of the game, but had a strong night on the boards with 15 rebounds. Rebounding was key for the Lakers, as Pau Gasol had a game high 18 as the Lakers had 23 offensive rebounds as they went on to win the game 83-79 to win their second NBA Championship in a row. Once again it was Kobe Bryant who was named NBA Finals MVP.
2010/11: Coming off back to back NBA Championships, the Lakers looked to three-peat again, as Coach Phil Jackson at the start of the season hinted he was going to retire at the end of the season. There would be few changes in the roster, as Steve Blake and Theo Ratliff joined the team, as Jordan Farmar said good bye. The Lakers would begin the season with a 112-110 win over the Houston Rockets at Staples Center, as Pau Gasol scored 29 points with 11 boards to lead the way. The Lakers would win their first eight games, as they had the look of a champion early, starting 13-2. However, they would not be able to keep up the pace as they ended November with three straight losses. The Lakers would lose a forth straight to start December, but again had a strong month posting a 10-5 record. The only disappointment was a 96-80 Christmas Day loss at home to the Miami Heat. Consistency was a hallmark of the Lakers, as they again posted a 10-5 record in January, as they sat atop the Pacific Division all season. At the All-Star Break the Lakers held a record of 38-19. However, as the break approached the Lakers would play their worst ball of the season, losing their last three games, including an inexcusable 104-99 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers, a team the Lakers had beaten 112-57 at Staples Center a month earlier and a team that was fresh off a record 26 game losing streak. At the All-Star Game at Staples Center, Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol were chosen to start as Kobe collected his fourth All Star Game MVP award with 37 points and 14 boards. Coach Phil Jackson would concede the Lakers likely could not catch the San Antonio Spurs for the best record in the West, even as they ended the Spurs 22 game home winning streak with a 99-83 win on March 5th, as the Lakers started the second half with an eight game winning streak, though the Lakers would make a run as they won 12 of 13 games in March. However, the Spurs would hang on at the end, as the Lakers earned the second spot with a record of 57-25, as Lamar Odom became the first Laker to win the NBA’s sixth man award. In the playoffs against the New Orleans Hornets, the Lakers got off to a bad start losing their first series opener at home in 15 years, despite a solid 34 point game from Kobe Bryant. The Lakers would rebound to with an 87-78 win in Game 2. After splitting the next two games in New Orleans, the Lakers grabbed control if the series with a 106-90 win in Game 5. They would go on to swat the Hornets in six games, winning the finale 98-80. Against the Dallas Mavericks in the second round the Lakers looked to avoid dropping another series opener at Staples Center, as they held a nine point lead at the half. However, the Mavs would rally and win the game 96-94, as Dirk Nowitzki dominated the paint, scoring 28 points with 14 rebounds. The Lakers would find themselves in further trouble after losing 93-81 in Game 2. As the series shifted to Dallas, the Lakers looked on the verge of getting back on track, as they held an 86-80 lead in the fourth quarter. However, the Mavericks closed the game on an 18-6 run to win 98-92 to take a commanding 3-0 series lead. In Game 4 the Lakers would quickly unravel as the Mavericks cruised to a 122-86 win to complete the sweep as Lamar Odom and Andrew Bynum were ejected with flagrant fouls. Bynum would also get a five game suspension for his hit on J.J. Barrera, as Lakers legend Magic Johnson called it the worst he has ever seen the Lakers play. Following the game, Phil Jackson made it official by announcing his retirement.
2011/12: As the lockout came to an end the Lakers looked to make a big deal to regain the mantle of the team to beat in the NBA. They had a multi team deal worked out to pick up Chris Paul from the New Orleans Hornets. However, the NBA rejected the trade. Chris Paul would find his way to L.A., but it would be with the rival Clippers who worked out a deal with the Hornets after the Lakers trade was blocked. The decision to void the deal was controversial as LaMar Odom who was included in the deal would force a trade with the Lakers sending the league’s top sixth man to the Dallas Mavericks for a first round draft pick. The deal would leave the Lakers with a bench as they started the season against the Chicago Bulls on Christmas Day, with new Coach Mike Brown. The opener would bring frustration to the Lakers as they lost 88-87, as they dropped their first two games of the season. Early in the season, the Lakers established a strong home court edge as they held a held a 15-2 record at home Staples Center games in the first half of the season. However, on the road the Lakers had their issues as they lost 14 of their first 20 road games. Battling the Clippers for the Pacific Division Championship, the Lakers looked to get younger and more athletic at the trade deadline, as they sent Luke Walton and Jason Kapono to the Cleveland Cavaliers for Ramon Sessions and Christian Eyenga, while Derek Fisher was sent to the Houston Rockets for Jordan Hill. With the deals, the Lakers would finish strong capturing the Pacific Division with a record of 41-25, one game better than the rival Clippers, as Sessions average 12.7 ppg in 23 games after the deal. Leading the Lakers again, was Kobe Bryant who battled Kevin Durant for the scoring title, finishing the season with 27.9 ppg, just 0.1 less than Duant of the Oklahoma City Thunder. During the season, Kobe moved past former teammate Shaquile O’Neal into fifth on the all time scoring list, became the youngest player to score 29,000 points in his career. It was also a strong season for Andrew Bynum who was healthy all season, and was selected to start in the All-Star Game for the first time, averaging 18.7 ppg and 11.8 rebounds per game, while Pau Gasol also had a strong season averaging 17.4 ppg and 10.4 rpg.
2012 Playoffs: As the season wound down the Lakers would go through some controversy as Ron Artest who legally changed his name to Metta World Peace clobbered James Harden of the Oklahoma City Thunder in the penultimate game of the season. World Peace would be suspended seven games for his violent act, keeping him out of the first round of the playoffs. Despite missing World Peace, the Lakers would get off to a good beating the Denver Nuggets in the opener 103-88, as Kobe Bryant had a game high 31 points, while Andrew Bynum recorded 10 blocks, tying an NBA playoff record set by Mark Eaton and Hakeem Olajuwon. Bynum also had ten points and 12 rebounds for a triple double. The Lakers would also take Game 2, 104-100 with Kobe adding another 38 points. After losing Game 3 in Denver 99-84, the Lakers appeared to deliver the knockout blow, winning 92-88 to take a 3-1 series lead. However, the Lakers suffered a Staple Center letdown, losing 102-99 in Game 5, the Nuggets would also win Game 6 as the Lakers found themselves in an winner take all Game 7 in the first round. Fortunately the Lakers would see a return of Metta World Peace, who scored 15 points as Pau Gasol had 23 points with Andrew Bynum getting 18 boards as the Lakers survived with a 96-87 win. With no time to rest, the Lakers faced the Oklahoma City Thunder and suffered an ugly 119-90 loss in Game 1 of the second round. With a strong defensive effort, the Lakers appeared to be on the way to evening the series, holding a 75-68 lead in the final minutes of Game 2. However, the Lakers would collapse down the stretch as the Thunder won the game 77-75 with a 9-0 game ending run. The series would shift to Los Angeles as Staples Center played host to busiest weekend in the history of the Staples Center, with the Lakers hosting the Thunder, the Clippers hosting the San Antonio Spurs, all while the Los Angeles Kings on the way to winning the Stanley Cup faced the Phoenix Coyotes in the NHL’s Western Conference Finals. The Lakers kicked it off in style edging the Thunder 99-96. However, one night later the Lakers had another fourth quarter collapse as the Thunder closed the game on a 25-9 run to win Game 4, 103-100 to take a 3-1 series lead. The Thunder would go on to win the series in five games, taking the finale 106-90.
2012/13: There was a sense of excitement as the season began for the Lakers, as the off-season saw them land another All-Star Center as they acquired Dwight Howard from the Orlando Magic in a four team deal that saw Andrew Bynum go to the Philadelphia 76ers. The Lakers also signed two time MVP Steve Nash. However, from the start of the season the Lakers lacked chemistry, dropping four of their first five games. This led to the quick firing of Coach Mike Brown. Brown would later be replaced by Mike D’Antoni, whose Lakers debut was delayed due to knee replacement surgery. In the interim Bernie Bickerstaff led the Lakers. D’Antoni would make his debut on November 20th leading the Lakers to a 95-90 win over the Brooklyn Nets; the win catapulted the Lakers over .500 at 6-5. However, the Lakers would drop their next two games as they had trouble staying over .500. The Lakers would finish November at 8-8, and would go into the New Year at 15-15 after splitting 14 games in December. Through it all it was apparent that Dwight Howard was unhappy and not getting along with Kobe Bryant, while Steve Nash had trouble staying healthy. January would bring more frustration for the Lakers as they started the 2013 with six straight losses, as they dropped all seven games away from Staples Center and found themselves in danger of not even making the playoffs as the season reached the midway point. The Lakers began to play better in February, winning five of eight games heading into the All-Star break. On February 18th the day after the All-Star Game in Houston, the Lakers would lose their biggest backer when longtime Owner Jerry Buss died after an 18 month battle with cancer. Buss who purchased the Lakers in 1979, helped make them one of the premier franchises in sports, winning ten NBA Championships. The Lakers would wear the initials J.B. the remainder of the season as they dedicated the second half to Jerry Buss, whose son would inherit the team’s ownership. The Lakers would take five of six games out of the break, as they returned to .500 on March 3rd. After a loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Lakers won their next four games to go back over .500 for the second time in the season. This time they would stay above .500 as they made a late charge back into playoff contention. Helping to lead the Lakers resurgence was Kobe Bryant who was playing some of the best basketball of his career as he had back to back games with more than 40 points and at least 10 assists. As the Lakers entered April they were in a dog fight for the final playoff spots in the Western Conference as Kobe Bryant was nearly playing 48 minutes a night. On April 10th in a key 113-106 win over the Portland Trail Blazers, Kobe scored 47 points two nights later he would score 34 as the Lakers edged the Golden State Warriors 118-116. However, in the game’s closing seconds Kobe Byrant’s legs gave out on him as the wear and tear of a long season and long career saw him rupture his Achilles’ Tendon. The Lakers would win their final two games without Kobe to make the playoffs with a 45-37 record.
2013 Playoffs: In the playoffs the Lakers would face the San Antonio Spurs, as Kobe Bryant was home recovering for his Achilles’ surgery. The Lakers, who had a season of ups and downs, would be no match for the Spurs without their MVP, losing the opener 91-79 as the Spurs would sweep the series in four straight games, winning each game by at least 11 points. Following the season the Lakers would lose Dwight Howard to Free Agency, as he turned down the Lakers contract offer and signed with the Houston Rockets, stating he was never comfortable in Los Angeles.
2013/14: The Lakers began the season with many questions, as Kobe Bryant was not ready to start the season, while recovering from his Achilles injury. Despite the absence of Kobe the Lakers began the season with a win, beating the Los Angeles Clippers 116-103. Despite, Kobe Bryant missing the first 19 games, the Lakers remained competitive, posting a 10-9 record. Kobe would make his season debut on December 8th as the Lakers were stunned by the Toronto Raptors 106-94 at Staples Center. Kobe Bryant’s return would last just six games, with him averaging 13.8 points, 6.3 assists, and 4.3 rebounds before he suffered a lateral tibial plateau fracture in his left knee that would sideline him the remainder of the season. The loss of Kobe Bryant seemed to suck the life out of the Lakers as they lost their next six games and entered the New Year with a record of 13-19.The Lakers would win just three games in January falling helplessly out of the playoff race, as they suffered a franchise worst seven game losing streak. The losses would continue to compile in the second half, as Lakers players missed 319 games due to injury, which led the NBA, and the team used 35 different starting lineups. Besides Kobe Bryant playing in just six games, Steve Nash was limited to 15 games, while Pau Gasol missed 22 games. In one game alone Steve Blake, Jordan Hill, and Jodie Meeks also suffered injuries as the Lakers were beaten by the Minnesota Timberwolves 109-99 on February 4th. Two weeks later, the Lakers would trade Steve Blake to the Golden State Warriors for Blake for MarShon Brooks and Kent Bazemore. In the final months of the season, the Lakers often dressed just 10 or fewer healthy players, refusing to replace injured players for a few extra wins in a lost season. On March 6th, the Lakers lost to the Los Angeles Clippers, 142-94, with the 48-point margin being the most one-sided defeat in Lakers history. It was part of a three-game stretch during which the Lakers allowed an average of 136 points per game, the worst in their history. The Lakers would suffer a second seven game losing streak in April, as their 27-55 record was the worst since moving to Los Angeles.
2014/15: After missing the playoffs the Los Angeles Lakers looked like a franchise that was heading for a long dry spell, as the retirement of Steve Nash, the departure of Pao Gasol and the body breaking down of Kobe Bryant made them one of the worst teams in the NBA. The Lakers going into the year with new Coach Byron Scott had not gone back to back seasons without making the playoffs in nearly 40 years, if that trend were to continue the Lakers would need a super human effort from Kobe Bryant. Making matters worse, the Lakers top draft pick Julius Randle, chosen with the seventh overall pick out of Kentucky broke his leg in the 108-90 season opening loss to the Houston Rockets. The Lakers would drop their first five games, as they got off to the worst start in franchise history at 1-9. Kobe Bryant for his part was having a solid season, coming off Achilles and knee injuries, becoming the oldest player to score 30 points and post a Triple Double, while moving up to third on the scoring list. However, a torn rotator cuff would end his season after 35 games, after averaging a team best 22.3 points and 5.6 assists per game, while adding 5.7 rebounds per game. Even with All-Star type numbers from Kobe, the Lakers were already out of the playoff running when his season ended on January 25th at 12-33. After losing Kobe Bryant the Lakers were nothing short of a disaster as they went on to finish with the worst record in franchise history at 21-61.
2015/16: Kobe Bryant the face of the Los Angeles Lakers most recent glory years announced early in the season that he was going to retire following the season, stating that even though he still had the desire to play that his body was worn down and no longer able to handle the rigors of an 82-game NBA season after 20 years of playing at a high level. This would turn the season into a season long farewell tour for Kobe Bryant as he received appreciation as one of the best players of era. While Kobe Bryant represented the Lakers past, D’Angelo Russell represented their future. Chosen with the second overall pick in the NBA Draft out of Ohio State, Russell had a solid rookie season averaging 13.2 points per game. Though there were plenty of growing pains with their new star guard as he raised the ire of his teammates when he posted a video of Nick Young talking about hooking up with women that were not his fiancé. As the season drew to a close however, Russell appeared to be settling in and leading the NBA game as he had a terrific second half, scoring 39 points the best output by a rookie all season during a 107-101 win over the Brooklyn Nets at Staples Center on March 1st. Despite the best efforts of the legend and the kid, the Lakers were once again one of the worst teams in the NBA, as they set a franchise record for losses for the second straight season, posting a record of 17-65. The final game of the season at Staples Center though would be a curtain call for the ages by Kobe Bryant, as the future Hall of Famer had one the best games of his career scoring 60 points and blowing up Twitter as the Lakers beat the Utah Jazz 101-96. Following the season the Lakers would cut ties with Coach Byron Scott, hiring Luke Walton who while Steve Kerr was recovering from back issues helped the Golden State Warriors get off to the best start in the history of the NBA.
2016/17: The post Kobe Bryant era began for the Los Angeles Lakers with a new coach as Luke Walton who had played Lakers for nine seasons was hired after success as an assistant coach with the Golden State Warriors. With the second overall pick, the Lakers selected Brandon Ingram out of Duke. However, the youngest player in the draft struggled at times to adjust to life in the NBA averaging 9.4 points per game. The Lakers did show some positives early in the season, as they went 10-10 over their first 20 games. In December, the Lakers saw the wheels come off, as they lost eight straight and posted a record of 2-14 for the worst month in franchise history. The New Year did not bring good tidings for the Purple and Gold as the Lakers lost all six games away from Staples Center, and found themselves with a 17-34 record and out of playoff contention. Things would not get better in February or March as the losses continued to mount for the Lakers, including a second eight-game skid. Meanwhile in the front office a family feud would become a hostile takeover, as Jeanie Buss wrestled control of the team from her brother Jim. Upon taking over Jeanie Buss fired longtime general manager Mitch Kupchak, leading to the return of Magic Johnson who was named President of Basketball Operations, while former super-agent Rob Pelinka was named General Manager. The Lakers ended the season on a positive note, winning five games in April as they posted a record of 26-56. D’Angelo Russell was the Lakers full season leading scorer with 15.6 points per game, while Lou Williams was averaging 18.6 ppg before he was traded to the Houston Rockets at the trade deadline.
2017/18: As Rob Pelinka began his first full season as General Manager, it was clear the Los Angeles Lakers were focusing on the future as they spent the entire season restructuring contracts to make a run at singing a major star player or two. This meant trading away D’Angelo Russell, who never lived up to expectations after being selected with the second overall pick in 2015. The Lakers had the second overall pick again in 2017 as they used it to pick Lonzo Ball out of UCLA. The drafting of Ball caused more headaches for the Lakers, as it brought along the entire family, including Lavar Ball, who was often critical of Luke Walton’s play calling. Ball had his flashes, but the Lakers faded out of the race early, suffering a nine-game losing streak as the New Year began. As often is the case with young teams, the Lakers had stretches where they looked like a contender, as they won seven of ten games in February. Those stretches did not come often enough as the Lakers missed the playoffs for the fifth straight season, posting a record of 35-47. The most positive development was that three young players, Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, and Julius Randle all averaged a team-best 16.1 points per game.
2018/19: All of the restructurings paid off for the Los Angeles Lakers when they signed LeBron James to a four-year contract worth $154 million. Looking to turn things around quickly, the Lakers surrounded LeBron with veterans like Rajon Rondo, Lance Stephenson, JaVale McGee, Michael Beasley, and Tyson Chandler, while hoping for the continued development of Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, and Kyle Kuzma. Despite an early stumble that saw them drop their first three games, the Lakers appeared to be well on their way to returning to the playoffs as they held a record of 20-14 following a 127-101 win over the Golden State Warriors on Christmas. However, in their win at the Oracle Arena, LeBron James suffered a groin injury that would force him to miss the next 17 games. LeBron returned to action on January 31st, as the Lakers were still hovering near .500, narrowly missing a triple-double with 24 points, 14 rebounds, and nine assists as the Lakers won the battle of Los Angeles against the Clippers 123-120 in overtime. The Lakers’ injury problems did not end when LeBron James returned as Rondo, Ball, and Ingram all missed significant time. February would also bring hard times to the Lakers who only played two home games at Staples Center, as they went 1-6 on the road and dropped below .500. Exasperating the struggles was rumored deal that would see the Lakers land Anthony Davis from the New Orleans Pelicans, with Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram being shipped out in return. The deal would not get done before the trade deadline but seemed to cast a shadow over the remainder of the season. As March began, the Lakers began to unravel as they dropped 10-of-11 games and fell out of playoff contention. Throughout the month, there was finger-pointing as it seemed a wall had developed between LeBron James and the rest of his team. The Lakers suffered as a result and missed the playoffs again with a record of 37-45 as LeBron James finished with 27.4 ppg, but clearly hungered for more star power around him. As the season came to an end, Magic Johnson stepped down as team president, while coach Luke Walton was fired.
©MMXX Tank Productions. Stats researched by Frank Fleming, all information, and team names are property of the National Basketball Association. This site is not affiliated with the Los Angeles Lakers of the NBA. This site is maintained for research purposes only. All logos used on this page were from Chris Creamer’s Sports Logos Page.
Page created on October 22, 2002. Last updated on February 5, 2020 at 11:20 pm ET.