1947/48: In the National Basketball League, a fledgling professional league based in the Midwest the first year Minneapolis Lakers benefit when another rival league known as the Professional Basketball League of America folds. The expansion Lakers who already had a solid roster with forward Jim Pollard and playmaker Herm Schaefer added Center George Mikan, who quickly became the most dominant player in the sport. With Mikan leading the way, the first-year Lakers Coached by John Kundla easily won their division by 13 games with a 43-17 record. In the playoffs, the Lakers continued to roll beating the Oshkosh All-Stars 3 games to 1. The Lakers would go to sweep the Tri-cities Blackhawks in 2 straight to reach the Finals. In the finals, the Lakers continued their dominance beating the Rochester Royals 3 games to 1. Following the season, the Lakers would move to the BAA as the two rival leagues began a merger that would form the NBA.
1948/49: The Lakers move to the BAA was a success as they finished in 2nd place in the Western Division with a 44-16 record, as George Mikan led the league with 28.3 ppg. In the playoffs, the Lakers continued their dominance sweeping the Chicago Stags and Rochester Royals in consecutive two-game series to make the Finals. In the Finals, the Lakers would jump out to a 3-0 lead before beating the Washington in Capitols to win the BAA Championship.
1949/50: With the NBL’s last teams joining the BAA, the league changes its name to the more familiar NBA, and the Lakers continued to roll, finishing tied for 1st place in the Central Division with a 51-17 record. Once again, the Lakers breezed through the playoffs sweeping the Chicago Stags, Fort Wayne Pistons, and Anderson Packers in 2 games series. In the first-ever NBA Finals, the Lakers would win their 3rd straight Championship by beating the Syracuse Nationals in 6 games.
1950/51: With the NBA reducing to 11 teams, the Lakers continued to dominate winning the Western Division with a 44-24 record. In the playoffs, the Lakers need a full three games to squeeze past the Indianapolis Olympians in the first round. In the Western Finals, the Lakers took Game 1 but had their reign ended when the Rochester Royals came back to win the next three games.
1951/52: The NBA widened the foul lane before the season in an attempt to slow George Mikan, but the rule change had a minimal effect, as he still averaged 23.ppg, finishing 2nd in scoring. The Lakers would also finish in 2nd with a 40-26 record. In the playoffs, the Lakers would beat the Indianapolis Olympians in 2 straight to earn a rematch with Rochester Royals. In a reversal of last year, the Lakers lost Game 1 before coming back to win the next 3 to reach their 4th final in 5 years. In the Finals, the Lakers and New York Knickerbockers would alternate wins with the Lakers emerging victorious in 7 games.
1952/53: The Lakers continued to be the dominant force in the league as they win the Western Division with a 48-22 record. In the playoffs, the Lakers would sweep the Indianapolis Olympians in 2 straight. Moving on to the Western Finals, the Lakers would take their first two at home but were pushed to a 5th game when the Pistons won two straight games in Fort Wayne. The series returned to Minneapolis, where the Lakers won the decisive 5th game 74-58. In the Finals, the Lakers dropped Game 1 but won the nest 4 to beat the New York Knickerbockers for their 2nd straight Championship.
1953/54: Bad knees began to take a toll on Center George Mikan as he scored only 18.1 ppg. However, the Lakers signed a promising rookie named Clyde Lovellette, who was more than capable of spelling Mikan, as the Lakers won the Western Division with a 46-26 record. In a first-round, robin the Lakers won 3 straight to face the Rochester Royals in the Western Finals. The Lakers would go on to beat the Royals in a three-game series. In the finals, the Lakers and Syracuse Nationals alternate wins, with Lakers emerging with their 3rd straight title with an 87-80 win in Game 7. Following the season, Mikan would announce his retirement.
1954/55: The NBA instituted two revolutionary rule changes; the 24-second shot clock was introduced, as was a limit of 6 team fouls per quarter. The new rules accomplished two things: they helped quicken the pace of the action on the court, and they took away the tactical advantage of fouling a player who has possession of the ball late in a game. Despite the rule changes, the Lakers still make the playoffs with a 40-32 record. In the first round, the Lakers would beat the Rochester Royals in 3 games to advance to the Western Finals. However, in the finals, the Lakers would fall to the Fort Wayne Pistons 3 games to 1.
1955/56: With Jim Pollard retiring, the Lakers were just a shell of themselves, as they struggled all season. In the middle of the season, the desperate Lakers even asked George Mikan to come out of retirement. Despite the struggle, the Lakers still sneak into the playoffs despite a 33-39 record. In the playoffs, the Lakers would be bounced in the first round losing a three-game series to the St. Louis Hawks.
19556/57: Despite a 34-38 record, the Lakers managed to finish in a tie for the Division Title, but after losing a one-game playoff lost home court and their first-round bye. The Lakers would recover to beat Fort Wayne Piston in 2 straight, but in the Western Finals, they would be swept in 3 straight by the St. Louis Hawks.
1957/58: George Mikan assumes the coaching duties as the Lakers endure a terrible season finishing in last place with a league-worst 19-53 record. Mikan would not even last the year as he quit midway through the season as John Kundla reassumed the coaching duties.
1958/59: The Lakers fortunes would quickly turn as they drafted Forward Elgin Baylor with the top draft pick. Baylor would dominate the NBA in his 1st season, winning the Rookie of the Year with 24.9 ppg. Led by Baylor, the Lakers would finish in 2nd place with a 33-39 record. In the playoffs, the Lakers would beat the Detroit Pistons in 3 games to reach the Western Finals, where they would stun St. Louis Hawks in 6 games. However, in the Finals, the Lakers would be swept in their first playoff series against the Boston Celtics.
1959/60: After an 11-25 start, new Coach John Castellani is fired, and replaced by Jim Pollard. Under Pollard, the Lakers still struggled to make the playoffs despite a 25-50 record. Despite the team’s struggles, Elgin Baylor would shine posting 29.6 ppg good for 3rd in the NBA. In the playoffs, the Lakers would suddenly put it together, beating the Detroit Pistons in 2 straight and holding a 3-2 series lead over the St. Louis Hawks. However, the Hawks would rally to win the next two games to end the Lakers Championship dreams. Following the season, the Lakers who had seen attendance dip since George Mikan’s retirement decided to move to Los Angeles, becoming the NBA’s first West Coast franchise. The NBA would not return to Minnesota for another 30 years while the Lakers became one of professional sports’ most successful franchises in Los Angeles.
©MMV 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 Mineapolis 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 September 30, 2002. Last updated on November 14, 2005 at 11:40 pm ET.