The Los Angeles Lakers are a National Basketball Association (NBA) team based in Los Angeles, California. The Lakers play their home games at Staples Center, which they share with their fellow NBA rival, the Los Angeles Clippers, and their sister team, the Los Angeles Sparks of the WNBA.
The Lakers are the two-time reigning NBA champions after defeating the Boston Celtics in the Finals four games to three, capturing the franchise’s 16th NBA championship on the 50th anniversary of its relocation to Los Angeles. As of 2009, the Lakers are the most valuable NBA franchise.In June 2010, basketball analyst and writer John Hollinger ranked the Lakers as the greatest NBA franchise of all time.
The Lakers franchise was founded in 1946 in Detroit, Michigan before moving to Minneapolis, where the team got its official title from the state’s nickname, “Land of 10,000 Lakes.” The Lakers won five championships before relocating to Los Angeles in the 1960/61 season. The Lakers lost all of their eight appearances in the NBA Finals in the 1960s, despite having help from Elgin Baylor and Jerry West.
In 1972, the Lakers won their sixth title, first in Los Angeles, under coach Bill Sharman. The Lakers’ popularity soared in the 1980s when they won five additional championships during a nine-year span with the leadership of Hall of Famers Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, James Worthy and coach Pat Riley, the franchise’s all-time leader in regular season game wins and playoff games coached and wins.
Two of those championships during that span were against their arch-rivals, the Boston Celtics. From 2000 to 2002, the Lakers won three titles consecutively with the help of Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe Bryant, and Hall of Fame coach Phil Jackson. After losing both the 2004 and 2008 NBA Finals, the Lakers captured two more championships, for a total of 16, by defeating the Orlando Magic in 2009, and the Boston Celtics in 2010.
The Lakers hold records for having (into the 2009/10 season) the most wins (3,027), the highest winning percentage (61.9%), the most NBA Finals appearances (31), the second fewest non-playoff seasons with five (San Antonio Spurs have four), and the second-most NBA championships with 16, behind the Boston Celtics’ 17.They also hold the record for compiling the longest win streak (33) in U.S. professional team sports (also an NBA record) in the 1971/72 season.
Sixteen Hall of Famers have played for the Lakers, while four Hall of Famers (John Kundla, Bill Sharman, Pat Riley and Phil Jackson) have coached the team. Four Lakers (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant) have won the NBA Most Valuable Player (MVP) award for a total of 8 MVP awards.
After re-acquiring Derek Fisher, the Lakers started the 2007/08 season fairly well, supported by the flourishing Andrew Bynum. However, Bynum’s season ended to injury in January, leading the Lakers to trade Kwame Brown, Javaris Crittenton, Aaron McKie, the draft rights to Marc Gasol, and two first round draft picks to the Memphis Grizzlies for Pau Gasol and a second round draft choice. After the trade, the Lakers went on to clinch the first seed in the Western Conference with a 57/25 record.
Kobe Bryant was awarded the NBA Most Valuable Player Award, becoming the first Los Angeles Lakers player to have won the award since Shaquille O’Neal won the award in 2000.The Lakers went to the playoffs and defeated the Denver Nuggets in four games, the Utah Jazz in six games, and the defending champion San Antonio Spurs in five games.They entered the NBA Finals for the first time in four years, facing their long-time rivals, the Boston Celtics, whom they had not played in the Finals in 21 years. The Lakers eventually lost the series in six games.
Basically retaining the same cast from last season (only the free-agent switch between Houston’s Ron Artest and Trevor Ariza being the key change), the Lakers finished the 2009/10 season with 57 victories, once again the West’s best record for the third straight season. They defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder in six games of the first round, then swept past the Utah Jazz in the Conference Semifinals. They defeated the Phoenix Suns in the Conference Finals, four games to two. In the 2010 NBA Finals, the Lakers once again met their old rivals, the Boston Celtics.
In a series that recalled some of the two teams’ memorable title struggles of earlier decades, the Lakers rallied from a 3-2 series disadvantage and erased a 13-point deficit in the seventh and deciding game to defeat Boston and win their sixteenth title and eleventh in Los Angeles. Kobe Bryant was named the NBA Finals MVP for the second consecutive year. The Lakers became the first team to repeat as champion since the Lakers themselves last did the trick in 2002.
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