Los Angeles Lakers Stats

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Los Angeles Lakers

Los Angeles Lakers Summary

The Los Angeles Lakers are one of the premier franchises in the NBA, having won 18 league titles and usually having at least one superstar on their roster. Some of the biggest names in the league have played for the Lakers at one point or another, and the 2021-22 roster is no exception.

The Lakers already had a pair of perennial All-Stars in LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Still, the team added guard Russell Westbrook and forward Carmelo Anthony in the offseason in an attempt to get back to the championship status of just two seasons ago. The veteran-laden bunch will try to give the Lakers a league-record 19th NBA title.

Los Angeles Lakers History

The Los Angeles Lakers franchise began play in 1947-48 in the National Basketball League in Minneapolis, winning the championship in its first season, then moved to the Basketball Association of America, where it also won a championship in the first season. The BAA became the NBA in 1949-50, and the Lakers won the first title in that incarnation of the league as well. 

Center George Mikan was the dominant player of the league in those days, and he helped the Lakers to three straight titles in the 1951-52 to 1953-54 seasons. Injuries forced Mikan to retire as he reached his 30s, ending the Minneapolis dominance over the league.

The team continued to make the playoffs, though the one season in the first 27 of the franchise in which the Lakers didn’t make the postseason, they got the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft. The selection of Elgin Baylor atop the 1958 Draft raised the Lakers to title contenders again, as Baylor won Rookie of the Year and led the team to the NBA Finals in his first season.

Jerry West was the No. 2 pick of the 1960 NBA Draft, and the combination of West and Baylor led the Lakers – who moved to Los Angeles prior to the 1960-61 season. In seven of its first 10 seasons in California, the team fell in the NBA Finals, losing to the Boston Celtics in six of those appearances. 

Injuries limited Baylor to 11 games in the 1970-71 and 1971-72 seasons, leading to his retirement. West teamed with Wilt Chamberlain to push the team to an NBA-record 69 wins in 1972-73, including a record 33-game winning streak during the regular season. The Lakers then defeated the New York Knicks in five games to win the NBA title.

Los Angeles reached the Finals again the following season, but fell to the Knicks this time. Chamberlain retired following the loss to the Knicks, and West retired the following offseason, leaving the Lakers struggling to make the playoffs. The turning point came in the 1975 offseason when the team sent four players and cash to the Milwaukee Bucks for center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

Abdul-Jabbar won league MVP honors in his first two seasons with the Lakers, helping the team back to the postseason in 1976-77. Los Angeles didn’t get far in the postseason, but a draft pick that was acquired in a trade with New Orleans Jazz turned out to be the No. 1 overall selection in the 1979 Draft, giving the Lakers the chance to nab guard Magic Johnson to team with Abdul-Jabbar.

Johnson brought immediate excitement to the team with his enthusiasm and playmaking ability as the Lakers advanced to the NBA Finals to face the Philadelphia 76ers in his rookie campaign. Abdul-Jabbar was injured in Game 5 of the series, forcing the Lakers to try to win the championship on the road without the league MVP. Johnson played center and dominated the contest, finishing with 42 points, 15 rebounds, seven assists, and three steals and winning Finals MVP as the Lakers won the title.

Johnson and Abdul-Jabbar, along with players like 1982 No. 1 overall pick James Worthy, Byron Scott, Michael Cooper, and AC Green and coach Pat Riley, had the Lakers in the Finals eight times in 10 seasons in the 1980s, winning the 1982 title over the 76ers, with Johnson again earning Finals MVP honors. The fast-breaking style of the team was nicknamed “Showtime.”

Los Angeles also faced the rival Celtics in the Finals three times in the decade, losing in a classic seven-game series in 1984, then coming back and defeating Boston for the first time in franchise history to win the 1985 title. The two teams squared off again in the 1987 Finals, with Los Angeles winning again, this time in six games.

The Lakers then took on the Detroit Pistons in the 1988 Finals with a chance to become the first repeat champion in the NBA since the 1968-69 season. Behind Finals MVP Worthy, Los Angeles won in seven games, rallying from a 3-2 series deficit. 

Abdul-Jabbar retired following the 1988-89 season, but Johnson led the team to the 1991 Finals, where they lost to Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls. The Lakers then had the bombshell of Johnson testing HIV-positive in the 1991 offseason, forcing him to retire from the NBA.

Los Angeles again had trouble contending for the playoffs, much less the NBA title in the early part of the 1990s without Johnson. Still, another big acquisition came in the 1995 offseason, when center Shaquille O’Neal joined Los Angeles as a free agent. West, now the team’s general manager, also pulled off a big draft-night deal in 1995, acquiring rookie Kobe Bryant from the Charlotte Hornets.

The two struggled until head coach Phil Jackson came to the Lakers before the 1999-2000 season, as Jackson’s presence elevated the team’s play, especially O’Neal, who won league MVP honors. The team won three straight championships, but an internal rivalry between O’Neal and Bryant tore the Lakers apart, and Los Angeles traded O’Neal to the Miami Heat in the 2004 offseason.

Jackson left the team but came back to coach, and Bryant was teamed with forward Pau Gasol as the Lakers made the NBA Finals again in 2008. Another loss to the Celtics denied Los Angeles the title, but the Lakers won the next two league championships, including a seven-game classic over Boston in 2010.

Los Angeles was unable to get back to the championship series in Bryant’s final years, but the arrival of LeBron James as a free agent in 2018 brought the Lakers back to title-contending status. The team added Anthony Davis in a deal before the 2019-20 season, and the Lakers won their 18th NBA title in the Orlando bubble, defeating the Miami Heat in the 2020 Finals.

2021-22 Key Stats

The Lakers enter the 2021-22 season as one of the favorites to win the NBA title, which would be the franchise’s league-record 19th. The additions of Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony to the group that is led by LeBron James and Anthony Davis makes Los Angeles one of the oldest rosters in the league. 

Championships Won by the Los Angeles Lakers

The Lakers have won 18 league championships in their history, with six of those coming in the franchise’s first seven seasons of existence as the Minneapolis Lakers. The final 12 came in Los Angeles, though it was a 17-year gap between championships before the team finally won in California.

The 1980s were a dominant decade for the franchise, with the Lakers advancing to the NBA Finals in nine of the 12 seasons starting in 1979-80, winning five championships. Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar led the way for those teams, with Pat Riley at the helm for four of the five titles.

The combination of Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe Bryant, and Phil Jackson brought the Lakers three straight championships beginning in 1999-2000. Jackson was the coach, and Bryant was the star of back-to-back title teams in 2009 and 2010.

Los Angeles has also won 34 division titles in its history. The Lakers won nine Western Division titles, one Central Division crown, and 24 Pacific Division championships.

Important Team Events

Acquiring superstars has changed the course of the Lakers franchise multiple times over the years, but a couple of pairings have put the team in position for multiple titles. Both were combinations of a big man with a guard and put Los Angeles among the elite in the game.

In 1975, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was dealt from the Milwaukee Bucks and immediately pushed the Lakers into playoff contender status. But it took the drafting of a rookie point guard at No. 1 in the 1979 NBA Draft to make Los Angeles a title contender. Magic Johnson and Abdul-Jabbar combined to lead the Lakers to five titles in the 1980s, with the duo missing out on the Finals just twice in their 10 years together.

The Lakers turned their fortunes around again in the summer of 1996, convincing Shaquille O’Neal to leave the Orlando Magic and come to the Lakers as a free agent. That same summer, Jerry West saw the potential in a high schooler who was eligible for the draft and swung a deal with the Charlotte Hornets for the rights to Kobe Bryant. The two players grew together and formed an unstoppable duo, leading the Lakers to three straight titles in the early 2000s, with Bryant being the star of two more championship teams at the end of the decade.

Top Players

Picking the top players from the history of the Lakers is like picking the top players in NBA history because many of them have played for the franchise at one time or another. Three players spent their entire Hall of Fame careers with the franchise and make our list of the top players in Lakers history.

Jerry West should have had more than one NBA title, but he happened to play at the same time as the Boston Celtics dynasty of the 1960s. West is still the second-leading scorer in franchise history and led the Lakers to the NBA Finals nine times. The man who is the model for the NBA logo was one of the greatest shooters in league history and earned the name “Mr. Clutch” for his late-game heroics.

Magic Johnson came to the Lakers as the No. 1 overall pick in the 1979 NBA Draft and immediately infused energy and excitement into the franchise. Johnson’s ball-handling, passing, and smile were made for the highlight reels, but Johnson was also all about winning. He won Finals MVP in 1980, 1982, and 1987 and helped the Lakers to five championships in his playing career. 

After West saw his potential as a high schooler, the Lakers traded for Kobe Bryant in the 1996 NBA Draft. Bryant developed into one of the top scorers in league history and helped Los Angeles to five NBA titles. He’s the all-time leading scorer in franchise history and the team’s leader in games, minutes played, free throws, three-pointers, and steals.

Top Coaches

Phil Jackson had two stints as coach of the Lakers, and both came with multiple NBA titles. Jackson joined the team for the 1999-2000 season, and Los Angeles went on to win three straight titles in his first three years with the team. After some time away, Jackson returned near the end of the decade and was head coach for three straight Finals appearances, including back-to-back titles in 2008-09 and 2009-10. Jackson is the all-time winningest coach in Lakers history with 610 regular-season victories.

After spending time as an assistant to head coach Paul Westhead, Pat Riley took over the Lakers midway through the 1981-82 campaign. Riley immediately installed a toughness on the team and the “Showtime” offense that pushed the basketball up the floor whenever possible. Riley was at the helm for four NBA title teams, including the franchise’s first victory in the NBA Finals over the rival Boston Celtics in 1984-85.

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Injuries

Conference Standings

Team Stats

Frequently Asked Questions

Kobe Bryant scored 33,643 points in his 20 seasons with the Lakers, the most in franchise history.

The Lakers have had the NBA MVP award winner eight times, with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (1975-76, 1976-77, 1979-80) and Magic Johnson (1986-87, 1988-89, 1989-90) winning three times each, and Shaquille O’Neal (1999-2000) and Kobe Bryant (2007-08) winning one apiece.

The Lakers have won the NBA title 18 times, tying the Boston Celtics for the most in league history, with the most recent championship coming in 2019-20.

Phil Jackson won 610 regular-season games as the coach of the Lakers, the most in franchise history.

The Lakers have picked No. 1 in the NBA Draft three times, taking Elgin Baylor (1958), Magic Johnson (1979), and James Worthy (1982).

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