(21) 1997 Los Angeles Lakers (56-26) vs. (40) 1979 Los Angeles Lakers (47-35)
It’s rookie Kobe time! Nothing good from him at all though…8-2-1 is all they got. Shaq played only 51 games (26-13), but they got 17-4-3 from Eddie Jones, and 15-3-9 from Nick Van Excel. Elden Campbell had 15-8.
Decent year, led by Kareem (24-13-5-1-4…great year…), and also had Jamaal Wilkes (19-7) in the foreground. Adrian Dantley completed year two of his Lakers stay, also his last, as he had 17-6. Norm Nixon had 17-3-9, and an aged Lou Hudson had 10-2-2.
(22) 2001 Los Angeles Lakers (56-26) vs. (39) 1974 Los Angeles Lakers (47-35)
This is another champ (two more after this), that beat Philly and Iverson in the Finals. Other complete and utter domination year by Shaq and Kobe…Shaq had 29-13-4, and Kobe broke out with his 29-6-5 season. Rick Fox added 10 points…but nothing else is really big (as the 12-3-4 of Fisher was only available for 20 games…).
It’s the end of an era, as Jerry West retires during the year after he blows out his knee…he was having a 20-4-6-2.6 year (2.6 steals at the tail end of your career…he would have a 3.5 career average if it was kept…). Gail Goodrich took command, with his 25-3-5….Jim Price had 15 points, Happy Hairston added 15-14, and Connie Hawkins had 13-7-5, while Elmore Smith had 13-11…Not bad….
(23) 2004 Los Angeles Lakers (56-26) vs. (38) 1995 Los Angeles Lakers (48-34)
Probably the best team around Shaq and Kobe, though the era was coming to a close, as Kobe gets involved in a rape conviction….and mentioned Shaq as the setterupper of….entertainment…Kobe had 24-6-5, Shaq had 22-12, and Karl Malone (in half a year had 13-9-4) and Gary Payton (15-4-6) were the new additions….of course it killed them when Malone got injured….
This is two years before Shaq…..Cedric Ceballos had 22-8 in 58 games, Nick Van Excel had 17-3-8, Vlade Divac had 16-10, and Eddie Jones had 14-4. Nothing special, but not TERRIBLE….
(24) 1962 Los Angeles Lakers (54-26) vs. (37) 1971 Los Angeles Lakers (48-34)
Great year. Elgin Baylor was in military service, so he only got to play occasionally, but he made the most of it…averaging an incredible 38-19-5 in 48 games. Jerry West was phenomenal in his absence, averaging 31-8-4. Rudy LaRusso had 17-10, and Frank Selvy had 15-5-5.
This team was hurt by the absence of Elgin, who played only 2 games, after a successful 24 point year last year…after this year, he’d play 9 more NBA games. Jerry West (27-5-10) had a really, really good year, as did Wilt (21-18-4). Happy Hairston had 19-10, and Gail Goodrich had 18-3-5.
(25) 1969 Los Angeles Lakers (55-27) vs. (36) 1952 Minneapolis Lakers (40-26)
A Finals team led by the threesome of Jerry West (26-4-7), Wilt (21-21-5) and Elgin (25-11-5). This is a pretty famous year…West won Finals MVP in a losing effort, and Wilt left the game early with a “knee” injury, then the enraged coach Van Breda Kolff refused to put him back in… and they lost….
This is out earliest year, and one of the champs. Mikan had 24-14, Jim Pollard had 16-9-3, Vern Mikkelsen had 15-10, and Slater Martin had 9-4-4…pretty good team, but not a team that will get too far…(And won’t get past these 1969 Lakers…)
(26) 1963 Los Angeles Lakers (53-27) vs. (35) 2003 Los Angeles Lakers (50-32)
West (27-7-6) played only 55 games, so Elgin took over, averaging 34-14-5. Dick Barnett had 18-3-3, and they got 12-10 from Rudy LaRusso and 10-4-4 from Frank Selvy.
This is the peak of Kobe’s powers while with Shaq…Great 30-7-6 year from him. Shaq wasn’t bad either, he had 28-11. Derek Fisher had 11-3-4.
(27) 1981 Los Angeles Lakers (54-28) vs. (34) 1965 Los Angeles Lakers (49-31)
This was the first Magic team not to make the Finals…Magic (22-9-9) played only 37 games....a huge blow, considering they had great years from Kareem (26-10), Jamaal Wilkes (23 points), Nixon (17-3-9), so that may have cost them the championship…
Pretty good year from West (31-6-5), Baylor (27-13) and LaRusso (14-9)….not much to say, but this is a pretty good team (as are most LA teams…)
(28) 1984 Los Angeles Lakers (54-28) vs. (33) 1999 Los Angeles Lakers (31-19)
The loser from the greatest Finals of all time. Kareem was still the leader of this LA team, averaging 22-7-3. But Magic was still amazing (18-7-13). Their support was great too, James Worthy had 15-6, Jamaal Wilkes had 17-5, Bob McAdoo had 13-4, Byron Scott had 11 points, Mike McGee had 10 points and Michael Cooper had 9-3-6…nothing really bad with this team (except they are soft…….). This team might get far.
Shaq had 26-11, and Kobe had a pretty good 20-5-4…Nothing else, as Glen Rice (18 points) played only 27 games…
(29) 1977 Los Angeles Lakers (53-29) vs. (32) 1968 Los Angeles Lakers (52-30)
Kareem had 26-13-3, Cazzie Russell had 16-4, and Lucius Allen had 15-3-5…Kermit Washington added 10-9…nothing special comes from this team…
Jerry West (26-6-6) played only 51 games, and so it was mainly Elgin’s team, with him averaging 26-12-5, while Archie Clark had 20 points. Gail Goodrich had 14-3-3, Mel Counts had 12-9, and Darrall Imhoff had 9-11.
(30) 1996 Los Angeles Lakers (53-29) vs. (31) 1954 Minneapolis Lakers (46-26)
So the average LA team has one more win than the average Celts team…We end with a Magic Johnson comeback (15-6-7 in 32 games…what could have been….), on a Cedric Ceballos (21-7) led team. Eddie Jones had 13-3-4, Nick Van Excel had 15-2-7, and Vlade Divac had 13-9…nothing special, and they sure are ready for Shaq next year…..
This is a champ, a fitting ending for a storied franchise. George Mikan’s career is ending this year, despite 18-14….His crew was still there, with Jim Pollard (12-7-3), Vern Mikkelsen (11-9), and Slater Martin (10-2-4), with rookie Clyde Lovellette joining them this year, adding his 8-6…
So there we have it…the LA Lakers…Incredible stars have shone here (do I really have to list them again…). This was actually really enjoyable (as much as looking at a successful team that you hate can be…). Next we’re on to the M’s, with a bunch of short histories, and one medium one…We’re getting closer to being done…and on to the tourney….
Ladies and Gentlemen, your Minneapolis/Los Angeles Lakers! Next, we’ll see a largely unremarkable 16 year stretch…Let’s go to Memphis!