The Los Angeles Lakers, including their time as the Minneapolis Lakers, have played in an NBA-record 31 Finals. Who are their 25 best players?
Mikan. Baylor. The Logo. Wilt. Kareem. Magic. Shaq. Kobe.
For just about its entire existence, the Los Angeles Lakers franchise has been home to some of the game’s biggest legends.
It’s almost hard to believe that it all started with a team in the old National Basketball League that went 4-40 in its first—and only—season.
That would be the long-forgotten Detroit Gems, who played the 1946-47 season before owner Maury Winston got $15,000 from Minnesotans Ben Berger and Morris Chaffen, who moved the franchise to Minneapolis and renamed it the Lakers.
They won the NBL title in 1947-48, playing most of their home games at the Minneapolis Auditorium, and jumped to its upstart rival, the Basketball Association of America the following season, winning five titles in six seasons in what became the NBA after the BAA and NBL merged in 1949.
After the retirement of George Mikan, the Lakers fell on some rough times and were sold to Minneapolis businessman Bob Short in 1957.
Three years later, Short—frustrated by low attendance in the Twin Cities—decided to do some California dreaming and moved the Lakers to Los Angeles in 1960, playing in the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena.
Canadian media magnate Jack Kent Cooke bought the team from Short in 1965 and moved the team to The Forum in Inglewood, near the Los Angeles International Airport, where it remained for more than three decades.
Cooke owned the Lakers until 1979, selling them to Los Angeles real estate mogul (and chemist) Dr. Jerry Buss.
The Lakers moved to Staples Center in 1999, where they remain. When Buss died in 2013, ownership of the franchise transferred to his six children, with son Jim Buss assuming a managerial role and daughter Jeanie Buss representing the team on the NBA Board of Governors.
Since moving to Los Angeles, the Lakers have added 11 more championships to their total. The 16 championships are second in NBA history to only the 17 of the Boston Celtics.
But no team has been in the NBA Finals more often than the Lakers, an astonishing 31 times in 68 seasons since jumping to the BAA.
Of course, the Lakers have made the playoffs 60 times in 68 seasons, including 17 consecutive years from 1977-93, 16 straight times from 1959-74 and 10 years in a row from 1995-2004.
The last three years the team has missed the playoffs is the longest such stretch in franchise history, surpassing a two-year drought in 1975 and 1976.
Since moving to the BAA, the Lakers are 3,235-2,134, a .603 winning percentage that remains the best among the 30 active franchises despite just a 65-181 mark during the past three seasons.
They have 11 60-win seasons, topped by a then-record 69-13 mark in 1971-72, an NBA record that stood for nearly a quarter-century before it was broken by the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls.
That year’s team still holds the NBA record with a streak of 33 straight victories.
The Lakers were also 67-15 in 1999-2000 and 65-17 in 1986-87 and 2008-09.
The last two seasons marked the first time in franchise history the Lakers lost 60 games, going 21-61 in 2014-15 and a franchise-worst 17-65 in 2015-16.
West in 1994-95 is the only NBA Executive of the Year winner in franchise history, however.
The franchise has had 25 coaches, with six of them winning at least 200 regular-season games.
Phil Jackson was 610-292 from 1999-2004 and 2005-11, going 118-63 in the playoffs and winning five titles.
Pat Riley went 533-194 from 1981-90 with a 102-47 postseason mark highlighted by four championships.
John Kundla was the team’s first coach and amassed a record of 423-302 from 1948-57 and 1958-59—briefly replaced in 1957-58—and was 52-33 in the playoffs while winning five championships.
Blue Man Hoop
Schaus was 315-245 from 1960-67 (33-38 in the postseason), Sharman went 246-164 and 22-15 from 1971-76—winning a title in 1972 and Del Harris was 224-116 from 1994-99, but just 17-19 in the playoffs.
Three Laker coaches have been named Coach of the Year: Sharman in 1971-72, Riley in 1989-90 and Harris in 1994-95.
The Lakers have picked second four times—including 2016, third three times and fifth once. They have never had the No. 4 pick.
Here are the 25 best players in the history of the Minneapolis/Los Angeles Lakers. Players had to have appeared in 150 games and averaged a minimum of 20 minutes per game for the team to qualify for this list.
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