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Fifty Years Ago Today The Lakers Won Their First L.A. Crown

May 7, 2022

Today, marks fifty years since that Sunday night May 7, 1972, when the Los Angeles Lakers led by Wilt Chamberlain, playing with a cast on his arm, FINALLY won their first Los Angeles NBA title, winning (114-100) vs the New York Knicks to win the ’72 final in 5 games. (Two years earlier, the Knicks defeated the Lakers in game 7 at New York’s Madison Square Garden by an eerily? similar (113-99) tally).

That ’71-’72 Lakers team was “my” team and oh how much I put into that quest, a misplaced manifestation of obsession, however, unlike today’s only “anti,” (working on correcting it), I really “loved” that team, which won, what is still a major North American sports league record 33 straight regular season games and finished with a then NBA best record (69-13).

There is too much pain period and certainly the “butchering” of the far from perfect, but admirable, great player/executive, Jerry West in a current series based on a book by Jeff Pearlman (maybe the stories are true, but in his book about the ’86 Mets–there were glaring factual baseball errors), adds to it.

Though both Jerry and I often, if not always, have “Peggy Lee/ Is That All There Is,” reactions to victories, that ’72 title (oh do I wish I could see the whole game, but the last 8 or so minutes are not available. WHY NOT?!!) means a great deal.

Though Wilt and his teams had been denied many times, he did win an overwhelming title, with another great team, the (68-13) 1966-1967 Philadelphia 76ers. Jerry had never won one.

That is why more than any other reason, I wanted that Lakers’ crown.

So today, fifty years later, hail Wilt, Jerry, Gail Goodrich, Jim McMillian, Harold “Happy” Hairston, the great, “each had a purpose and tremendous skill,” starting five, that manifested in great team play, under coach Bill Sharman and assistant K.C. Jones.

The reserves were Pat Riley, the first of his 9 titles, six with L.A. (4 as head coach), Flynn Robinson, LeRoy Ellis, John Q. Trapp, Jim Cleamons, Keith Erickson and for the first few games, the great player, Elgin Baylor.

As cited here before, Elgin, whose “moves” were celestial on the court made another great one by retiring.

Jim McMillian was then inserted in the starting lineup and the Lakers immediately won those incredible 33 straight games and eventually, finally a title.

I still feel good about it, these (somehow, yet inexorably), 50 years later.



A champion player in college at U.C.L.A. and with the ’71-’72 Lakers, the great Gail Goodrich is pictured above. 


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