Sports

LA LAKERS

From the George Mikan-led Minneapolis Lakers teams of the '40s and '50s to the "Showtime" era Magic Johnson teams of the late 1980s to Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant's dynasty of the early 21st century, one thing has been consistent about the Lakers : winning . The franchise has boasted a host of Hall of Famers and has compiled a string of championships which has scarcely been rivaled in the history of American sports.

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 local NBA rival, the Los Angeles Clippers , the Los Angeles Kings of the NHL , and the Los Angeles Sparks of the WNBA .The Lakers are the reigning NBA champions after defeating the Boston Celtics in the 2010 NBA Finals 4–3. The Finals victory gave the franchise their 16th championship, placing them second in NBA history behind the Celtics' 17. As of 2011, the Lakers are the second most valuable NBA franchise according to Forbes , having an estimated value of $643 million.

The franchise started with the 1947 purchase of a disbanded team, the Detroit Gems of the NBL . The new team began play in Minneapolis , Minnesota , calling themselves the Lakers in honor of the state's nickname, "Land of 10,000 Lakes". The Lakers won five championships in Minneapolis, propelled by center George Mikan , who is described by the NBA's official website as the league's "first superstar".After struggling financially in the late 1950s following Mikan's retirement, they relocated to Los Angeles before the 1960–61 season .

Led by Hall of Famers Elgin Baylor and Jerry West , Los Angeles made the NBA Finals six times in the 1960s, but lost each series to Boston. In 1968, the Lakers acquired four time MVP Wilt Chamberlain to play center, and after losing in the Finals in 1969 and 1970, they won their sixth NBA title—and first in Los Angeles—in 1972 , led by new head coach Bill Sharman . After the retirement of West and Chamberlain, the team acquired another center, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar , who had won multiple MVP awards, but was unable to make the Finals in the late 1970s. The 1980s Lakers were nicknamed "Showtime" due to their Magic Johnson -led fast break-offense, and won five championships in a nine-year span. This team featured Hall of Famers in Johnson, Abdul-Jabbar, and James Worthy , and a Hall of Fame coach, Pat Riley . Two of those championships were against their rivals , the Celtics. After Abdul-Jabbar and Johnson's retirement, the team struggled in the early 1990s before acquiring Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant in 1996. Led by O'Neal, Bryant, and another Hall of Fame coach, Phil Jackson , Los Angeles won three consecutive titles between 2000 to 2002 , securing the franchise its first " three-peat ". After losing both the 2004 and 2008 NBA Finals , the Lakers won two more championships by defeating the Orlando Magic in 2009 and Boston in 2010.

The Lakers hold the record for NBA's longest winning streak (33), set during the 1971–72 season. Sixteen Hall of Famers have played for Los Angeles, while four have coached the team. Four Lakers—Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant—have won the NBA Most Valuable Player Awards for a total of eight awards.

Los Angeles Kings

The Los Angeles Kings are a professional ice hockey team based in Los Angeles , California . They are members of the Pacific Division of the Western Conference of the National Hockey League (NHL). The team was founded on February 9, 1966, when Jack Kent Cooke was awarded an NHL expansion franchise for Los Angeles, becoming one of the six teams that began play as part of the 1967 NHL expansion . The Kings called The Forum in Inglewood, California (a suburb of Los Angeles), their home for thirty-two years until they moved to the Staples Center in Downtown Los Angeles to start the 1999–2000 season

The Kings won their division for the only time in their history in 1990–91 . They have qualified for post-season play in twenty-four seasons, advancing past the first round twelve times, and past the second round once. The franchise won their conference championship and advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals in the 1992–93 season , losing to the Montreal Canadiens in five games.

Clippers

The Los Angeles Clippers are a professional basketball team based in Los Angeles , California , United States . They play in the Pacific Division of the Western Conference of the National Basketball Association (NBA). The club's home games are played at the Staples Center , an arena shared with the Los Angeles Lakers of the NBA, the Los Angeles Sparks of the Womens National Basketball Association (WNBA), and the Los Angeles Kings of the National Hockey League (NHL). The team has only had six winning seasons in its entire history, and only two since moving to Los Angeles in 1984.

The Clippers began in 1970 as the Buffalo Braves , one of three NBA franchises that began play in the 1970–71 season (the others being the Portland Trail Blazers and Cleveland Cavaliers). They played their home games at the Buffalo Memorial Auditorium , sharing the arena with another new franchise, the NHL's Buffalo Sabres , who also debuted in 1970 . In addition, from 1971–75, the Braves played a total of 16 home games at Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto , Ontario in the hopes of expanding their fan base beyond Western New York and into the Greater Toronto Area .

The team's first head coach was Hall of Famer Dolph Schayes and the franchise's first star players were Bob Kauffman and Don May , who were acquired in the 1970 NBA Expansion Draft . However, in the NBA Draft of 1970 , Buffalo passed on hometown hero Calvin Murphy , a 5-foot-9 point guard from Niagara University . Murphy would eventually be inducted into the Hall Of Fame. As is typical of first-year expansion teams, the Braves finished with a dismal record, finishing 22–60, seven games ahead of the Cavaliers, their expansion cousins, who finished at 15–67. Kauffman, who averaged 4.3 points per game the previous year with the Chicago Bulls , led Buffalo in scoring with 20.4 points per game and earned a spot on the 1971 NBA Eastern Conference All-Star team.

The Braves repeated their 22–60 record in the 1971–72 season, but did make good acquisitions that would make the club better. Buffalo drafted center Elmore Smith from Kentucky State University and local favorite Randy Smith from Buffalo State College . John McCarthy replaced Schayes one game into the season as the team's head coach. The team did not do much better in the 1972–73 season, as it went 21–61 under new head coach Dr. Jack Ramsay . The Braves' big move that season was drafting forward/center Bob McAdoo from North Carolina . The team finally made its first playoff appearance in 1973–74 , in which it faced the Boston Celtics in the first round and lost in six games. That season, McAdoo posted averages of 15.1 rebounds and 30.6 points ; this is the last time any player has surpassed both 30 points and 15 rebounds in the same NBA season.

In 1974–75 , McAdoo was awarded the NBA Most Valuable Player Award , averaging 34.5 points, 14.1 rebounds. and 2.12 blocks per game, while shooting 51.2 percent from the field and 80.5 percent from the free-throw line. The Braves made trips to the playoffs in both 1974-75 and 1975–76 , the latter of which would be their last playoff berth playing in Buffalo.

By the summer of 1976, the team's founding owner Paul Snyder was doing all he could to sell the team. The June 15, 1976 issue of Buffalo's Courier-Express blasted the headline "Braves Go to Florida, Leaving 'Hockey Town'." Snyder had a handshake deal to sell the team to Mr. and Mrs. Irving Cowan, who would move the Braves to Hollywood , Florida , yet the City of Buffalo filed a $10 million damage suit to block the move. The sale eventually fell through and the Braves and the city signed a new 15-year Memorial Auditorium lease in July with a provision that the lease could be voided if the team did not sell 5,000 season tickets in any season.

Before the first game in the 1976-77 season the Braves also managed to acquire eventual Hall-of-Fame center Moses Malone from Portland. However, after just two games in which he played a total of just six minutes, he was traded to Houston for two draft picks. He would finish the season averaging 13 points and 13 rebounds while only two years later winning his first of three MVP Awards.

San Diego years (1978–84)

San Diego Clippers logo.

In the team's first season in San Diego, it posted a winning record, going 43–39 under new head coach Gene Shue . However, that record was not good enough to advance to the post-season, as it was two games out of the final playoff spot. As it turned out, it would be the Clippers' last winning season for 13 years. It was also in that first season in Southern California that long-time announcer Ralph Lawler began his association with the club. Randy Smith had another solid season, averaging 20.5 points per game, finishing second behind World B. Free , who was acquired in the offseason from the Philadelphia 76ers . Free finished second overall in NBA scoring average, with 28.8 per game, while George Gervin of the San Antonio Spurs had a 29.6 average.

 

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