By Sean Lanigan
On Sunday, October 11th, the Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Miami Heat in six games to win their 17th NBA title, tying them with the Boston Celtics for most championships. When you think of the history of the NBA Finals, you have to talk about the purple and gold of the Los Angeles Lakers. The team is the most successful NBA franchise in the history of the sport with 17 NBA Championships and 32 appearances in the finals. As a sports fan, I love storied franchises because they give me a chance to talk sports history.
The amazing history of the Lakers began in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s, when they won five championships in 1949, 1950, 1952, 1953, and 1954. Those teams were led by the all-time great player, George Mikan. Interestingly, the Los Angeles Lakers were originally from Minneapolis, Minnesota. The state of Minnesota has the nickname “The Land of 10,000 Lakes.” In the 1960’s when the Lakers moved to LA, they appeared in six NBA Finals, but lost all six of them to the Boston Celtics, who were led by hall of fame coach, the late Red Auerbach, and hall of fame player, Bill Russell. This decade began the famous Lakers-Celtics rivalry. Lakers great, Jerry West, hated losing to the Celtics so much that he started to hate the color green.
After winning the title in 1972, the Lakers would follow it with five more titles in the 1980s; 1980, 1982, 1985, 1987 and 1988. They would pay back the Celtics by beating them in two of those finals. The dominant 1980’s Lakers were led by hall of fame coach, Pat Riley, and hall of fame players, Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Those teams were nicknamed the Showtime Lakers.
However, after losing in the 1991 finals to Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls, the Lakers would not appear in the finals for the remainder of the 1990’s.
In the new millennium, the Lakers have added six more championships to their impressive resume, winning titles in 2000, 2001, 2002, 2009, 2010, and now 2020. Players on those teams included all-time greats like Shaquille O’ Neal, and the late Kobe Bryant. The 2020 team included my vote for the greatest of all time, Lebron James. Though many people love Michael Jordan, as do I, Lebron James is my pick for GOAT. He is the only non-Celtic to go to nine NBA Finals in ten years. In the past, he has taken bad teams to the finals, with four NBA titles with three different teams as he has dominated the league for two decades. The 2020 season ended with the Lakers holding up title number 17 and, in my opinion, all is right in the NBA world.
Next year in the NBA finals, I would love to see the Lakers play the Celtics. As a sports enthusiast and Mass Comm student, I continually seek out sports storylines and to add to the excitement. Which of these storied franchises will be the first team to reach number 18? These two basketball teams battling it out on the national stage for the 13th time would be a basketball fan’s dream.
Sean Lanigan hosts Level Up on WFTU Radio (1570 AM) on Thursdays at 10AM. If you miss an episode, you can listen on the WFTU Radio Mixcloud page.