LeBron James

Alexander: The Lakers' 17th title is for all those who have come before


The Lakers have won 17 championships with five generations of superstars: George Mikan, Jim Pollard, Vern Mikkelsen and Slater Martin in Minneapolis; Jerry West and Wilt Chamberlain in ’72; Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and James Worthy in the ’80s; Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal (and later Kobe and Pau Gasol) in the first 11 years of this century, and now LeBron James and Anthony Davis in the NBA’s longest season ever .


Mikan was pro basketball’s first dominant big man, Pollard the driver and slasher, Mikkelsen handled the rebounding and the rough stuff, and Martin got the ball where it needed to go.


It’s for all the guys who tried to keep Russell off the boards in that era, in fact, with an emphasis on tried: Jim Krebs, Felix, Gene Wiley, LeRoy Ellis, Darrall Imhoff.


Right after Baylor retired in December of 1971, his effectiveness gone, the Lakers started a 33-game winning streak – still a professional sports record – en route to their first title in L.A. and sixth overall.


Oh, yes, 1969: Russell was player-coach and the Celtics finished fourth in the Eastern Division – the league wasn’t big enough for conferences then – and by the time they reached the Finals the 55-win Lakers with West, Baylor and Chamberlain were heavy favorites.


And this one is also for Phil Jackson, who coached the last five Lakers’ champions (2000, ’01, ’02, ’09 and ’10, the last head-to-head against Boston) and also surpassed Red Auerbach in Finals won all-time, 11-9 counting his six rings in Chicago.






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