Ranking the Top 10 Seasons in LA Lakers' History
The Los Angeles Lakers have arguably been the most dominant team in major professional sports.
They don't own the most NBA Championships, having been eclipsed by the Boston Celtics, but they own nearly every other, inluding wins all time, winning percentage, most playoff appearances, most playoff wins and longest winning streak.
They also have a winning percentage above .500 against every team except Boston (largely due to Celtic dominance in the '50s, '60s and '70s) and the Charlotte Bobcats (don't ask) no, really, don't.
So here is a ranking of the Top 10 Seasons in Lakers history, based on material success (ie wins and trophies won) as well as the consequences of the season.
To make this slightly easier in terms of comparisons I am only going to rank seasons after the move to L.A.
No. 10 2007-08 Lakers
The only team on the list to not win a championship, the 2007-08 Lakers were the first 50 win team for the franchise since the Shaquille O'Neal trade.
It was also significant as being an NBA finals team effectively built from scratch in just four years with only two players remaining from the 2004 team and only one from the championship run.
It came just after a summer in which Kobe Bryant demanded a trade and Jerry Buss predicted a 50-win team when almost every major commentator was predicting the Lakers would miss the playoffs or struggle to reach .500.
This was also the season when the Lakers acquired Pau Gasol in one of the most one-sided trades in NBA history, prompting this hilarious commentary: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6PP4RT-vv-o .
It also marked the start of a period with the Lakers expected to contend for championships for the next half decade at least.
No. 9 1999-00 Lakers
The first Lakers team of the Shaq-Kobe era to win a championship was also Phil Jackson's first season as coach. The team won an impressive 67 games after bringing in a number of veteren players to help overcome some awful playoff performances in the previous few years.
In their 40th year in L.A. the team was the top seed in the playoffs for the first time in nine years. Shaquille O'Neal won the League and Finals MVP awards, becoming only the second player to do so.
This also marked the first season played in the newly built Staples Center.
No. 8 1986-87 Lakers
The forth Lakers championship of the 1980s was also the second victory over the Boston Celtics in the Finals. No team had won four titles in a decade since the Celtics in the 1960s.
Cementing the Lakers as the dominant team in the League in the 1980s and a true dynasty. Magic Johnson won this third Finals MVP award. It was also the last time the Lakers and Celtics would face off in the finals for 21 years.
No. 7 1981-82 Lakers
After an embarrasing loss to the Houston Rockets, a team with a 40-42 record which had only barely made it into the playoffs, 1982 marked the year of Magic Johnson's second finals MVP award (becoming the only player ever to win multiple awards before his 23rd birthday) and Pat Riley's first championship with the team.
This season set the dynasty of the 1980s in motion.
No. 6 2001-02 Lakers
In 2001 the Lakers set an all time playoff record going 15-1 with only one loss to the Philadelphia 76ers in the NBA finals. In addition, the Lakers won back to back championships for only the second time in NBA history.
It also marked the year in which Shaquille O'Neal became one of only six players in NBA history with multiple finals MVP awards.
No. 5 1979-80 Lakers
The 1979-80 Lakers were signigicant not only for the championship they won but for the rookie they drafted. Earvin 'Magic' Johnson was arguably the most enthusiastic rookie in NBA history and the only one to jump on Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's back after a match.
The most notable performance of the season was of course Johnson's Game Six performance in the finals, with 42 points, 15 rebounds, seven assists, and three steals after staring at center in place of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
He became the first rookie to win the Finals MVP award.
No. 4 2001-2 Lakers
As well has being the first finals series sweep in Lakers history, 2002 marked the Lakers completion of a historic 'three-peat' for the first time in franchise history.
No. 3 1987-88 Lakers
The first time an NBA team had won back to back championships in over twenty years it also marked the first back to back success for the Los Angeles Lakers and the final championship won by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar the NBA's all time leading scorer.
It also marked the end of the Lakers' 1980s dynasty with the next two finals trips ending in a four game sweep at the hands of the Detroit Pistons in 1989 and a 4-1 loss to the Chicago Bulls in 1991.
No. 2 1984-85 Lakers
The team that finally broke the Celtics' curse. Up until this season no team had won the NBA title on the Celtics' home court and the Lakers had never defeated the Celtics in a playoffs series period.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar became the oldest player to win the Finals MVP award at age 38 and helped to pay back the Celtics for the finals defeat the year before.
No. 1 1971-72 Lakers
Led by Jerry West, Gail Goodrich and Wilt Chamberlain, this was one of the greatest teams in NBA history, said by Phil Jackson to be the only team who would have given his late-'90s Bulls a "battle royal" and hold the record for most consecutive wins in major professional sports (33).
Up until Jackson's Bulls won 72 games they also held the record for the most wins in NBA history at 69. In addition to this, it marked Los Angeles' first Championship since moving from Milwaukee after years of disappointment.