In the National Basketball League a fledgling professional league based in the Midwest the first year Minneapolis Lakers benefit when another rival league known as the Professional Basketball League of America folds. The expansion Lakers who already had a solid roster with forward Jim Pollard and playmaker Herm Schaefer, added Center George Mikan who quickly became the most dominant player in the sport. With Mikan leading the way the first year Lakers Coached by John Kundla easily won their division by 13 games with a 43-17 record. In the playoffs the Lakers continued to roll beating the Oshkosh All-Stars 3 games to 1. The Lakers would go to sweep the Tri-cities Blackhawks in 2 straight to reach the Finals. In the finals the Lakers continued their dominance beating the Rochester Royals 3 games to 1. Following the season the Lakers would move to the BAA as the two rival leagues began a merger that would form the NBA.
As the Gems had recorded by far the worst record in the NBL, the Lakers had the first pick in the 1947 Professional Basketball League of America dispersal draft, which they used to select George Mikan, later to become one of the greatest centers of his time. With Mikan, new coach John Kundla and an infusion of former University of Minnesota players to replace those lost prior to the relocation, the Lakers won the NBL championship in their first season.
The next year, the Lakers switched to the 12-team Basketball Association of America (BAA) and proceeded to win the championship in that season. As the BAA is considered the direct lineal ancestor of today’s NBA, this 1949 BAA championship is recognized today as an official NBA championship for the Lakers, whereas their 1948 NBL championship is not. This makes the Lakers the most successful expansion team in NBA history, since the NBA does not recognize NBL records and considers the Lakers to be a 1948 expansion team.
Last place, however, meant the first pick in the draft, and the Lakers chose wisely, picking Elgin Baylor, who went on to win the NBA Rookie of the Year Award after averaging 24.9 points per game and 15.0 rebounds per game.. In 1959, Baylor and Mikkelsen were able to lead the team past their recent nemesis, the Hawks, and into the Finals, where they fell to the then-emerging Boston Celtics in the first four-game sweep in NBA Finals history. This marked the start of the long rivalry between the two teams. 1960 saw the Lakers start poorly, but they managed to make the playoffs with a meager 25–50 record. They were defeated again, however, by the Hawks.
In 1958, the Brooklyn Dodgers of Major League Baseball moved to Los Angeles and quickly became a huge financial success. Short did not fail to notice this. After considering moves to Chicago and San Francisco, he decided to move the franchise to Los Angeles prior to the 1961 season, making the Lakers the NBA’s first West Coast team. The Lakers did not change their name after this second move, despite the general scarcity of natural lakes in southern California. Minneapolis, meanwhile, would remain without an NBA franchise until the debut of the Minnesota Timberwolves in 1989.
Besides the relocation to Los Angeles, a second big change to the team was the addition of point guard Jerry West. A third was the hiring of West’s college coach Fred Schaus to helm the team, and a fourth was the post-season addition of Francis Dayle “Chick” Hearn as the Lakers’ play-by-play announcer. Hearn would go on to hold that post for the next 41 years.
The Lakers’ franchise began in 1947 when Ben Berger and Morris Chalfen of Minnesota purchased the recently disbanded Detroit Gems franchise of the National Basketball League (NBL) for $15,000 from Gems founder/owner C. King Boring, and business partner Maury Winston. They hired John Kundla as their first head coach.
Berger and Chalfen relocated the team to Minneapolis, with home games being played at both the Minneapolis Auditorium and the Minneapolis Armory. The “team” that Berger and Chalfen had actually purchased consisted only of equipment; since the team had appeared to be on the verge of folding, all of its players had already been assigned to other NBL teams. The franchise was re-christened the “Lakers” in reference to Minnesota’s nickname, “The Land of 10,000 Lakes”. Berger and Chalfen brought in Max Winter, later to become a founder and owner of the National Football League’s Minnesota Vikings, to become the Lakers’ new general manager. Winter also took an ownership stake in the team, which he would maintain until he left the Lakers in 1955.
Minneapolis – Los Angeles
1949 – Present / National Basketball Association
1948 – 1949 / Basketball Association of America
1947 – 1948 / National Basketball League
1960 – Present / Los Angeles Lakers
1947 – 1948, 1948 – 1960 / Minneapolis Lakers
Lakers – The Lakers nickname came from the state of Minnesota being the Land of 10,000 Lakes.
NBA Championships 5
2010, 2009, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1988, 1987, 1985, 1982, 1980, 1972, 1954, 1953, 1952, 1950, 1949
2000 – Present / Staples Arena
1967 – 1999 / The “Fabulous” Forum
1960 – 1967 / Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena
1947 – 1960 / Minneapolis Auditorium
2013 – Present / Buss Family Trust
1979 – 2013 / Jerry Buss
1965 – 1979 / Jack Kent Cooke
1957 – 1965 / Bob Short
1948 – 1957 / Ben Berger and Morris Chalfen
Who is the greatest Minneapolis Lakers?
8 Kobe Bryant
13 Wilt Chamberlain
22 Elgin Baylor
24 Kobe Bryant
25 Gail Goodrich
32 Magic Johnson
33 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
34 Shaquille O’Neal
42 James Worthy
44 Jerry West
52 Jamal Wilkes
MIC Chick Hearn
*Blue is this team’s history