Best Los Angeles Lakers teams all-time: 1. 1971-72
Starters: Gail Goodrich, Jerry West, Wilt Chamberlain, Jim McMillian, Happy Hairston
Bench: Pat Riley, Flynn Robinson, Leroy Ellis, John Trapp, Jim Cleamons, Elgin Baylor
To find the number one team in Lakers’ franchise history you have to look back almost 30 years and the team that won the first championship in Los Angeles basketball history. That team was headlined by legendary stars Wilt Chamberlain and Jerry West, who helped lead the Lakers over the Knicks in the Finals that season.
It also included Gail Goodrich who is in the Basketball Hall of Fame and has his number retired by the team, with him and West the Lakers had two guards averaging 25 points per game on one team. They also had another tough guard named Pat Riley that was a solid player off the bench and his high basketball IQ led him to eventually coach the Lakers to four championships in the Showtime era.
The reason why this team ranks so high on the list is easily because of the two records they broke as a team that season.
They broke the records for most wins in a regular season with 69, which was eventually broken by the Bulls and Warriors, but it is still a Lakers franchise record. They also shattered the record for wins in a row with 33 straight victories and that record still stands and is considered one of the toughest to break in all of sports.
They are also tied for the most Hall of Fame Lakers in the starting line up and most Lakers with a number retired by the franchise.
So based on the results on the court, this team has to be considered as number one because they won the most games in the regular season and only lost three games in the postseason, two to a team that included a dominant young Kareem.
The only way this team could have been better is if Wilt was more in the prime of his career, at 35 he was not the same player that averaged 50 points in a season and scored 100 in a game. Let’s just say Wilt did not have the longevity that LeBron is having at age 35 in his career.
This ranking is also based on how they compared to their competition rather than comparing this team if they faced any of the teams ranked below them. Seeing West vs Bryant, or Shaq vs. Wilt or Kareem, or Goodrich vs. Payton, or LeBron vs Worthy, are all great hypothetical matchups but that is all they are is hypothetical.
Sometimes you have to respect your elders, and even though I did not have the benefit of seeing the 1971 Los Angeles Lakers with my own eyes, you still have to respect their place in history.
Notable Los Angeles Lakers Snubs: 2001-02, 1979-80, 2009-10, and 1998-99