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| 53 They were once the great Los Angeles Lakers. This is roughly the sentence that’s been repeated by every fan of the club for the last six years, during which the club has failed to make the end of season play-o s. There were great, legendary names, but now the NBA league’s biggest brand is on its knees. The club’s almost unreal story began in 1947, and even prior to arriving from Minneapolis in the“City of Angels”in 1960, it had already won ve (of a possible 16) titles. The top star was George Mikan, who had Croatian emigrant roots. He was the rst to start using the hook shot (later perfectedby KareemAbdul-Jabbar) and towear glasseswhileplaying. Mikan truly symbolised the fact that the slightly ironic title of the lm“White Men Can’t Jump” isn’t true at all. He was the top scorer and league MVP for several seasons (during his career he averaged 23.1 points, 13.4 rebounds and 2.8 assists). The Lakers as we know them today emerged in 1960, and spent the next 12 years waiting for a title. BEGINNINGS OF THE GREATEST RIVALRY The 1960s brought the formation of the greatest rivalry in the NBA league with the Boston Celtics; the battle of East and West, green and purple-gold, the cradle of movies versus the cradle of knowledge. JerryWest and Elgin Baylor, as the greatest stars of the team, failed to win a single title against the superior Celtics, ledbyBill Russell, whowonmore titles than he has ngers (11), an achievement for which he is unequalled in history. The poor performances were reversed with the arrival of Wilt Chamberlain, one of the best basketball players of all time, and a man who was even nicknamed “The Black Jesus”, andwas just what the Lakers weremissing to win a title. He holds several records, the most striking of which is for the number of points scored in a single match (100). He helped the team set a record for the highest number of consecutive NBA matches without a loss (33) and to win the 1972 title. The second half of the‘70s ushered in one of theperiods that fans of the clubwant to forget. Abdul-Jabbar arrived in California as a three-time MVP and showed in his rst few seasons that, apart from setting records, he also knewhowto ght (hebrokehishandpunchingKentBenson). SHOWTIME LAKERS The calming of the situation also brought perhaps the best decision in thehistoryof the club: the selectionof Earvin ‘Magic’ Johnson as the rst pick of the 1979 draft. This player who could cover all positions on the basketball court – though nominally a point guard, he could also defend and play at center – brought the club ve titles and launched the era that would remain in memory as the Showtime era, precisely due to the swift counter attacks and no-look passes that were Magic’s trademark. The 1984 nal was lost to the Celtics (eighth in a row), but a year later the Lakers celebrated victory in the middle of Boston Garden Arena, thus becoming the only club to win a title in this hall, which was a big blow to Celtics fans that still stings more than three decades later. The best thing for the sport was that the rivalry that then developed between Magic and Larry Bird saw the viewer gures for the NBA league literally explode. Leading the impressive Lakers at that timewas Pat Riley, who knewhow to incorporate the biggest stars. Many great names sharedminutes on the court, and the trio of Abdul-Jabbar, Worthy and Magic reached a total of ve titles before the NBA’s all-time top scorer, Abdul-Jabbar (38,387 points), announced his retirement in 1989. The much younger Johnson shocked the planet two years later when he also retired, after having been diagnosed as HIV positive. A real treat is represented by the games played at the Staples Center on Sundays, because that’s the only time that the Lakers play in white shirts, which gives them a real aristocratic note Prava poslastica su utakmice koje se u „Stejpls centru“ igraju nedeljom jer Lejkersi samo tad nastupaju u belim dresovima, što im daje pravu aristokratsku notu Još jedna LA legenda, Vlade Divac Another LA legend, Vlade Divac Najveći fan Lejkersa, Džek Nikolson Biggest Lakers’ fan, Jack Nicholson

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