I'm one of the more "seasoned" members around here along with half a dozen others that have seen 3 or 4 distinct Era's of Laker Basketball come and go. I think we are seeing the end of the second best one I've witnessed.... the Kobe Era.
I first started following the Lakers (My Dad's favorite team) in the early 70's right about the time of the 72 Championship. I don't have many memories of that team other than sitting in the lower sections with my Mom (who wasn't really a fan of basketball) and Dad and thinking Wilt was huge. It was one of the fondest memories I have of my mom who passed away that year so that game (against the Warriors) has a special place for me. That Era was coming to a close just as I began to get interested in the NBA and the Lakers.
The next Era was the one I remember as I was going through my teens. The "Goodrich" years with guys like Happy Hariston, Wilt for a year or two and Jim McMillian. They lost to the Knicks in 73 and then went down hill for a few years until Kareem arrived. Wilt retired in 73 and Connie Hawkins arrived to fill the scoring gap. That team was smashed by Kareem's Bucks in the first round and that was officially the end of the run.
75' saw a 30 win season and missing the playoffs. Lucius Allen and Stu Lantz were on that team as was Pat Riley along with Goodrich who was my favorite player at the time.
Kareem arrived the next year and even after trading most of the team to get him they still won 40 games. Goodrich was getting older but still was putting up great numbers. He is a forgotten great of the 70's along with so many others that get overlooked during this decade. For the next few years most of the team would come and go including Goodrich in 76. These teams kept making the playoffs but were largely a collection of older role players and Kareem.
In 78 Nixon arrived and his play gave Kareem some room to operate for the first time as a Laker. Adrian Dantley and Jamaal Wilkes were also on the 78 team. Kareem missed 20 games that year because of Kent Benson's chin or that team may have gone deep into the playoffs. 79 saw Cooper arrive and 80 was the beginning of the "Showtime" Era and Magic's arrival.
Now this may be a surprise for some here but when Buss bought the Laker's from Jack Kent Cooke in 79 most in the press and in LA thought that was a bad thing. A playboy Chemist/Real Estate guy buying a sports franchise. Buss was just about the second coming of Hugh Hefner at the time. His ownership of the Lakers was viewed nearly as bad by the fans as Jimmy Buss's is now.... He erased those fears in a few years.... Hopefully the acorn follows the tree....
Magic's enthusiasm changed the entire makeup of the team. While he was about the only bit difference in 80 from the 79 team the entire atmosphere in the Forum was different. Kareem had to work half as hard for the same points, Wilkes was always open and Nixon seemed to have an open lane all the time. Nixon actually was the point guard on those team and led the team in assists when Magic was a rookie.
81 was a tough year. Rumors of trading Kareem and he and Magic not getting along were all over the place. Kareem, Wilkes and Nixon were all in one group and Magic in another. Magic hurt his knee this year and I believe if he hadn't Kareem would have probably been traded. Magic was still a pain in the butt in 81-82 and got Westhead fired 11 games in (7-4 record) and replaced by the "Color Commentator"... Pat Riley. Riley had played with Kareem and was able to have those two find common ground. He really invented what everyone remembers as Magic Johnson. Kareem would open and close games as the focus and the middle two quarters were run...run...run. While I firmly believe Kareem was the best and most important player when the pressure was on during this time Magic was the "Star" of those teams.
Wilkes and Nixon went... Rambis, Worthy and Scott came in. The run lasted until Detroit smashed us in the finals and Kareem retired. 2 years later Magic was gone... Era over.
The next Era was the 90's mediocrity period. Nick Van Exel, Eddie Jones, Elden Campbell, Divac, Peeler and Sedale Threatt. This group was very fun to watch. You didn't know if they were going to lose to the worst team in the league by 10 or beat the Bulls by 10. Every night something different... and different player playing great and a different player playing poorly.
This Era was a Coaching roundabout. Dunleavy, Pfund, Bertka and even Magic as Player/coach. That group could never capture any consistency but they were a blast to watch.
Del Harris came in and stabilized the coaching. Ceballos became the go to guy and we still didn't do much until 97 when Shaq and Kobe arrived. Shaq missed over 30 games that first year in LA or we may have been seeded much differently in the playoffs that year.
Kobe Era- This era had two distinct parts. The Shaq-Kobe era and the Kobe Era. Most here became fans during this time and only know Laker basketball from this perspective. While I love watching Kobe and appreciate Phil's influence this Era was not the funnest to watch other than Kobe for me. While not nearly as successful the 90's teams were a blast to watch. Everyone was having fun on those teams which was not always the case in the Kobe era.
I think this one, barring a miracle, is coming to a close. All of you younger posters out there that came to know Laker ball through this one will now see a transition but I can tell you as a 40 year fan that they will rise again.... they will find the top players again and they will win again.
Last edited by Rooscooter
on Sat Jul 06, 2013 10:26 am, edited 1 time in total.
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