LA Lakers Championships

Phil Jackson Kobe Bryant Los Angeles Lakers 2008

Phil Jackson, Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol Los Angeles Lakers 2008 (By Keith Allison, Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0, image link: flicker, cropped derivative)

The Lakers franchise, from their inception in Minneapolis in 1947 to their move to Los Angeles in 1960, has won 16 professional basketball championships, which is the second-most of any franchise in basketball. From the days of Elgin Baylor and Jerry West to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Magic Johnson during the “Showtime Era,” to the dynamic duo of Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant, the Lakers franchise has been synonymous with some of the biggest stars in NBA history, and with NBA championships.

2000 NBA Champions

After Magic Johnson’s retirement in 1991, the Lakers would make it to the NBA postseason in five of the next seasons but failed to make it past the second-round of the Western Conference Finals. While most franchises would view this as a success, for a team that won five NBA Championships in a nine-year span, such results would be considered a failure.

But 1996 would be a pivotal year for the Lakers franchise. After acquiring O’Neal via free agency before the start of the 1996-1997 NBA season, and acquiring the rights to Bryant in the 1996 NBA Draft, the Lakers acquired two players who would become the cornerstone superstars for more NBA championships to come. In the duo’s fourth season together, under the watchful eye of head coach Phil Jackson, the Lakers broke through to the NBA Finals, defeating the Indiana Pacers in a six-game series in 2000.

Lakers 3-Peat

The Lakers’ 67-win season in 1999-2000 would ignite the NBA’s next dynasty that would result in three consecutive NBA championships, known as a “three-peat.”

Kobe Bryant Playing for the Los Angeles Lakers 2010
Kobe Bryant Playing for the Los Angeles Lakers 2010 (By Keith Allison, Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0, image link: flicker, cropped derivative)

The following season, an occasionally-unmotivated Lakers would win 56 games during the regular season. But when the postseason began, they put on one of the most dominant postseasons runs ever seen in the NBA, not losing a single game en route to the 2001 NBA Finals. While the Lakers did drop the opening game of the 2001 NBA Finals against the Philadelphia 76ers, they would end up winning four-straight after that, winning their second title.

The following year, as O’Neal and Bryant began feuding for “top dog” status on the team, the Lakers still won 58 games, culminating in their victory over the New Jersey Nets in the 2002 NBA Finals. In the process, that Lakers team became the first group to pull off a three-peat since the franchise was still in Minneapolis, between 1951 and 1954.

Lakers 2010 Championship

The feud between Bryant and O’Neal eventually led to the Lakers trading away the latter and rebuilding the team around the former. The Lakers would “reload” their franchise, putting forwards Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom alongside Bryant, and the team returned to the NBA Finals in 2009, defeating the Orlando Magic for the NBA title. The following year, the Lakers would repeat as champions, beating the hated Boston Celtics for the franchise’s 16th NBA title.

Bryant was named the Most Valuable Players of the NBA Finals in both seasons, and Jackson would get his fifth championship ring as the head coach of the Lakers, adding on to the six that he earned with the Chicago Bulls.

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