It’s quite often overlooked how different this franchise would be if it had never left the Twin Cities for Los Angeles in 1960. Would Laker greats such as Jerry West, Elgin Baylor, Magic Johnson, James Worthy and Kobe Bryant ever have fully reached their full superstar potential while playing in Minnesota? Would Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Shaquille O’Neal have even wanted to play for the Lakers if they had stayed? Would USC alumni, Jerry Buss, still have been interested in buying a team from Minnesota?
This is no knock on Minnesota either. Los Angeles is simply the place to be to become a star. If you’re a Los Angeles Laker, you are a celebrity. Not everyone on the roster may be an A-lister, but being anything associated with the Lakers organization is as good as gold if you’re living in Los Angeles. All the big named celebrities, you see them at Laker games because that’s where they want to be seen. This may not influence the superstardom of individual players, but as a team, it definitely boosts the teams celebrity status.
While Minnesota didn’t receive anything in return for the Lakers and the move doesn’t actually qualify as a true transaction, the relocation was nonetheless monumental in the Lakers becoming the league’s greatest franchise. For better or worse, moving to Los Angeles allowed the Lakers to be in the spotlight. The city acts as an attractive location to prospective free-agent signees and coaches.
Although Minnesota has been out of the picture for quite, as the state is now inhabited by a new club, the state will never be fully removed from the franchise. For every true Laker fan, whether they know it or not, a piece of Minnesota is attached to their love of the Lakers. The Twin Cities is where it all began; with George Mikan and Jim Pollard headlining the team, It’s where the greatest franchise in sports was born. For the younger generation of today’s Laker fans, it probably seems impossible to imagine this team playing in any other city than LA. The Lakers were meant for Los Angeles and Los Angeles was meant for the Lakers.
Next: The Great Dr. Buss