Now onto the best overall decision in franchise history. It came in 1961 when then-owner Bob Short decided to move the Lakers out west to Los Angeles. L.A., especially back then, allured the organization with the city’s glitz, glamor and financial opportunities. This combined with the quick success the Dodgers had when they moved to L.A. from Brooklyn in 1958 was all Short needed to make his decision.
Overnight the new buzz in town was the Dodgers and the Lakers. The Lakers were in financial trouble when they were in Minneapolis. The wealth and business opportunities that L.A. provided were a vital solution for the organization.
Southern Californians were curious and interested in their new home team. The addition of future Laker legend and NBA Hall of Famer, Jerry West would only accelerate the hype.
The move to Los Angeles would also bring in a new play-by-play announcer for the Lakers. Chick Hearn changed the way fans listened, viewed and approached the game of basketball. Chick’s voice became synonymous with the Lakers.
Fans would agree that listening to the game without hearing Chick took a long while to adapt to after his death in 2002. However, his legacy is right where it should be, displayed in statue-form just outside of the Lakers’ home court.
The Lakers have taken advantage of the second biggest market in the United States to build upon their success. Every big play, every big trade, every big win, loss and championship run has been because of the move to Los Angeles.
Being in the big market of LA provided the organization with numerous sponsorship/advertisement opportunities and television/radio deals that the small market of Minneapolis could have never offered. These financial venues have grown exponentially and continue to do so.
The move was based on money, but what happened since then could not have been predicted. The fans embraced the new Los Angeles Lakers in 1961 and have continued to do so to this today. Los Angeles’ name is connected to every piece of the 50-year history of the Lakers in the city.
People have said that it is amazing what a team can do for a city. Yet in the Lakers’ perspective, isn’t it amazing what a city can do for a team?