For years and years in the 1960s, the Los Angeles Lakers would come up just short in winning an NBA championship as the Boston Celtics would always somehow come out on top. When the Lakers added Wilt Chamberlain to a team led by Jerry West prior of the 1969 season, things were expected to change.
However, the Lakers would lose a crushing Game 7 at home to the Celtics in that year’s Finals. When it was the New York Knicks across from them in the Finals the following year, the infamous ‘Willis Reed Game’ occurred in Game 7, once again leaving them just short of that elusive title.
The 1972 season changed everything.
The Lakers would reel off 33 straight wins during the regular season, a record that still stands today, and win 69 games total, a record that stood until 1996 and has still only been surpassed by two teams in NBA history.
In the playoffs, the Lakers ran through the Chicago Bulls and Milwaukee Bucks before coming face-to-face once again with the Knicks. This time, the Lakers made sure to finish the job.
On May 7, 1972, Chamberlain and West led the Lakers to a 114-100 win over the Knicks to bring the city of Los Angeles its first ever NBA championship.
Finals MVP Chamberlain led the way in the clinching game with 24 points and 29 rebounds. Over the course of the five-game series Chamberlain averaged 19.4 points and 23.2 rebounds.
West added 23 points and nine assists, while Gail Goodrich, the team’s leading scorer in both the regular season and the Finals, finished with 25 points to dispatch of the Knicks.
This was the culmination of a long journey for the Lakers as time after time they came up just short. In the end, the frustrating losses ultimately made it that much sweeter when they got over that hump to win their first championship in Los Angeles. And they did so in dominant fashion.
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