Winning Ways: A Look Back on the 1972 Season

The All-Star game was held at the Forum that season, and the buzz surrounding the Lakers players was undeniable. Chamberlain and West were both selected to their 12th All Star games while Gail Goodrich also got the honor of playing in his second.

Jerry West rightfully led the West squad in scoring and electrified his home crowd while the game was tied at 110 late in the 4th quarter. Jerry West dribbled the ball down court and as time expired, Mr. Clutch was able to hit a 20-foot running jumper to send the West to victory and earn himself the All-Star MVP.

By the time the playoffs began to approach, the Lakers would post a 69-13 record, which would stand as the best in the NBA up until the 1995-1996 Bulls broke it. Another benchmark set in the Lakers’ historic season was the margin of defeat; the Lakers beat the Warriors by 63 points, that stood tall until Cleveland in 1991 beat the record by 5 points in a win against Miami.

The Lakers saw multiple players get nominated to All NBA teams; most significant was Jerry West to both the All-NBA First and All-Defensive teams. The nominations were his ninth and second, respectively. Wilt Chamberlain secured a spot on the All-NBA Second team and was matched alongside Jerry on the All-Defensive First team.

At the end of the year, the Lakers were the league leaders in scoring with 121 per game, rebounding at 56.4 a game and assists, with just over 27 a game. They beat teams consistently by the most points, as they posted another NBA best with 12.3 points better than opponents did.

As if the records set by this team in the league were not enough, they also own an overlooked statistic that really speaks to how well put together this team was regardless of where they played. They posted a 31-7 (0.816) record on the road which still stands as the best in league history.

Being in a new city with unparalleled fanfare, the Lakers were hungry to bring their first title to Los Angeles. Not having won a title since 1954 in Minneapolis only added fuel to the fire.

Finishing the season as the best team in the league, the Lakers quickly made early work of the Chicago Bulls in the Conference Semifinals, winning the series in a convincing sweep. The next round saw them paired up against the Bucks who easily were the Lakers’ biggest pain in recent years prior. This series would prove to be no different.

Fresh off Rookie of the Year and MVP honors, Alcindor helped his team blow out the Lakers in Game 1, which sent fans into a panic. The Lakers then came back and won both games two and three, both of which were decided by
three points or less. Game four turned out to be a blowout in the Bucks favor yet again, leaving the superior Lakers team leaning against the ropes.

Next: The Beginning of a Winning Tradition…

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