1971–72 Los Angeles Lakers season

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1971–72 Los Angeles Lakers season
Sixth NBA Championship
Head coach Bill Sharman
Owner(s) Jack Kent Cooke
Arena The Forum
Results
Record 69–13 (.841)
Place Division: 1st (Pacific)
Conference: 1st (Western)
Playoff finish NBA Champions

Stats @ Basketball-Reference.com
Local media
Television KTLA
Radio KABC
< 1970–71 1972–73 >

During the 1971–72 season the Los Angeles Lakers won their first title since moving to Los Angeles. The Lakers beat the New York Knicks in five games to win the title, after going 69-13 during the regular-season, a record that stood for 24 seasons. During the regular season, they would also go on to win a current-standing NBA (as well as MLB, NFL, and NHL) record 33 straight games.

Offseason[edit]

  • Traded a 1971 2nd round draft pick to the Cincinnati Royals for guard Flynn Robinson.
  • Hired Bill Sharman as the new head coach to replace Joe Mullaney.
  • Traded a 1972 2nd round draft pick to the Portland Trail Blazers for center Leroy Ellis.
  • Claimed forward John Trapp off waivers from the Houston Rockets.

NBA Draft[edit]

Round Pick Player Position Nationality School/Club Team
1 13 Jim Cleamons Guard  United States Ohio State

Roster[edit]

1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers roster
Players Coaches
Pos. # Name Height Weight DOB (YYYY–MM–DD) From
F 22 Baylor, Elgin 6 ft 5 in (1.96 m) 225 lb (102 kg) 1934-09-16 Seattle
C 13 Chamberlain, Wilt 7 ft 1 in (2.16 m) 275 lb (125 kg) 1936-08-21 Kansas
G 11 Cleamons, Jim 6 ft 3 in (1.91 m) 185 lb (84 kg) 1949-09-13 Ohio State
C 14 Ellis, Leroy 6 ft 10 in (2.08 m) 210 lb (95 kg) 1940-03-10 St. John's
F 24 Erickson, Keith 6 ft 5 in (1.96 m) 195 lb (88 kg) 1944-04-19 UCLA
G 25 Goodrich, Gail 6 ft 1 in (1.85 m) 170 lb (77 kg) 1943-04-23 UCLA
F 52 Hairston, Happy 6 ft 7 in (2.01 m) 255 lb (116 kg) 1942-05-31 NYU
G 12 Riley, Pat 6 ft 4 in (1.93 m) 205 lb (93 kg) 1945-03-20 Kentucky
G 21 Robinson, Flynn 6 ft 1 in (1.85 m) 185 lb (84 kg) 1941-04-28 Wyoming
F 31 Trapp, John 6 ft 7 in (2.01 m) 210 lb (95 kg) 1945-10-02 UNLV
G 44 West, Jerry 6 ft 2 in (1.88 m) 175 lb (79 kg) 1938-05-28 West Virginia
Head coach




Legend
  • (C) Team captain
  • (DP) Unsigned draft pick
  • (FA) Free agent
  • (S) Suspended
  • Injured Injured

Roster
Last transaction: 2013-03-22

Depth chart[edit]

Pos. Starter Bench Reserve Inactive
C Wilt Chamberlain LeRoy Ellis
PF Happy Hairston John Trapp
SF Jim McMillian Keith Erickson
SG Gail Goodrich Flynn Robinson
PG Jerry West Pat Riley

Regular season[edit]

Since moving to Los Angeles, the Lakers were repeatedly foiled by the Boston Celtics in their attempts to capture an NBA title. The Lakers lost the championship to them six times in eight years. In 1970, with the aging Celtics out of title contention, the Lakers lost in the NBA finals to the New York Knicks. In 1971, after losing Jerry West to a season ending injury in February, they lost in the Western Conference finals to the powerful Milwaukee Bucks.

Going into the 1971-72 season, many experts thought the chance at a championship had passed for this aging team. Star players Wilt Chamberlain, Elgin Baylor, and Jerry West were all in their 30s, and had all missed significant time due to injuries in the prior two The defending champion Milwaukee Bucks, led by superstar Kareem Abdul-Jabbar appeared to starting a new NBA dynasty. But new coach Bill Sharman still believed the Lakers had the talent to contend. He introduced strict conditioning drills and implemented a running fast break based offense. He re-tooled Wilt Chamberlain's game to focus on defense, rebounding, and jump starting the fast break with quick outlet passes to guards Jerry West and Gail Goodrich. The only casualty of this system was the aging Baylor, who could not physically handle the up tempo practices and offense and retired 5 games into the season. He was replaced at small forward by Jim McMillian, who played at a near all star level.

Shortly thereafter, the Lakers strung together a record 33-game win streak. The streak ended on January 9, 1972 against the Milwaukee Bucks.[1] The Lakers and Bucks then staged a season long race for the league's best record, with the Lakers setting a then NBA record with 69 wins (the Bucks had the second best record at 63-19).

Season standings[edit]

Pacific Division W L PCT GB Home Road Neutral Div
y-Los Angeles Lakers 69 13 .841 36–5 31–7 2–1 21–3
x-Golden State Warriors 51 31 .622 18 27–8 21–20 3–3 14–10
Seattle SuperSonics 47 35 .573 22 28–12 18–22 1–1 12–12
Houston Rockets 34 48 .415 35 15–20 14–23 5–5 9–15
Portland Trail Blazers 18 64 .220 51 14–26 4–35 0–3 4–20


Season schedule[edit]

1971–72 season game log
Season Schedule

Playoffs[edit]

1971–72 playoff game log
Playoff Schedule

Player stats[edit]

Regular Season[edit]

Player GP MPG FG% FT% RPG APG PPG
Elgin Baylor 9 26.6 .433 .815 6.3 2.0 11.8
Wilt Chamberlain 82 42.3 .649 .422 19.2 4.0 14.8
Jim Cleamons 38 5.3 .350 .778 1.0 0.9 2.6
LeRoy Ellis 74 14.6 .460 .695 4.2 0.6 4.6
Keith Erickson 15 17.5 .482 .857 2.6 2.3 5.7
Gail Goodrich 82 37.1 .487 .850 3.6 4.5 25.9
Happy Hairston 80 34.4 .461 .779 13.1 2.4 13.1
Jim McMillian 80 38.1 .482 .791 6.5 2.6 18.8
Pat Riley 67 13.8 .447 .743 1.9 1.1 6.7
Flynn Robinson 64 15.7 .490 .860 1.8 2.2 9.9
John Trapp 58 13.1 .443 .699 3.1 0.7 5.7
Jerry West 77 38.6 .477 .814 4.2 9.7 25.8

Playoffs[edit]

Player GP MPG FG% FT% RPG APG PPG
Wilt Chamberlain 15 46.9 .563 .492 21.0 3.3 14.7
Jim Cleamons 6 2.8 .571 N/A 0.7 0.7 1.3
LeRoy Ellis 13 10.3 .463 .250 3.2 0.8 3.0
Gail Goodrich 15 38.3 .445 .898 2.5 3.3 23.8
Happy Hairston 15 38.5 .440 .794 13.1 2.1 13.5
Jim McMillian 15 41.6 .447 .857 5.7 1.5 19.1
Pat Riley 15 16.3 .333 .750 1.9 0.9 5.2
Flynn Robinson 7 10.3 .463 .700 1.9 0.7 6.4
John Trapp 10 7.1 .242 .571 1.6 0.5 2.0
Jerry West 15 40.5 .376 .830 4.9 8.9 22.9

NBA finals[edit]

Main article: 1972 NBA Finals

The Los Angeles Lakers played against the New York Knicks in the NBA finals during the postseason.

Game 1[edit]

Although without Willis Reed because of his knee injury. Jerry Lucas scored 26 points but was only one of several Knicks who was red hot. Bill Bradley hit 11 of 12 shots from the field as New York shot 53 percent for the game. The team took advantage of a nearly perfect first half to jump to a good lead and won easily, 114-92. Early in the second half, the Forum crowd began filing out dejectedly. It looked like another Los Angeles fold in the Finals.

Game 2[edit]

Knicks forward Dave DeBusschere hurt his side and didn't play after the first half. Hairston scored 12 points in the second half, and Los Angeles evened the series with a 106-92 win.

Game 3[edit]

DeBusschere attempted to play in the first half and missed all six of his field-goal attempts. He was hurting and elected not to play in the second half. DeBusschere explained :"I didn't feel I was helping the team,". The Lakers danced out to a 22-point lead and regained the home-court advantage with a 107-96 win.

Game 4[edit]

The game went into overtime, but at the end of regulation, Wilt Chamberlain picked up his fifth foul. In 13 NBA seasons, he had never fouled out of a game, a history he was immensely proud of but also one that usually led to him playing less aggressively when he was on the verge of getting a 6th foul. As the press waited for Wilt to take the floor and hurt the Lakers by reverting to a passive style, he instead came out in a shotblocking fury that propelled the Lakers to a 116-111 win. At three games to one, their lead now seemed insurmountable.

Game 5[edit]

The Lakers won their sixth NBA championship by the score of 114-100. This was their first championship since moving to Los Angeles in 1960. Jerry West also won his first NBA championship after 12 years of waiting. Wilt Chamberlain scored 24 points and 29 rebounds and earned the NBA Finals MVP Award.

Award winners[edit]

  • Bill Sharman, NBA Coach of the Year
  • Jerry West, All-NBA First Team
  • Jerry West, All-NBA Defensive First Team
  • Wilt Chamberlain, All-NBA Defensive First Team
  • Wilt Chamberlain, NBA Leader, Shooting Percentage (.649)[2]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Numbelivable!, p.58, Michael X. Ferraro and John Veneziano, Triumph Books, Chicago, Illinois, 2007, ISBN 978-1-57243-990-0
  2. ^ Numbelivable!, p.58, Michael X. Ferraro and John Veneziano, Triumph Books, Chicago, Illinois, 2007, ISBN 978-1-57243-990-0