The Laker Girls are an all-female National Basketball Association Cheerleading squad that performs and supports the Los Angeles Lakers basketball team in home matches. They also perform at many other events and venues.
Jerry Buss commissioned the Laker Girls in 1979 after he had purchased the Lakers. He believed a basketball game should be entertaining, and he was a big fan of college basketball. Cheerleaders were not common in the NBA at the time, but Buss ordered the formation of the squad—a team of top female dancers who were as talented as they were sexy—as part of his vision for Showtime. "I thought the game itself was fantastic, but the ambiance was really kind of dead. It was quiet and boring, and so I thought what I'd like to do is spice it up with having some dancers," he explained.
Being a Laker Girl is a part-time job, and most of the dancers do other work for income. The range of second jobs varies widely, and includes professional dancers, aspiring actresses, aerobics instructors, waitresses, primary school teachers, and even university professors. The salary is fairly low and the weekly hours depend on how many home games the Lakers play. The squad typically performs about 30 routines over the course of the season.
The Laker Girls hold auditions at the Staples Center for new recruits on the third Saturday of July of every year. Each current member of the squad must also audition to keep her place on the team. Each woman auditioning must come with a resume of their previous jobs. It is required that each prospective candidate comes prepared with her own routine and is taught two routines to perform for the current Laker Girls as well as some judges. Dance skills are the main criterion on which they are judged, but personality, style, and teamwork are also important.
It was as a Laker Girl that Paula Abdul was "discovered" by the group The Jacksons, in which she was hired by them to choreograph the music video for the song "Torture". This led to her doing the choreography for their Victory Tour, as well as other chances to do the choreography for other music videos. Abdul's success has given an extra prestige to being a Laker Girl.
As a former Laker Girl, it is a yearly tradition for Abdul to be a judge at the auditions each year and afterwards she takes all of the Laker Girls along with the women who didn't make the squad and buys them dinner.
A television movie of the same name aired in 1990, detailing the fictional tribulations of a trio of acolytes trying out to become members of the cheer leading troupe.
Notable former cheerleaders
- Paula Abdul
- Lisa Joann Thompson (In Living Color, Fame L.A., and Motown Live), (choreographer)
- Tina Landon (choreographer)
- Emily Harper (Fancy Crane on Passions)
- Moon Bloodgood (Actress and Model)
- Vanessa Curry (Dancer and Model; Former Pussycat Doll)
- Ostler, Scott; Springer, Steve (1988). Winnin' times : the magical journey of the Los Angeles Lakers. Collier Books. pp. 63–70. ISBN 0-02-029591-X.
- "Dr. Jerry Buss - Hall of Fame". NBA.com. Archived from the original on December 12, 2012.
- Markazi, Arash (February 18, 2011). "Showtime Lakers weren't built overnight". ESPN.com. Archived from the original on December 7, 2012.
- Hubbard, Jan (November 3, 1990). "Lakers Retain Strong Foundation". The Washington Post. Retrieved November 7, 2012.(subscription required)
- Carpenter, Susan (13 December 1999). "The Bod Squad". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 17 January 2013.
- Cart, Julie (22 December 1991). "The Greatest Flattery : Success of the Knicks' New Dancers Simply Proves What the Lakers Have Known All Along". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 17 January 2013.
- Rose, Adam (20 July 2008). "So you think you can dance?". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 17 January 2013.
- Norment, Lynn (11 May 1990"The Many Talents of Paula Abdul: Sassy Entertainer Gives Expanded Definition to Term "Multiple."". Ebony. Retrieved 3 May 2009.).
- "Abdul Delivers More Than the Same Old Song and Dance". San Jose Mercury News. 11 August 1989. Retrieved 3 May 2009.
- Laker Girls at the Internet Movie Database
- Media related to Laker Girls at Wikimedia Commons
- Laker Girls web site (NBA.com)
- Laker Girls on Twitter