Number 7 – Wilt Chamberlain
For this recap, we decided to take a look at Chamberlain’s efforts in securing the Lakers their first championship in Los Angeles. Winning himself his second ring and his only Finals MVP, at the age of 35.
Here is an excerpt from ‘The Greatest Lakers of All-Time: Wilt Chamberlain‘:
The Lakers won 69 games in the ’71-’72 season, finishing first in the Western Conference. Led in scoring by the Hall of Fame backcourt Jerry West and Gail Goodrich, both scoring 25 points a night each. Chamberlain led the team in minutes and rebounds, playing 42.3 MPG and pulling in 19.2 RPG. He also led the team in win shares at 15.8 wins added for the season, proving himself a crucial part of the team’s success.
LA stormed their way through the ’72 Playoffs, first sweeping the Chicago Bulls. Chamberlain played every single minute in the 4 games, averaging 14.5 PPG and leading the series in rebounds at 20.8 per game. They would then beat the Milwaukee Bucks in 6 games, with Chamberlain scoring 10.8 PPG and once again leading in rebounds at 19.3 per game. His age had definitely slowed his scoring, but everything else was still there, at an elite level. Helping the Lakers make the NBA Finals once again, facing the Knicks like they had 2 years prior.
The purple and gold would lose the first game against their fellow founding franchise, 114-92. Chamberlain pulled in 19 rebounds in the game to go along with his 12 points. Struggling from the field, the Lakers shot only 37% for the night. Goodrich’s struggles were the main contributor to this, finishing with 20 points, but only hitting 8 of his 22 shots. With the Knicks shooting 54% as a team, the Lakers posed as an easy target.
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Selected with a territorial pick by his hometown Philadelphia Warriors in the 1959 NBA Draft. He would go onto prove himself as a true star in the league, winning his first championship ring in 1967. After being traded to the Lakers in the summer of 1968, Chamberlain would go onto win 4 NBA Rebounding Titles, 4 NBA All-Star selections, an All-NBA Second Team selection, 2 NBA All-Defensive Team selections, 1 NBA Finals Most Valuable Player award, an NBA Championship, and later an induction into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.
In 1983 the Lakers made it so no other Laker would wear number 13 again, hanging his jersey in the rafters of The Forum, and now the Staples Center. Becoming the joint first player (with Elgin Baylor) to have his number retired by the Los Angeles Lakers. More than making him worthy of a place on this list as a true Laker great!