Ever Wondered What the Origin of the Los Angeles Lakers’ Franchise Name is?

Published 10/07/2020, 9:30 AM EDT
The Los Angeles Lakers talk after a play against the Denver Nuggets during the second quarter in game one of the Western Conference Finals of the 2020 NBA Playoffs. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers are one of the most highly valued and revered teams in NBA history. Rather than just being a team, the Lakers are a lifestyle for many. The name is synonymous with success, perseverance, class, history, consistency, and more.

Remember when the 2020 US Open Champion Naomi Osaka wore the Lakers’ Kobe Bryant jersey for her post-win photoshoot? Such is the inspiration that people draw from the Lakers name.

Just what is the origin behind this name that has caused a stir for several decades? 

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The Lakers and their never-dying legacy

Lakers players Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Anthony Davis, Alex Caruso, and Rajon Rondo during the Conference Finals of the 2020 NBA Playoffs. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The franchise was founded in the year 1946 and was named the Detroit Gems back then. It used to play under the National Basketball League (NBL) in its initial days. Later, it moved its base to Minneapolis and changed its name to the Minneapolis Lakers.

The term Lakers originated from Minnesota’s nickname, ‘the land of 10,000 Lakes’. The stars playing for the pride of those lakes thus became the Lakers. For a sports team to get its name from a natural phenomenon is rare. Typically, in the world of sports, teams take on names that show them representing destructive dominance, for example, the Blazers, Heat, or Thunder. But the Lakers chose to go down a different path.

Today, the name and the logo of the Los Angeles Lakers is a priceless asset. It is precious to its fans and everyone related to it. 

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Summing up the franchise history

The franchise name became a brand when the George Mikan-led team won back-to-back championships in the initial years of the team’s transition from BAA to NBA. His side brought home four of the first five titles under the NBA championships. When he retired, the home state’s interest dropped, and the franchise shifted to Los Angeles in 1960. 

The Lakers advanced to six NBA finals in the 60s but lost them all to the fiercely dominant and unforgiving Boston Celtics. Wilt Chamberlain and Jerry West led the organization to some success in the ‘70s, which later picked up as Magic Johnson, James Worthy, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar arrived in the ‘80s. That era was named  “showtime” for its display of flamboyant success. 

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The ‘90s belonged to the Chicago Bulls, but fortune once again shone on the Lakers with Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant helping them add three more rings to the collection. The Lakers-Celtics rivalry once again came to life in the late 2000s, where the Kobe-led team lifted the title in 2010. A rough phase plagued then plagued the team, and it was marked by injuries and their top players retiring. Things didn’t look too good for them for the next few years until LeBron James and Anthony Davis finally put them back on the map.

The franchise is still far from touching its earlier heights, but from the looks of it, the dawn seems to be near.

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Sourabh Singh

1739 articles

Sourabh Singh is an NBA sports analyst for EssentiallySports, who has been working with the site since May 2020. Prior to this, he functioned as Managing Editor at WittyFeed, followed by a stint at Decathlon. The Sports Management graduate leads an active lifestyle, veering to the mountains for off-trail adventures.

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