Why Are They Called the Los Angeles Lakers?

(Last Updated On: December 20, 2018)

Why Are They Called the Los Angeles Lakers?
Los Angeles is probably best known for its ties to Hollywood. This is where all the aspiring actors flock to in the hopes of catching their big break and becoming the world’s next big star. It is the second largest city in the U.S. (New York is the first) and the largest city in the West. L.A. is also known as the “City of Angels” because “Los Angeles” means “the angels” in Spanish.

The city is situated in a basin, with the Pacific Ocean on one side and mountain ranges on the other. The area is not exactly known for its lakes, yet the hometown NBA basketball team is called the Lakers. So, why are they called the Los Angeles Lakers?

Why Are They Called the Los Angeles Lakers?

The team that would eventually become the Los Angeles Lakers got their start in 1946 in the National Basketball League in Detroit, where they were called the Detroit Gems. In 1947, the team was moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota—and one of the nicknames for this state is “Land of 10,000 lakes.” The team’s name was changed to the Lakers to reflect this state spirit.

The Lakers joined the BAA (which is the precursor organization of the NBA) for the 1948-49 season and won the championship. When the NBA was formed in 1949, the Lakers won four out of the league’s first five titles, establishing the franchise as the first dynasty in professional basketball.

Moving to Los Angeles

The Lakers were fortunate to have many of the league’s top players, in particular George Mikan, who is considered to be one of the first dominant players of the sport. When he retired in 1956, fan attendance at Lakers games dropped, so the team moved to Los Angeles before the 1960-61 season. The franchise decided to keep the same team name.

During the 1960s, the Lakers made it to the NBA finals a total of six times. However, they lost every time to the Boston Celtics. The team would continue to have some solid years during the 1970s, but would miss the playoffs for the first time in franchise history during the 1974-75 season.

By the 1980s, however, the Lakers would enter their most dominant period in team history. Led by guys like Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and James Worthy, the Lakers made eight appearances in the NBA finals during the entire decade, winning five (1980, 1982, 1985, 1987, and 1988.) This era has been dubbed “Showtime” due to the spectacular playing styles of the players and the frequent appearances of movie stars courtside.

After Abdul-Jabbar and Johnson retired, the team had lackluster seasons until the early 2000s, when Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant led the team to three championships. The team would then win back-to- back championships in 2009 and 2010. 

Think you know your Los Angeles Lakers trivia? Test your luck in the quiz below, or visit Sporcle to find many more NBA quizzes.

And if you liked this post, make sure to check out these ones too:
Why Are They Called the Utah Jazz?
Why Are They Called the Cleveland Browns?