The lure of Los Angeles

Understanding why superstar players want to play in Los Angeles
The lure of Los Angeles
The Los Angeles Lakers have managed to win championships in every decade since 1940s except the 1960s.The Bridge Chronicle

The NBA free agency frenzy has been all over the internet. As the prelude to the 2021-22 regular season, free agency is a crucial period. Some teams are looking for the missing pieces in their championship puzzle, whereas other franchises are offloading big contracts and bringing in young players to speed up their rebuild.

This year, like always, free agency has some winners and some losers. In the eastern conference, the Chicago Bulls and the Miami Heat have emerged as winners. The Toronto Raptors were unsuccessful in making valuable additions to their team and are losers.

In the west, the New Orleans Pelicans have made some underwhelming moves and have emerged as losers. One of the biggest winners in this free agency has been the Los Angeles Lakers, with additions like Russell Westbrook, Carmelo Anthony, Kendrick Nunn and Malik Monk. The Lakers have turned their old roster into a championship side. The squad has the right mix of star power, versatility, depth and veteran leadership.

Historically, the Lakers have always stayed relevant either as a title contender or a quality playoff team. Los Angeles has always been one of the top destinations for free agency. But, one can’t just credit this phenomenon to the urge of playing in a big market franchise. With the Los Angeles Lakers, there is always more.

Let us try to decode this Los Angelean lure.

Everlasting purple patch

Throughout history, the Lakers have been part of the upper echelon of sports teams. Even when the team was in Minneapolis, they won four of the first five NBA championships led by the legendary big man George Mikan, creating the very first dynasty. After Mikan’s retirement, the team moved to Los Angeles in the early 60s.

The team acquired perennial all-stars like Elgin Baylor and Jerry West and reached six NBA finals in the decade, but lost to the Boston Celtics on every occasion. However, in the 1971-72 season, with the mythical Wilt Chamberlain at the helm, Los Angeles Lakers created history by winning 69 games and conquering the elusive championship.

Wilt Chamberlain led the Lakers to their first champion in Los Angeles
Wilt Chamberlain led the Lakers to their first champion in Los AngelesWiki Commons

There was another championship drought until 1979 when the Lakers drafted Earvin ‘Magic’ Johnson. Magic with Kareem-Abdul Jabbar got to work and won five championships in the next decade.

The Lakers struggled to reach the finals in the mid - 90s as both Kareem and Magic retired. Now, Los Angeles was awaiting another superstar and, like clockwork, Shaquille O'Neal was signed in 1996. In the same year, the Lakers also traded for a rookie from Philadelphia Kobe Bryant. It took Kobe and Shaq only three years to develop into a championship team and win three straight championships from 1999 to 2001.

Kobe Bryant (left), Shaquille O'Neal(centre) and Rick Fox (right) celebrate their third consecutive championship.
Kobe Bryant (left), Shaquille O'Neal(centre) and Rick Fox (right) celebrate their third consecutive championship.Shaquille O'Neal /Instagram

As Shaq departed, Kobe took the Laker legacy ahead, winning two consecutive championships in 2009 and 2010. The purple patch continued as LeBron James and Anthony Davis won the 2020 NBA championship, completing 16 total trophies for the Lake show.

Kobe Bryant (centre) led Lakers won two consecutive championships under Coach Phil Jackson(right)
Kobe Bryant (centre) led Lakers won two consecutive championships under Coach Phil Jackson(right)Wiki Commons / Bridget Samuels

Masterminds in management

While building a successful sports franchise, the management needs to be astute. When things are moving smoothly behind the scenes, players often excel on the court. The Lakers management has stuck to this mantra. Be it drafting generational talents like George Mikan, Magic Johnson and Kobe Bryant or signing big-name players like Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Shaquille O'Neal and LeBron James, the Lakers have always been successful.

City of stars

The city of Los Angeles has been one of the biggest reasons players want to join the Lakers. The city is full of big-shot film stars and musicians, making it an attractive proposition for superstar players who want to make it big in the NBA. The glitz and glam of the city also make Los Angeles one of the biggest markets (media) in the league. So the team is on national T.V. more, generating high broadcast revenue.

The beautiful city of Los Angeles
The beautiful city of Los AngelesWiki Commons/ Adoramassey

With the new NBA just around the corner, the excitement is through the roof to see the revamped Los Angeles Lakers perform. Every Laker fan has high expectations and would want the LeBron James and Anthony Davis led team to win the franchise’s 18th NBA championship.

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