1947–1948 & 1948–1959: Beginnings and Minneapolis dynasty
Hall of Famer George Mikan (#99) led the Lakers franchise to their first five NBA championships. He is described by the NBA's official website as the "first superstar" in league history.
The Lakers' franchise began in 1947 when Ben Berger and Morris Chalfen of Minnesota purchased the recently disbanded Detroit Gems of the National Basketball League (NBL) for $15,000 from Gems owner Maury Winston.Minneapolis sportswriter Sid Hartman played a key behind the scenes role in helping put together the deal and later the team. Inspired by Minnesota's nickname, "Land of 10,000 Lakes", the team christened themselves the Lakers. Hartman helped them hire John Kundla from College of St. Thomas, to be their first head coach, by meeting with him and selling him on the team.
The Lakers had a solid roster which featured forward Jim Pollard, playmaker Herm Schaefer, and center George Mikan, who became the most dominant player in the NBL. In their first season, they led the league with a 43–17 record.
Minneapolis team co-owner Benjamin Berger
In 1948, the Lakers moved from the NBL to the Basketball Association of America (BAA), and Mikan's 28.3 point per game (ppg) scoring average set a BAA record. In the 1949 BAA Finals they won the championship, beating the Washington Capitols four games to two. The following season, the team improved to 51–17, repeating as champions. In the 1950–51 season, Mikan won his third straight scoring title at 28.4 ppg and the Lakers went 44–24 to win their second straight division title. One of those games, a 19–18 loss against the Fort Wayne Pistons, became infamous as the lowest scoring game in NBA history. In the playoffs, they defeated the Indianapolis Olympians in three games but lost to the Rochester Royals in the next round.
During the 1951–52 season, the Lakers won 40 games, finishing second in their division. They faced the New York Knicks in the NBA Finals, which they won in seven games. In the 1952–53 season, Mikan led the NBA in rebounding, averaging 14.4 rebounds per game (rpg), and was named MVP of the 1953 NBA All-Star Game. After a 48–22 regular season, the Lakers defeated the Fort Wayne Pistons in the Western playoffs to advance to the NBA Finals. They then defeated the New York Knicks to win their second straight championship. Though Lakers star George Mikan suffered from knee problems throughout the 1953–54 season, he was still able to average 18 ppg. Clyde Lovellette, who was drafted in 1952, helped the team win the Western Division. The team won its third straight championship in the 1950s and fifth in six seasons when it defeated the Syracuse Nationals in seven games.
Following Mikan's retirement in the 1954 off-season, the Lakers struggled but still managed to win 40 games. Although they defeated the Rochester Royals in the first round of the playoffs, they were defeated by the Fort Wayne Pistons in the semifinals. Although they had losing records the next two seasons, they made the playoffs each year. Mikan came back for the last half of the 1955–56 season, but struggled and retired for good after the season. Led by Lovellette's 20.6 points and 13.5 rebounds, they advanced to the Conference Finals in 1956–57. The Lakers had one of the worst seasons in team history in 1957–58 when they won a league-low 19 games. They had hired Mikan, who had been the team's general manager for the previous two seasons, as head coach to replace Kundla. Mikan was fired in January when the team was 9–30, and Kundla was rehired.
The Lakers earned the top pick in the 1958 NBA Draft and used it to select Elgin Baylor. Baylor, who was named NBA Rookie of the Year and co-MVP of the 1959 NBA All-Star Game, averaged 24.9 ppg and 15.0 rpg helping the Lakers improve to second in their division despite a 33–39 record. After upsetting the Hawks in six games in the division finals, they returned to the NBA Finals, but were swept by the Celtics, beginning their long rivalry.
1959–1968: Move to Los Angeles and Celtics rivalry
Jerry West led the team to nine NBA Finals appearances in the 1960s and 1970s. Nicknamed "Mr. Clutch", his silhouette is featured on the NBA's official logo.
In their last year in Minneapolis, the Lakers went 25–50. On January 18, 1960, the team was coming off a loss and traveling to St. Louis when their plane crash-landed. Snow storms had driven the pilot 150 miles off course when he was forced to land in a cornfield. No one was hurt. Their record earned them the number two pick in the 1960 NBA Draft. The team selected Jerry West from West Virginia University. During the 1960 offseason, the Lakers became the NBA's first West Coast team when owner Bob Short decided to move the team to Los Angeles. Led by Baylor's 34.8 ppg and 19.8 rpg, Los Angeles won 11 more than the