Bill Bertka is the director of scouting and a basketball consultant for the Lakers, and has been with the franchise for nearly 40 years. Bertka spoke with Mark Truddel over at Lakers.com about what his proudest moment has been for the franchise.
“Maybe my proudest moment would be, I recommended Jim McMillian to Fred Schaus to draft,” said Bertka. “Jim McMillian was a 6-foot-5 small forward from Columbia University. Elgin Baylor retired in 1971, in the beginning of the 71-72 season Jim McMillian took his spot. Elgin retired and McMillan took his spot. The day he took his spot, that team won 33 straight games, no discredit to Elgin, but that team took off.”
Schaus was the team’s general manager at the time and, after taking Bertka’s advice, saw the Lakers go on what is still the longest winning streak in NBA history. That year, Jerry West would get his first and only title in his NBA career. McMillan averaged 18 points per game that season and shot 48 percent from the field.
Two teams have threatened the Lakers 33-game winning streak in recent years. The Rockets had a 22-game winning streak in 2008 and the Miami had a 27-game winning streak this past season, but no team has had a season quite like the 1972 Lakers, thanks in large part to Bertka.
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