Two major events that defined and contributed to making the NBA what it is occurred in Los Angeles Lakers history on Dec. 12.
On this date in 1971, the Lakers took on the Atlanta Hawks at The Forum. Up to that point, the Washington Capitols, over a period of two seasons, and the Milwaukee Bucks shared the record for longest winning streak in NBA history — 20 wins.
But a team comprised of countless legendary talents led the way for a memorable season. Jerry West, Wilt Chamberlain, Gail Goodrich, and Elgin Baylor formed one of the earliest intimidating quartets of stars. They were accompanied by role players Pat Riley, Flynn Robinson, and Jim McMillan.
The 1971-72 Lakers not only defeated the Hawks to break the NBA record for longest winning streak, they extended it to an 33 games before falling to a Bucks team led by none other than Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
The winning streak was a sample as to what the Lakers had in store for the rest of the NBA that season, as they went go on to capture the NBA championship that same year. It would be West’s lone NBA championship during his historic career, as the Lakers finally broke through with the aid of Chamberlain and Baylor.
Many teams have come within striking distance of the Lakers’ all-time record. Most notably, the Golden State Warriors accomplished the second-highest streak with 28 consecutive wins over a span of two seasons.
As fate would have it, Abdul-Jabbar was later involved in a memorable moment that benefitted the Lakers. On Dec. 12, 1984, he scored 15 points in 21 minutes to become the first player in NBA history to surpass the 32,000-point threshold.
Abdul-Jabbar went on to score a total of 38,387 points, still standing as the leading scorer in the history of basketball.
The Hall-of-Famer had a historic 20-year career, before embarking on countless intellectual journeys following his playing career.
WANT TO PARTICIPATE IN THE DISCUSSION? CHECK OUT THE NEW LAKERS NATION FORUM CLUB