For as much as the Los Angeles Lakers have accomplished, it’s important to remember the franchise’s history traces back to Minneapolis. It’s there that the foundation to what the organization has become was first laid.
The origin of the Lakers set the standard early on, as the team from Minneapolis brought about one of the league’s first dynasties. On this day in Lakers history, George Mikan and Minneapolis became the first team in NBA history to win three consecutive championships.
April 12 set the stage for Game 7 of the 1954 NBA Finals, as the Lakers clashed against the Syracuse Nationals. Hall-of-Famers Dolph Schayes and Early Lloyd led the way for the Nationals.
With everything on the line, the teams got out to a combined of 31 points after the first quarter. Although that is low by today’s standards, Game 7 would end up being the highest scoring game of the series.
The Lakers held a 38-32 lead at halftime, putting them 24 minutes away from history. The defending champions were anchored by the consistent play of Mikan, both as a reliable option on offense and tower in the paint on defense.
However, Jim Pollard would provide the primary scoring punch in front of the crowd of 7,274. He finished the game with a team-high 21 points on 8-for-15 shooting, while knocking down five of seven free throws.
The third quarter proved to be more of the same, as the Lakers outscored the Nationals by five points to take a 65-54 lead into the fourth. When it was all said and done, Mikan and his teammates were able to persevere and hold on.
The Nationals managed to narrow their deficit, but Minneapolis sealed the deal with an 87-80 Game 7 victory. Clyde Lovellette and Slater Martin stood alongside Pollard and Mikan as double-digit scorers, while Schayes led the Nationals with 18 points.
The 1954 title was the last of Mikan’s five total championships. Unfortunately for the Lakers, it would also mark the beginning of the franchise’s longest championship drought during their illustrious history, as they would go 18 years before returning to the mountaintop.
However, April 12 remains a historic day for the Lakers, cementing a dynasty that dominated the 1950s.