Should Minnesota Feel Happy for the Lakers?



By Shaymus McLaughlin

It’s now been over a week since the Los Angeles Lakers won the NBA championship, their 15th overall as a franchise, and I’m still not sure how I feel about it. As a sports fan, it’s certainly a wonderful story. Kobe was finally able to win without the great Shaq-Fu, Phil Jackson jumped ahead of Red Auerbach for the most NBA titles, Lamar Odom was able to overcome his odious candy addiction and provide great play in the Finals, Pau won his first championship, and Derek Fisher achieved a scientific breakthrough- bringing himself back from the dead after flat-lining for 82 straight regular season games.

 Here’s my problem: I’m a Minnesotan at heart, and I can’t get over the fact that the Lakers used to be ours. That should be 15 championships for the Minneapolis Lakers, not the Los Angeles “We don’t actually have any lakes” Lakers.

 Should I be happy that the team with strong ties to my home state won again? Maybe I should, but I simply can’t. It’s like trying to root for your ex-girlfriend, who hit the dating scene with consistent success right after the break-up and is now married to a ridiculously rich and handsome guy, and the couple have nothing but great memories that nobody will stop talking about. Meanwhile, 30 years later you’re still trying to reclaim what was lost with a girl who can’t do anything right (Really, Timberwolves!?! $48 million for Marko Jaric? Really?!) minn-lakers-team-photo

 To be perfectly honest, I think I would be legitimately happy for the Lakers if it weren’t for one big thing:

  We Minnesotans don’t get any credit here, and frankly, we should. Not even a mention from fans, sports channels, columns, articles…nobody. It’s like the Lakers’ humble Midwest roots have been overshadowed by the glitz and glamour of L.A., and now nobody even knows the beginnings of the Lakers’ rich history.

 Nobody mentions that, of the Lakers’ 15 total championships, five of them came while the Lakers were still in Minneapolis. That’s a third of the Lakers’ rings. And not only that, we managed to get those five championships in just six years! The only other professional basketball team that can match the Minneapolis Lakers’ pace is Bill Russell’s Celtics (who won eight in a row starting in 1959, just a few years after Minneapolis won its last NBA title… and yes, I’m still slamming my head into the desk after writing that).

 We were the first repeat champions (1949 and 1950), had one of the first franchise players in George Mikan, won the first ever NBA Championship after the NBL and BAA merger in 1949, and accomplished three titles in a row from 1952 to 1954. This run established the Minneapolis Lakers as the first NBA dynasty. We have six players and one coach in the Hall of Fame, despite existing for only twelve years. Think about it: We pumped out Hall of Famers like Tyler Perry pumps out underwhelming movies. It’s a nearly unprecedented pace. 

 Yet NOBODY EVER MENTIONS any of this. When Lakers history is discussed, people talk about Magic Johnson, Kobe, Jerry West, Kareem, Wilt Chamberlain, Pat Riley… all from their time in L.A. Never do we hear about Jim Pollard or Vern Mikkelsen. lakers

 The Lakers were conceived, born, and raised by Minnesota. The LA Lakers are essentially Minnesota’s child. In real life, when a child grows up and has success as an adult, people always give some credit to the parents. “You must have been raised well,” they say. The Lakers were raised as well as any child or team could hope for. Minnesotans threw their support behind the team for many years, and the Minneapolis Lakers responded by doing the only thing that fans truly ask for: win championships.

 Now, every time I hear the name LA Lakers, I can’t help but cringe a little bit. The fact that they retained the name Lakers, despite the obvious lack of lakes in the area, just feels like rubbing salt on the wound. Remember that ex-girlfriend from earlier? Imagine if the ridiculously rich and handsome guy she married was a movie star, so her name was constantly coming up in the news. That’s how it feels when I hear someone talk about the LA Lakers.

 I wasn’t even around for those early titles, so it’s not that I’m bitter. Ok, maybe I am a little bit. But I can’t help it, and I don’t blame any other Minnesotan if they feel the same way. It’s a parent’s natural instinct to hope their child succeeds like the Los Angeles Lakers have, but it’s also natural to want them around forever. Especially so when they reach the nearly unprecedented heights that the L.A. Lakers have. But just like in your personal life, you should never forget where the foundation for the future success was initially laid.


  1. paulmbanks says

    I still wonder why they kept the name when they moved? to quote “Baseketball” The Houston Oilers moved to Tennessee where there is no oil, the New Orleans Jazz moved to Utah where they don’t allow music”

    great debut S, keep up the good work

  2. I’m pretty sure most teams kept names for fan recognition, whereas now it seems as though every team’s logo or uniforms change every two years or so and it must be really marketable to change names for teams now. I honestly didn’t know the Lakers played in Minnesota until a couple of years ago when we parked in the basketball arena by the Twinkiedome. My guess for why they don’t talk about the Minnesota Lakers is probably the same reasons they don’t associate Milwaukee with the Braves championships in the city: marketability and name recognition.

  3. Shaymus McLaughlin says

    I can’t stand the Jazz name, nor the Oilers when they were around. It doesn’t make sense! Wouldn’t people get mad if like, the Avalanche moved to Miami or something? The Miami Avalanche…it’s clearly wrong, so fix it.

    Actually, what would be the absolute worst city-team combination out of all existing franchises? Miami Avalanche would have to be up there…

  4. Peter Christian says

    Jake hit it on the head… kind of. With a team like the Braves or Dodgers, Lakers, Jazz, Giants, A’s moving they had a history of success and a fan base to adhere to. Even the Jazz had Pistol Pete to garner national attention. Whereas teams with a crappy history get their name change, a re-birth of sorts. Take the Senators (of Washington) x2, the Expos, the Nordiques, the Jets(Winnipeg) and the Oilers. Of course you have some names that don’t really make sense: Lakers, Dodgers, Flames, Cardinals (in Arizona) and on down the line.

  5. samsvoboda says

    Very interesting article… it’s hard to say that the LA Lakers can’t count those first five titles, since it’s the same exact franchise, just in a different location. However, of course Minnesotans deserve a claim as well- I can’t imagine, for example, if the Bulls moved, some other city claiming the six titles in the 90s (and all of the upcoming ones that D-Rose will be leading them to, of course)

  6. Shaymus McLaughlin says

    @samsvoboda It’s not so much that they shouldn’t count for the Lakers, just that people should realize it wasn’t all in LA. The team was plenty successful before their more well-known LA success started. The championships count in the total, but there should be an asterisk of some sort, because I’m selfish and want MN to get some credit : )

    And it’s not like we Minnesotans have any other basketball titles to hang our hats on…

    -Praying for Ricky Rubio in Wolves uniform next year-

  7. i agree with everything said in this article. the author must be a sports genius!

  8. Patrick Herbert says

    Franchises should change names now just to sell more memorabilia. Oklahoma City had the right idea in that regard.

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