The Los Angeles Lakers were founded in 1947, but their true origins lie in the Midwest.
The Los Angeles Lakers nickname history stretches back 74 years to when the team was first introduced into the NBA. The Lakers’ franchise technically began as the Detroit Gems of the National Basketball League. They only played one season in the league, recording a 4-40 record before being bought out by investors.
In 1947, Ben Berger and Morris Chalfen of Minnesota bought the Gems for $15,000. They then relocated to Minneapolis and acquired George Mikan, one of the first dominant “big men.” Mikan and a Lakers team studded with future Hall-of-Famers would win four of the first five NBA titles, establishing the first dynasty in professional basketball.
How did the Los Angeles Lakers get their nickname?
Obviously, the “Lakers” nickname doesn’t make much sense for the metropolitan area of Los Angeles. Instead, the name’s roots ties back to the Lakers’ old hometown: when the team first settled in Minneapolis in 1947, the investors decided on a name that paid homage to Minnesota, “the Land of 10,000 Lakers.” Thus, the “Lakers” were born. In 1960, the team made the move to Los Angeles and the name – and all of the team’s storied traditions – went with them.
In Los Angeles, the franchise produced some of the greatest ever to play the game including Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, Shaquille O’Neal, LeBron James, and the late Kobe Bryant. Fans may reminisce on their “Showtime” era in the 1980s, which spawned one of the fiercest basketball rivalries of all time between the Lakers and the Boston Celtics and dramatically increased the NBA’s popularity. Over 73 seasons, the Lakers have a 0.595 win percentage overall with 61 playoff appearances. They are currently tied with the Celtics for number of championships won (17).