The Pivotal Season: How the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers Changed the NBA

Charley Rosen, Author, Phil Jackson, Foreword by
Charley Rosen, Author, Phil Jackson, Foreword by Thomas Dunne Books $24.95 (286p) ISBN 978-0-312-32509-1
Reviewed on: 01/31/2005
Release date: 02/01/2005
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Now a basketball mecca, Los Angeles was once anything but. In the 1960s, the Lakers lost the NBA championship to Boston six times and again in 1970 to New York. By 1971, Laker fans had grown tired of being perennial bride's maids, so much so that, despite a star-studded lineup featuring Wilt Chamberlain, Jerry West and Gail Goodrich, the Lakers' first home game attendance was 2,500 short of capacity. It wasn't until well into ""the streak,"" during which the Lakers won a record 33 straight games, that fans began paying closer attention. Rosen, a columnist for ESPN.com, writes, ""The scoop around the league was that the Lakers' 1970-71 season had marked the team's last chance for glory....The Lakers were the over-the-hill gang and ready for the glue factory."" And yet their new coach, Bill Sharman, ""the best basketball coach nobody ever heard of,"" was determined to turn this aging group into a fast-breaking bunch. Rosen's volume is less about how these Lakers changed the NBA than it is about a team remaking itself in one remarkable season. The narrative pulls the reader deep into the action, describing every game, strategy and key injury, as well as the many records set (a 63-point margin of victory, a record 69 wins and those astounding 33 consecutive wins). Casual fans will likely be overwhelmed by the level of detail presented here, but serious NBA history enthusiasts, and certainly Laker fans, will find this armchair entertainment almost as exciting as watching a Lakers' game on television.
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