|Posted by shawn cassidy on March 25, 2013 at 2:20 AM|
The Bobcats were placed on a little league t-ball tee, and set up for a crushing shot over the home-run wall. The Heat's streak is impressive. I don't want my hate to fog my judgement and fairness. But I found this article over at the LA Times that shed some light on how hard the Lakers had it in 71-72.
The wins kept coming. So did the games.
Three in a row. Five in six days.
It didn't matter that the rest of the NBA, and the calendar, conspired against the Lakers 41 seasons ago.
Logistics couldn't bother them in a season when they didn't seem to grasp the meaning of Ls.
The team that would win 33 consecutive games, still the longest streak for a major U.S. professional team, often arrived in a city on a midday flight and played a game that evening, a no-no in today's NBA.
"Some of our travel was maybe more difficult than the games we played," recalled Jerry West, the legendary guard on a team that also included three other Hall of Famers in Wilt Chamberlain, Gail Goodrich and, briefly, Elgin Baylor.
The Lakers also endured four sets of back-to-back-to-back games and three additional back-to-backs during a streak that lasted more than two months during the 1971-72 season. Current league rules allow only back-to-back games in seasons not shortened by lockouts.
"That, in one way, makes our streak even more remarkable, 33 with that situation," Goodrich said.
The Miami Heat, winner of 25 games in a row, is approaching the Lakers' streak, albeit while enjoying the perks of charter flights and more breaks between games.
The NBA in some fans, and critics is water down today, and I agree. I do believe the talent is better just for the fact that players are bigger,faster, and stronger. The NBA players of today are pampered, and I suppose that's okay. But let's not forget about the past, and how hard these guys had it. They were treated like amateurs, and not like gifted professional athletes. The Lakers road to 33 in a row was tougher without a doubt.
So while the debates commence — would you rather have Chamberlain or LeBron James? West or Dwyane Wade? — there is no disputing which team faced the more eyelid-drooping itinerary while attaining purple-and-gold status of legendary proportions.
The Lakers flew commercially in those days, catching the first flight out of town when they traveled and often playing later that night. They carried their own basketballs and knew what to do with them.
Flying commercially? Not today. Theses guys are treated like kings, and of course James is the biggest prince or king of them all.
"A lot of times the game was over at 10:30, 11" at night, remembered point guard Jim Cleamons, the only rookie on the team. "You'd go back to the hotel, try to grab something to eat and if your uniform was wet, you hung it up to dry a little bit. If there was a 7 o'clock plane the next morning, that means you had to be at the airport by 6 or a little bit after, so your wake-up call was at 5:30 and you had to be packed and down in the lobby to catch a cab or the bus to the airport."
The Lakers often traveled alone early in the streak. The Times didn't send a reporter on the road with the team for some games that season.
Big Baby wouldn't be able to eat a plate of spaghetti, and pancakes in time for a big back then. The winning percent of teams is below .500 for the Heat. They are handed gifts of Detroit, Cleveland, and Charlotte since seeing the Celtics. I'll be honest I haven't seen every game, but all I see on message boards, and twitter is that the refs are giving these games away. Perhaps that is true, and I think in that day in age the refs had more integrity. If I'm wrong on that please let me know. The Heat are at 26 in a row with another bad team ready to go Monday night. The Magic are one of the worst teams in the league, and it should be an easy win for the Heat.
Categories: Lakers News