Throwback Thursday commemorates a historic NBA event that occurred on this day 44 years ago – the final victory of the Los Angeles Lakers’ legendary 33-match winning streak, which still stands as a league record for any franchise.
The Lakers, perennial bridesmaids who lost NBA Finals to the Celtics six times and the Knicks once during the previous decade, appeared to have missed their Championship window with the great Elgin Baylor retiring just nine games into the 1971-72 season.
But the Bill Sharman-coached side began an unprecedented run in November of ’71, remaining unbeaten through to the end of the year and shattering the Milwaukee Bucks’ all-time record of 20 consecutive wins.
The Lakers hammered the Atlanta Hawks 134-90 on January 7, 1972, to extend the streak to 33, before – somewhat fittingly – the Bucks rolled them 120-104 two days later.
With future Hall-of-Famers Wilt Chamberlain, Jerry West and Gail Goodrich in dominant form, the Lakers eventually finished atop the Western Conference with a 69-13 record – destroying the previous best by an NBA side – before casting the Chicago Bulls (4-0) and Bucks (4-2) aside in the playoffs.
The Lakers snapped an 18-year Championship drought via an emphatic 4-1 triumph over the Knicks in the NBA Finals.
Chicago eclipsed Los Angeles’ mark for the best regular-season record by finished 72-10 in their 1995-96 campaign, but the Lakers’ 33 wins in a row remains unmatched.
The Heat’s 27 straight in 2013 is the closest any team has come to the hallowed record, with the Golden State Warriors’ unparalleled 24 wins to begin the current season the third-longest winning streak in NBA history.