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LAKERS HISTORY

On this page I'll write reviews of the movies I see and books I read. I might use a format similar to this for my reviews.

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Movie Reviews

1995-96: Magic Returns To The Court

The 1995-96 season gave the Lakers much cause for optimism. After all, they were coming off of a first round upset of the Seattle Sonics and their best season since 1990-91. Not many, though, could have predicted that "Showtime" would return to Los Angeles with the return of Magic Johnson.

The Lakers were already a talented team - featuring Nick Van Exel and second-year player Eddie Jones in the backcourt and a frontline of Vlade Divac, Elden Campbell and Cedric Ceballos. On January 30, they added a legend. Johnson, who after talking about it for years, finally made the decision to come out of retirement.

Although his statistics were impressive (15.3 ppg, 8.5 rpg and 6.5 apg), his arrival did upset the delicate chemistry of a team that had gotten a whole lot younger. In spite of the turmoil, which included a brief unexcused absence by leading scorer Ceballos, the Lakers returned among the league's elite, posting 53 wins, and a second place finish in the Pacific Division..

In the playoffs, the Lakers had the challenge of unseating the two-time defending champion Houston Rockets. Not even the Magic of Magic could save the Lakers, who fell to the Rockets in four games.

The conclusion of the season began an offseason of change for the Lakers, who stayed true to their history and acquired a franchise center in the rich tradition of Chamberlain and Abdul-Jabbar. The arrival of Shaquille O'Neal necessitated the trading of longtime center Vlade Divac, and the trading or renouncement of several other veterans. A new look Laker team would take the floor in 1996-97.


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1996-97: Shaquille Goes Showtime

The Los Angeles Lakers dipped into the free agent coffers prior to the 1996-97, wresting away prized center Shaquille O'Neal from the Orlando Magic. O'Neal, a 7-1 center with a rare combination of power and quickness, averaged 27.2 ppg and 12.5 rpg in four seasons with the Magic, leading Orlando to the NBA Finals in 1995.

O'Neal was just the tonic to rekindle championship hopes in Los Angeles. He paid immediate dividends for the Lakers, leading them to a 56-26 record, their best effort since 1990-91, despite missing 31 games with a knee injury. O'Neal averaged 26.2 ppg and 12.5 rpg (but did not qualify for the league leaders in either category due to his injury), and finished third in the league in blocked shots (2.88 bpg) and fourth in field goal accuracy (.557). In the 51 games that O'Neal played, Los Angeles was 38-13.

Opponents of the Lakers were faced with more than a Shaq Attack. The team featured several of the quickest, youngest, most versatile players in the NBA, including Nick Van Exel, Eddie Jones, Elden Campbell and Robert Horry, as well as an 18-year-old rookie, Kobe Bryant, who showed flashes of brilliance at All-Star Weekend, winning the Slam Dunk competition and scoring a game-high 31 points in the Rookie Game.

Jones (17.2 ppg) received his first All-Star berth, while Van Exel averaged 15.3 ppg and finished eighth in the NBA with 8.5 apg. His 23 assists against Vancouver on Jan. 5 were an NBA season high. Campbell also enjoyed the best season of his career, averaging 14.9 ppg and 8.0 rpg, and filling in ably during the O'Neal injury. Horry, acquired from Phoenix for Cedric Ceballos during the season, provided additional spark, setting an NBA playoff record for three-point playoff goals without a miss with a 7-for-7 effort against the Utah Jazz.

Despite Horry's heroics, the Jazz was more than the Lakers could handle. The Lakers dispatched Portland in the first round before losing to Utah in the Western Conference Semifinals, 4-1. O'Neal's 46-point effort in Game 1 against the Trail Blazers marked the highest single-game playoff scoring output by a Laker since Jerry West tallied 53 against the Boston Celtics in 1969.


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1997-98: Showtime Once Again

In the second season of the Shaquille O'Neal era, the Los Angeles Lakers survived early injuries to the gargantuan center, then climbed upon his broad shoulders and ascended all the way to a 61-win season and a berth in the Western Conference Finals.

O'Neal and the Lakers immediately served notice of their improvement with the best start in franchise history. The Lakers started 11-0, then endured a stretch of 20 games that O'Neal missed because of an abdominal injury. That key stretch, during which the Lakers were 13-7, gave other players the opportunity to step up and prove that the Lakers proved they were more than a one man show.

In Shaq's absence, Nick Van Exel, Eddie Jones and Kobe Bryant stepped into the limelight and shined, picking up the offensive slack while Elden Campbell manned the middle. Versatile forwards Robert Horry, Rick Fox and Derek Fisher rounded out the nucleus of the one of the youngest and quickest teams in the NBA - the only NBA team without a single player over the age of 30. With Jones, Bryant and Van Exel running and gunning, and the January return of the dominant O'Neal inside, the Lakers possessed the most prolific offense in the NBA (105.5 ppg). All four players were rewarded for their effort, as the Lakers became the first team in 15 seasons to send four players to the All-Star Game.

All season, the Lakers found themselves embroiled in a fierce battle with Seattle for the Pacific Division title. On Mar. 16, Seattle scored a 101-89 win to take a four-game lead in the division with only five weeks remaining in the season. But the Lakers wouldn't give up. In the final two months of the season, no team played better ball than the Lakers, who won 22 of their final 25 games. O'Neal led the team in scoring in all but two of those games, including a 50-point effort in a 117-106 win over New Jersey.

O'Neal averaged 28.3 ppg for the season to finish a close second to Michael Jordan (28.7 ppg) in the scoring race, and was among league-leaders in rebounds (11.4 rpg) and blocks (2.40 bpg), while leading the league with a field-goal percentage of 58.4 percent. With their late-season surge, the Lakers captured Seattle atop the Pacific at 61-21. Their paths crossed in the second round, after the Lakers disposed of Portland with a 3-1 win in the first-round best-of-five. A series destined to be a classic instead was a one-sided affair. After Seattle won the first game, the Lakers responded with four straight wins, making quick work of their division rival.

What looked to be a Laker steamroller rolled to a halt in Salt Lake City, where the Lakers were swept in four games by the Utah Jazz, putting a damper on an otherwise exceptional season in which Los Angeles was stopped one series short of reaching the Finals for the first time since 1991.


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This is an awesome movie about a group of kids in high school. I guarantee you'll laugh a lot, especially at the scene with the apple pie.
-Posted 4/15/00

Book Reviews

Life Belts, by Jane Hosie-Bounar

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1998-99: Busy Times in Brief Season

The Lakers made a blockbuster trade, changed coaches, brought a seven-time rebounding champion on board for awhile and closed out their historic arena. In other words, they squeezed an entire year's worth of action into a lockout-shortened season.

By the time the regular season was over, Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant had led the Lakers to a 31-19 record. They advanced to the Western Conference semifinals, where they lost to San Antonio in four games.

The Lakers' 118-107 loss to the Spurs in Game 4 on May 23, 1999, marked the last meaningful game in the Great Western Forum, home to six championship teams in 32 years. Los Angeles would play two more preseason games at the Forum the following season before moving into the brand-new Staples Center.

Early in the 1998-99 season, the Lakers made three significant moves in a three-day span. It started Feb. 23 when they signed Dennis Rodman, a member of five NBA championship teams and one of the top rebounders in league history. He would average 11.2 boards in 23 games before being waived April 15.

One day after signing Rodman - with the team sporting a 6-6 record - Los Angeles relieved head coach Del Harris of his duties. Assistant coach Kurt Rambis took over Feb. 26 for the rest of the season.


On March 10, the Lakers and Charlotte Hornets pulled off a deal involving All-Stars Glen Rice and Eddie Jones. L.A. sent Jones and Elden Campbell to Charlotte for Rice, J.R. Reid and B.J. Armstrong, who was subsequently waived. Rice averaged 17.5 points in 27 games and 18.3 ppg in the playoffs for the Lakers.

O'Neal, who was named All-NBA Second Team, averaged 26.3 points and narrowly lost the league scoring title to Philadelphia's Allen Iverson (26.8). Bryant scored 19.9 points per game and was All-NBA Third Team.


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1999-2000: Return to Dominance

The 1999-2000 season was the beginning of a new era in Los Angeles Lakers basketball. The team hired a new head coach in former Chicago Bulls lead man Phil Jackson, and for the first time in 31 years the Lakers would play their home games somewhere other than the Great Western Forum, as the club moved into the brand new 18,997-seat STAPLES Center in Downtown Los Angeles.


Jackson brought with him three new assistant coaches in Jim Cleamons (a former player on the Lakers 1971-72 squad), Frank Hamblen and Tex Winter, and along with holdover Bill Bertka, that quartet would form one of the most experienced assistant coaching teams in the NBA. The team also took on a different look as veterans A.C. Green, Ron Harper, John Salley and Brian Shaw were added to the roster.

Shaquille O'Neal began the season with a vengeance as he earned NBA Player of the Month honors for November after averaging 28.7 points, 13.4 rebounds and 3.36 blocked shots in the first month of the season. O'Neal continued his dominating ways as he earned Player of the Month honors two more times, in February and March, becoming the first player to receive Player of the Month accolades three different times in the same season. O'Neal was also named the MVP of the 2000 All-Star Game played in Oakland and was joined there for the second time by teammate Kobe Bryant.

Not limited to individual efforts, the new coaching staff, the veteran additions, and the returning players all meshed incredibly well as the club got off to a fast start, registering wins in 25 of their first 30 games and reeling off a 16-game winning streak in the first half of the season. The streaks continued as the Lakers also added a 19-game winning streak and an 11-game winning streak to become only the third NBA team to register three different double-figure winning streaks in the same season.

The Lakers stormed though the regular season achieving the best record in the league (67-15) and earning homecourt advantage throughout the playoffs. Though they were heavily favored, the team struggled to get out of the first round, needing five games to defeat the Sacramento Kings. The next round was less difficult as the Lakers knocked off the Phoenix Suns in five games. The Western Conference Finals against the Portland Trail Blazers went to seven games, as the Lakers staged a miraculous comeback. Trailing by 13 points entering the fourth quarter of Game Seven, the Lakers fought back to win the game and the Western Conference Championship. Boosted by their improbable comeback, the Lakers went on to defeat the Indiana Pacers in six games, earning their first NBA Championship since 1988. O'Neal (First Team) and Bryant (Second Team) were named to the All-NBA teams and both were also named to the NBA's All-Defensive Teams, with Bryant becoming the youngest player to ever receive All-Defensive honors. O'Neal became only the third player to be named Most Valuable Player of the regular season, All-Star Game and the NBA Finals.


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2000-01: Back to Back-to-Back
With a nucleus that included two of the NBA's best players in Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant and a head coach that has won seven NBA titles in Phil Jackson, the Lakers began the season with aspirations of winning a second consecutive NBA Championship.


After struggling to contain the Western Conference's high scoring power forwards in the playoffs, Los Angeles dealt Glen Rice and Travis Knight to the New York Knicks in a three-way deal involving the Seattle SuperSonics, which netted power forward Horace Grant and center Greg Foster. Having played under Jackson earlier in their careers, both Grant and Foster were skilled in running the Lakers triangle offense, and Grant was to provide a solid defensive and rebounding presence.

Derek Fisher began the season on the injured list after being diagnosed with a stress fracture in his right foot and would miss the first 62 games of the season. The rest of the team also got off to a slow start and was 31-16 at the All-Star break, already picking up one more loss than during the entire 1999-2000 campaign. The Lakers battled through injuries to Fisher, O'Neal and Bryant, but as the club returned to full health, the Lakers began to pick up steam heading into the postseason.

After a 96-88 win over the Utah Jazz at the Delta Center on April 3, the Lakers ran off eight consecutive victories, their longest winning streak of the season, and were able to claim their second consecutive Pacific Division title, edging out the Sacramento Kings in the last week of the season. Los Angeles would not lose another contest until Game 1 of the NBA Finals against the Philadelphia 76ers, sweeping Portland, Sacramento and San Antonio. Philadelphia surprised the Lakers with a 107-101 overtime victory at STAPLES Center, but Los Angeles went on to victories in each of the next four games to claim a second consecutive NBA title. O'Neal was named Finals MVP after averaging 33.0 points and 15.8 rebounds against Philadelphia and was again a First Team All-NBA selection. Fisher returned from injury to convert 35 three-pointers throughout the playoffs, setting an NBA record with 15 threes in the four-game series against San Antonio. Bryant earned Second Team All-NBA and Second-Team All-Defense honors