Lakers Moments: Coach John Kundla sets the precedent
Hip hip hooray: The Minneapolis Lakers hoist Coach John Kundla and carry him to their locker room after beating the New York Knicks in the NBA Finals on April 25, 1952.
Some might consider it blasphemy to suggest someone other than Phil Jackson is the greatest coach in NBA history. Yet, as impressive as Jackson’s record is, he has never enjoyed a streak of dominance like Kundla had from 1948 to 1954, when he guided the Minneapolis Lakers to five league titles in six seasons, including three straight from 1952-54.
Yes, the Lakers’ first coach might well have been the best of all, as he laid the groundwork for an organization that has since become the gold standard of professional basketball in America. In building the NBA’s first true dynasty, Kundla preached the value of a dominant big man in the post — that man being Hall of Fame center George Mikan — and having a premier player at the center position has been a Lakers trademark ever since.
Kundla coached for 11 seasons in the NBA — all in Minneapolis. Of those, there were 95 playoff games for the Lakers, and he compiled a stellar 60-35 record. His 423 regular-season victories and 60 postseason victories are both third most in team history.
Read more about the John Kundla in All Things Lakers, the L.A. Times' interactive database of all things purple and gold.
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-- Steve Galluzzo
Photo credit: Associated Press