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Lakers Moments: The first team

May 25, 2011 |  3:30 pm

Click here to read more about the 1948-1949 season. The inaugural bunch: From left, Donnie Forman, Herm Schaefer, Don Carlson, Don Smith, Tony Jaros, Johnny Jorgensen, Earl Gardner, Arnie Ferrin, Jack Dwan, Jim Pollard and George Mikan.

The Minneapolis Lakers jumped from the National Basketball League to the Basketball Assn. of America in time for the 1948-49 season. The reason the BAA wanted the Lakers? George Mikan, who quickly became the league's biggest draw. When the Lakers went to New York to face the Knicks, the marquee at Madison Square Garden read "George Mikan vs. Knicks."

Mikan averaged 28.3 points per game during the season, but the Lakers finished in second place in the BAA's Western Division, one game behind the Rochester Royals.

In the playoffs, the Lakers swept the Chicago Stags in the first round to advance to the division finals, where they swept the Royals. The best-of-seven BAA Finals came next, and the Lakers faced the Washington Capitals, who were coached by Red Auerbach. It looked like an easy sweep when the Lakers won the first three games, but Mikan broke his wrist in Game 4. Mikan played Game 5 with a cast on his hand and scored 22 points in a loss. But the Lakers wrapped it up with a 77-56 Game 6 victory to win their first title.

Read more about the 1948-1949 season in All Things Lakers, the L.A. Times' interactive database of all things purple and gold.

Join the Lakers at L.A. Times Facebook page.

-- Houston Mitchell

Photo: Lakers organization