West: Heat can break his Lakers’ record
by Jeff Zillgitt, USA TODAY Sports
The travel, Hall of Famer Jerry West recalls, was brutal. The Los Angeles Lakers flew commercial on the first flight out the morning after playing a game the night before. No charter jets with catered meals. No luxury hotels. None of the perks of NBA players traveling today.
But West and the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers got themselves out of bed on road mornings, went to the next city and won. And they won at home. They won 33 consecutive games and established a record that appeared to be unbreakable.
“Some of our travel was maybe more difficult than the games we played,” West said.
The schedule was rough, too. Not just back-to-backs. But multiple back-to-back-to-backs – three games in three nights, including four sets of them during the Lakers’ record streak.
“Frankly, I didn’t mind three games in a row. I really didn’t,” West said. “For me, you’re much more focused. All you had to do was worry about trying to get some rest, which was difficult because we did not fly privately. For us at that point in time, I don’t think any of us thought it was anything other than another day at work. But it wasn’t work. It was fun.”
West and his former teammates are back in the news, more than 40 years later, because of the Miami Heat. With a 98-95 comeback win against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday, the Heat have won 24 consecutive games, walking up sidewalk and getting ready to knock on the door of the Lakers’ record.
But the Lakers didn’t just have tough travel and tough scheduling to hurdle, they had to face good teams several times. Back when the Lakers were ruling the world, there were 17 teams. There are 30 in the league today.
“I see a lot of players in the league today that I don’t think are very good,” West said. “Expansion has diluted the talent. It hasn’t made talent better. It’s harder to get a lot of good players on one team today.”
But that doesn’t mean West isn’t impressed with the Heat’s streak.
In fact, he is.
“It’s really kind of an exciting … [For more on Jerry West says Heat can break his Lakers' record, click here.]