Packing a whopping 22 hours of content on five double-sided discs, Los Angeles Lakers: The Complete History
is a treasure trove for fans of the purple and gold. In fact, even the ambitious title doesn't do the set justice, as the opening 2002 documentary traces the franchise to its Minnesota roots and a vintage 1953 feature shows the game's first dominant big man, George Mikan, in action. The glitzier West Coast years--Wilt, West, Magic, Kareem, Shaq, Kobe, et al.--are the primary focus, of course, and this set, one of the first two entries in the NBA Dynasty series (along with the slightly less-substantial Chicago Bulls: The 1990s
), collects seven of the highlight videos that were released on VHS (2000 and 2002 were also on DVD), which provide a time-capsule look at each of the championship seasons.
The real joy of the set, however, is nine NBA playoff games presented as they were originally broadcast and almost in their entirety. They last about 90-100 minutes with TV introductions and post-game interviews, but minus halftime, commercials, and some slower moments. The games include such absolute classics as the game in which rookie Magic Johnson started at center in place of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and the 1987 "baby hook" game against the Boston Celtics. If you're used to watching current NBA games you might be tempted to just skip to the end, but it's surprisingly rewarding to watch the game develop, to watch the game's superstars strut their stuff (or see a couple of 1972 reserves named Phil Jackson and Pat Riley), and to observe how radically the sport has changed over the years. Variable picture quality and technical glitches are unavoidable (even the 2002 game looks washed out), but this is the first time complete or nearly complete NBA games have been available in the home-video era, and they probably still look better than the VHS tapes you've been saving over the years. Yes, it'd be easy to argue about which games from the Lakers' long history should have been included, and the highlight videos don't have a ton of replay value, but the NBA Dynasty series is a major milestone in archived sports. --David Horiuchi
Over the past 50 years the Lakers have won an unprecedented 14 championships, making them the best NBA franchise ever. This five-disc special edition collector's set features the complete Lakers history including year-end compilation programs highlighting the Championship seasons from the 1950s through 2002. Plus for the first time ever on DVD, the team's most memorable Finals games including its first championship win in Los Angeles, Magic's "baby hook" game in 1987, and back-to-back title games.