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Wednesday, November 19, 2003
A fan-tastic NBA beginning and a fond farewell
By Larry Schwartz
Special to ESPN.com
April 23, 1950
In the summer of '49, the six surviving National Basketball League teams are absorbed into the Basketball Association of America and the league is renamed the National Basketball Association. It makes no difference what the league is called; George Mikan still comes out a champion.
For the third consecutive year, Mikan's Minneapolis Lakers are the pro champions. With the 6-foot-10 center scoring 40 points, the Lakers beat the Syracuse Nationals, 110-95, in Game 6 to win the NBA title before 9,812 fans, the largest crowd to see a pro basketball game in Minneapolis.
In 1948, the Lakers were champions of the NBL and in 1949 they won the BAA title.
Three fights spice tonight's game, with police intervening in a first-quarter bout between the Lakers' Jim Pollard and the Nats' Paul Seymour.
Four Lakers, including Mikan, foul out in the bruising game. Dolph Schayes leads Syracuse with 23 points, 18 in the fourth quarter.
April 23, 1989
The Los Angeles Lakers bid Kareem Abdul-Jabbar a stylish farewell. Kareem's 25th -- and final -- stop on his retirement tour comes at home at the Forum. Among the presents he receives during a 45-minute retirement ceremony are a 1989 Rolls Royce "Silver Light" (reported cost: $175,000) from his teammates and a lighted tennis court to be installed at his home in Hawaii from Lakers owner Jerry Buss.
"Sometimes we take this team thing for granted," Lakers coach Pat Riley says. "We get jaded and cynical. (Kareem) is not just another guy. He's larger than life, and we've had the opportunity to be with him."
Though unaccustomed to public displays of affection, Abdul-Jabbar seems genuinely moved by the ceremony. "It was kind of hard to cry," he says. "When I'm happy, I'll smile." And, for a change, Abdul-Jabbar is smiling a lot.
In his last regular-season game of his 20-year career, Abdul-Jabbar scores 10 points in the Lakers' 121-117 victory over the Seattle Sonics. He retires as the NBA's all-time leading scorer with 38,387 points among his plethora of records. He is the only player to win six MVP awards.
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