BY POLISHING OFF THE MAGIC IN FIVE GAMES, THE LAKERS NOT ONLY pulled the franchise within two of Boston in the chase for the most league championship hardware (they have 15 titles; the Celtics have 17), but L.A. also asserted its dominance when it comes to front-page coverage in SPORTS ILLUSTRATED. In 55 years the Lakers have appeared on the cover 81 times (nine of which are shown here), while Boston has 49. Only the New York Yankees have more, with 91, but Kobe, Pau & Co. look poised to give the Bronx Bombers a run.
APRIL 29, 1968
Elgin Baylor (left) and Jerry West helped establish the Lakers-Celtics rivalry in the 1960s.
MAY 15, 1972
Wilt the Stilt ended an 18-year title drought.
MAY 26, 1980
Finals MVP as a mere rookie—an NBA first.
DECEMBER 23, 1985
Abdul-Jabbar's 19th of 22 covers was an honor.
NOVEMBER 11, 1996
Shaq was L.A.'s latest legendary big man.
APRIL 27, 1998
Johnson's magic rubbed off on his successor.
JUNE 12, 2000
The Lakers' first title since '88 wasn't easy...
JUNE 4, 2001
...but they rolled to a second (of three) in '01.
JUNE 22, 2009
Seven years removed from L.A.'s last title—and five years after Shaq split—Kobe delivered number 15.