Lakers–Warriors rivalry

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Lakers–Warriors rivalry
First meetingNovember 28, 1948
Lakers 88, Warriors 67
Latest meetingMay 12, 2023
Lakers 122, Warriors 101
Next meetingJanuary 27, 2024
Meetings total476
All-time series290–186 (LAL)
Regular season series261–173 (LAL)
Postseason results29–13 (LAL)
Longest win streakLAL W12
Current win streakLAL W1
Postseason history

The Lakers–Warriors rivalry is a National Basketball Association (NBA) rivalry between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Golden State Warriors.[1] Unlike most sports rivalries in California, there is more respect between both teams as opposed to fierce animosity; such as the Dodgers–Giants rivalry in the MLB or 49ers–Rams rivalry of the NFL.[2][3][4] Geography does play a role as both franchises are largely popular within the state, however; the Lakers have historically been extremely dominant in the series as they have won six of the seven playoff matchups against the Warriors, and are tied for most championships in league history.[5][6][7] However; the Warriors had overcome years of playoff futility with the arrival of such players as Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green during the 2010s, winning them four championships from 2015 to 2022.[8][9][10] The Lakers had overcome their own struggles following the retirement of Hall of Fame guard Kobe Bryant, but rebuilt around strong free agent signings with the likes of LeBron James and Anthony Davis, leading them to win the 2020 NBA Finals. Both teams have met eight times in the postseason, combining for 38 division titles since both teams relocated to California in the early 1960s.[11] Notably, prior to his signing with the Lakers; LeBron James had faced off against Stephen Curry and the Warriors in four straight NBA Finals appearances from when he was a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers.[12][13][14] Both teams combine for 24 championships between them. The Lakers lead the all time regular season series 261–173, and the postseason series 29–13.[15][16][17][18]


1960s/1970s: NBA comes to California[edit]

Both teams were introduced into the NBA during the late 1940s, the Warriors joining in 1946 as the Philadelphia Warriors, while the Lakers joined in 1947 as the Minneapolis Lakers. Both franchises began a brief string of success by winning numerous championships by the end of the decade, and even leading into the 1950s. However; poor attendance began to plague both teams, leading into financial issues as the league was unable to support both. Lakers' owner Bob Short took notice of the Dodgers relocation to Los Angeles in 1957, and sought a more lucrative market in California to help the Lakers stay financially viable. Short announced he was relocating the Lakers to Los Angeles for the 1960 season, quickly capitalizing on the growth within the city and helping the Lakers regain a strong following. Meanwhile in 1961 Warriors owner Franklin Mieuli had begun purchasing majority shares in the team. Though iconic players such as Wilt Chamberlain drew modest attendance numbers, Mieuli took notice of the Lakers' relocation to California and sought to do the same in an effort to increase his team's value.

Wilt Chamberlain was an All-Star for both teams during the 1960s and 1970s

The Warriors began play in San Francisco for the 1962–63 NBA season, but found crowds to be adversely responding to the move as initial response saw attendance dip to record-lows. Shortly afterwards; the drafting of Nate Thurmond as a side-weapon for Chamberlain did in fact improve attendance as the team would make an appearance in the 1964 NBA Finals. Despite their best efforts to improve in contention with Chamberlain, he was traded to the upstart-Philadelphia 76ers. Both teams proved to be strong postseason contenders through the 1960s, but ironically would fall to the dynasty of the Bill Russell-led Boston Celtics. Near the end of the decade, both teams would find themselves brand-new arenas in Oakland and Los Angeles respectively. The Warriors began the 1966-67 season strong in their new arena, making an appearance in the Finals, but ironically would fall to the Philadelphia 76ers. Chamberlain would also be traded to the Lakers prior to the start of the 1968 season, after being awarded league MVP the following year.

Despite the frequent championship losses, both teams finally managed to win a championship through the 1970s, the Lakers in 1972 (led by Chamberlain and Jerry West), and the Warriors in 1975 (led by Rick Barry). The Lakers armed with new-signing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar began to rebuild towards playoff contention.

1980s: The Lakers Dynasty[edit]

The Warriors began to experience a strong playoff drought following their loss to the Lakers in the 1976-77 Conference Semifinals. They would fail to make a single postseason appearance for much of the duration of the 1980s. During this time the Lakers had rebuilt into a dynasty of their own, popularly known as the Showtime Lakers. In 1979, new owner Jerry Buss sought to draft Michigan State prospect Magic Johnson, in addition to building a postseason juggernaut around such players as Abdul-Jabbar, James Worthy, Kurt Rambis, and A. C. Green. Near the middle of the decade, the Warriors began a rebuild of their own, dubbed the Run TMC team after teammates: Tim Hardaway, Mitch Richmond and Chris Mullin. The Warriors also lured famed coach George Karl in 1986, also setting them up as strong playoff contenders. Both teams famously met during the 1987 NBA Playoffs. Though the Lakers were heavily favored to crush the Warriors in a sweep, the Warriors still held on by an average margin of 12 points per loss, though the Lakers still won the series handily in a 4-1 victory. Game 4 is still shown on TV in the NBA's Greatest Games series, remembered as an instant classic.[19] The second-half performance by the Warriors' All-Star point guard Sleepy Floyd still stands as the NBA playoff record for points scored in a quarter (29) and in a half (39).

1990s: The Warriors stay Afloat[edit]

With the conclusion of the 1991 NBA Finals, the Lakers' dynasty had begun to fade away as the notorious Michael Jordan-led Chicago Bulls teams regularly toppled opponents in the postseason. The Warriors still managed to emerge as a contender, particularly during the early-1990s after acquiring future all-stars Chris Webber and Latrell Sprewell through the draft. The Lakers sought to rebuild during the latter half of the decade by making several high-profile acquisitions, such as signing legendary center Shaquille O'Neal in 1996 and acquiring the draft rights to future hall-of-famer Kobe Bryant the same year. The Warriors' attempts to stay competitive soon collapsed as they frequently rotated coaches. Following the 1993-94 season; the Warriors found themselves swept by the Charles Barkley-led Phoenix Suns. The Warriors would find themselves unable to post a winning season until 2006. The Lakers managed to re-emerge as playoff contenders during the latter half of the decade, but often fell to David Robinson and the San Antonio Spurs in the postseason. However, following the 1998-99 season, the Lakers fired head coach Del Harris and replaced him with Phil Jackson, who coached the Bulls throughout much of the 1990s and guided them to 6 championships in the decade.

2000s: The Lakers Dominance Continues[edit]

Led by Jackson, the Lakers quickly emerged into the new millennium as a playoff juggernaut. Armed with such players as Bryant, Shaq, Rick Fox, Derek Fisher, Ron Harper, and Robert Horry; they managed to win three straight championships from 2000 to 2002. The Warriors meanwhile had found themselves scraping the floor at the bottom of the league, however; they would re emerge into postseason contention around 2006 with the acquisitions of such players as Stephen Jackson, Matt Barnes, and Baron Davis. The Lakers would run into multiple issues, derailing their dynasty as the feud between Bryant and O'Neal had begun to briefly disassemble the team near the latter half of the decade. Despite this; the Lakers re armed themselves with new center Pau Gasol and forward Lamar Odom. The Lakers re emerged as title contenders, making three straight appearances in the finals from 2008 to 2010, winning two more championships in the process. The Warriors had begun to seek a deep rebuild of the franchise during the 2009 draft, in taking Davidson point guard Stephen Curry seventh overall.

2010s: The Warriors Take Over[edit]

The Lakers' LeBron James (right) and the Warriors' Stephen Curry (left) have been perennial All-Stars at the center of the recent growth of the rivalry.[20]

The Lakers remained a sturdy contender headed into the 2010s, but signs of decline were growing further evident as Kobe Bryant began fighting injury on a regular basis. The Warriors were still rebuilding as they would also draft future All-Star Klay Thompson out of Washington State during the 2011 NBA draft, the following season; they would also draft future All-Star power forward Draymond Green the following season. Rather quickly as the Lakers decline began, the Warriors emerged as a title contender, making regular appearances in the postseason, and managing to truly emerge as champions once again during the 2015 NBA Finals. The 2013 signing of small forward Andre Iguodala would also reinforce a potent offense, propelling the Warriors to five straight finals appearances, winning three. During the 2016 season, Bryant announced his retirement; publicly highlighting the Lakers decline as they would fail to make the postseason from 2014 to 2019. In a widely publicized move during the 2018 offseason; the Lakers signed legendary star LeBron James, and ended up trading for all-star Center Anthony Davis the following season.[21] Once again the Lakers emerged as a title contender, winning the COVID-19 shortened 2020 NBA Finals. The Warriors were all too familiar with James as they had faced off in four straight finals against him whilst he was still on the Cleveland Cavaliers, though the 2019–20 season saw the Warriors battle injury that ended up costing them a postseason appearance for another two seasons.[22][23]

2020s–present: Battling for the Western Conference championship[edit]

During the first two years of the decade, both teams struggled with various issues. The Lakers had also begun to fight several high profile injuries in addition to multiple poor free agent signings. The Warriors managed to regain their competitiveness to start the 2022–23 season, while the Lakers managed to scrape together a winning record, entering the postseason as the seventh seed.[24] Both teams met during the second round of the playoffs, with the Lakers winning the series in six games.[25][26][27][28]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The Saga Continues: Lakers-Warriors Rivalry in the 2023 NBA Western Conference Semifinals".
  2. ^ "Warriors-Lakers trash-talking already in full swing between fans ahead of Game 1".
  3. ^ "Warriors-Lakers rivalry still juicy, but not what it could've been".
  4. ^ "San Francisco vs. LA: A look at NorCal-SoCal rivalry as Warriors face Lakers in 2023 playoffs".
  5. ^ "Lakers-Warriors rivalry on display at Arena for Game 4 of Western Conference Semifinals".
  6. ^ "Lakers vs. Warriors odds and predictions: Who is the favorite to make it to the Conference Finals?".
  7. ^ "Lakers, Warriors Ready to Renew a Familiar Yet Fresh-Feeling Rivalry".
  8. ^ "The Warriors-Lakers rivalry is imaginary, Dynasty vs Dysfunction".
  10. ^ "5 takeaways from Lakers' close-out win over Warriors".
  11. ^ "The Iconic Rivalry: Golden State Warriors vs. Los Angeles Lakers – The Significance and Impact on the NBA".
  12. ^ "LeBron James vs. Steph Curry: Old rivalries reignite as LA Lakers face Golden State Warriors".
  13. ^ "Warriors vs. Lakers prediction: Our pick for LeBron James against Stephen Curry".
  14. ^ "NBA playoffs: LeBron James vs. Stephen Curry revive postseason rivalry in Lakers-Warriors matchup".
  15. ^ "Lakers-Warriors makes headlines: Lebron vs. Steph is no. 1".
  16. ^ "Warriors-Lakers will be a beautiful series and discourse bloodbath".
  17. ^ "Warriors vs. Lakers: Game 5 preview, TV channel, storylines, odds, how to watch NBA playoffs online".
  18. ^ "Summer League: How to watch, start time, lineup, location for Warriors vs. Lakers".
  19. ^ "Sleepy Floyd erupts for 51 points against Showtime Lakers".
  20. ^ "Lakers' Ham: LeBron-Steph is 'best rivalry of this generation'".
  21. ^ "Curry excited for rivalry with LeBron's Lakers".
  22. ^ "Lakers-Warriors renew a fresh Rivalry".
  23. ^ "LeBron James vs. Steph Curry: Savor this rivalry in Lakers-Warriors playoff series".
  24. ^ "Golden State Warriors on NBC Bay Area: Twitter: A rivalry renewed".
  25. ^ "New-look Lakers renew rivalry with Warriors".
  26. ^ "Draymond Green predicts winner of Memphis Grizzlies-LA Lakers playoff series — adding more fuel to feud".
  27. ^ "The epic LeBron James-Steph Curry rivalry delivered once again. Enjoy them while you can".
  28. ^ "Can the Lakers vs. Warriors playoff series reignite the tension in LeBron James' and Steph Curry's rivalry?".