That started a stretch of four losses in six games before the Lakers regrouped and won eight in a row en route to a 69-13 record and their first championship in Los Angeles. They'd had great individual talent for years, but knew that season they had something more.

"We had veteran guys on our team. Veteran players like that, you don't have to come in the locker room and say a word," West said. "It was, `Let's see who we're playing tonight. Don't change anything you're doing and go play.'"