Today in sports history, the longest winning streak in major professional sports history hit 33 games. With a 134-90 win over the Atlanta Hawks on January 6th, 1972, the Los Angeles Lakers won their 33rd consecutive game. While they lost their next game to the Milwaukee Bucks, their streak still stands today across all major professional sports as the longest of all time.
Longest Winning Streak in NBA History
The Los Angeles Lakers came into the 1971-72 season as heavy favorites to win the NBA Finals. When your team consists of the likes of Wilt Chamberlain, Elgin Baylor, Jerry West and Gail Goodrich, among others, it’s no wonder this team was viewed as a powerhouse. The Lakers got out of the gates a little sluggish, however. After starting 4-0, the Lakers went just 2-3 over their next five games.
The Lakers had four off days after a 109-105 loss to the Golden State Warriors dropped them to 6-3. During that time, they certainly figured a thing or two out. Their next game against the Baltimore Bullets started the longest winning streak in NBA history.
Their winning streak started on November 5th, 1971. During their 33-game winning streak, only 10 of the games were decided by single-digits. The Lakers won 17 games at home and 16 games on the road.
1971-72 Lakers Legacy
The streak came to an end in Milwaukee, when the defending champion Milwaukee Bucks beat the Lakers, 120-104, behind a 39-point, 20-rebound performance from Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. The Lakers would go on to lose four of their next six, but they still finished the season with an NBA-best 69-13 record.
In the playoffs, the Lakers swept the Chicago Bulls before matching up against the Bucks in the Western Conference Finals. Although they lost the first game of the series, they won four of the next five to advance to the NBA Finals. In the Finals against the New York Knicks, they again dropped the first game before winning four straight to claim another NBA championship.
No NBA team has come close to even tying the Lakers’ record. The closest was the Golden State Warriors. After winning four straight to end the 2014-15 season, they won 24 to start the 2015-16 season. In an ironic twist of fate, the Warriors also lost their streak on the road to the Milwaukee Bucks as well. With the era of “superteams” appearing to be in the past for the NBA, it looks as if the Lakers’ record is safe for the foreseeable future.