Best ever?

Are the 1971-72 Lakers the best Lakers team in history? (Los Angeles Lakers)

The Times has asked an online sports simulation site to run a tournament involving the 12 greatest Lakers title teams of all time, as selected by The Times.

The simulations were done by Imagine Sports, a Silicon Valley-based Internet company developing multiplayer online sports simulation games, including Total Hoops, an online basketball game where users are the general managers of their own pro basketball franchises and can draft or sign players from throughout the history of basketball, and Diamond Mind Online, an online baseball management game licensed and promoted by MLB Advanced Media.

The top four seeded teams receive first-round byes.

And now, the first round results. Each series is best-of-seven, with the better seeded team receiving home court advantage:

Fifth-seeded 2000-01 Lakers vs. 12th-seeded 1953-54 Minneapolis Lakers

The matchup: Minneapolis fans complained before the tournament began that none of the championship teams from their area received a first-round bye. In fact, the three Minneapolis teams in the tournament received the three worst seedings. But, will playing with a 24-second clock help or hurt the Minneapolis teams? Can Shaquille O'Neal play at 100% against George Mikan, a center he has great respect for?

The results

Game 1: at 2000-01 Lakers 100, 1953-54 Lakers 96. High scorer: Kobe Bryant, 30

Game 2: at 2000-01 Lakers 93, 1953-54 Lakers 92. High scorer: Bryant, 29

Game 3: 2000-01 Lakers 101, at 1953-54 Lakers 77. High scorer: Bryant, 25

Game 4: 2000-01 Lakers 111, at 1953-54 Lakers 100. High scorer: Bryant, 39

2000-01 Lakers win series, 4-0.

The recap: The Kobe-Shaq Lakers were just too strong for Mikan and crew. O'Neal averaged 20 points and 11 rebounds a game. Kobe Bryant averaged almost 31 points a game. Mikan and Jim Pollard led Minneapolis with 18 points per game each.

Series MVP: Kobe Bryant (30.8 points, five rebounds, four assists per game)

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Sixth-seeded 1979-80 Lakers vs. 11th seeded 1952-53 Minneapolis Lakers

The matchup: Another chance for a George Mikan team to advance to the second round. They get the start of the Showtime Lakers, with a rookie Magic Johnson bringing his enthusiasm to a

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar team.

The results