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Jerry West thinks 1971-72 Lakers could compete with Miami Heat

The 1971-72 Lakers won a record 33 straight games en route to a championship. The Miami Heat won 27 straight and are currently one win away from a return trip to the NBA Finals.

Would the 1971-72 Lakers be able to compete with the 2012-13 Heat?

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“Obviously I want to say that we would win. I don’t know if that would be a fact or not,” iconic Lakers guard Jerry West told Bob Costas during a sit-down video interview. “It would be very interesting because they’re not a very good rebounding team and we were one of the best rebounding teams I’ve ever seen.”

“They have two magnificent players. We had a bunch of guys that were pretty good,” continued the Hall of Famer. “Selfishly, I’d like to think we could play with those guys.”

West was referring to LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, while downplaying his own roster, which featured Wilt Chamberlain, Gail Goodrich, Jim McMillian and Happy Hairston. Elgin Baylor played nine games as well before retiring.

How would he guard James?

“I’d try to run him left, if you can keep him from getting to the basket, which is a task itself. He will get better because he works at it,” West said. “To try to guard someone like him would be an enormous task. Kobe Bryant would fall in the same category.”

West, currently an executive with the Golden State Warriors, said Michael Jordan would be a tougher cover than James.

Another West teammate was Pat Riley, currently president of the Heat.

“I’m happy for him,” West said of Riley. “The one thing I found out very early about him was his fierce nature. When he got his opportunity to coach here in Los Angeles, you could see he had something special about him.”

“I think he’s proven his worth not only as a coach but as an executive,” he continued. “What he’s done down in Miami ... success follows success.”

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Email Eric Pincus at eric.pincus@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter @EricPincus.


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