Bill Bertka’s proudest Lakers moment led to 33-game winning streak
Bill Bertka, the Lakers’ director of scouting/basketball consultant, has been with the franchise for nearly half a century.
One of his earliest achievements was helping the Lakers put together the team that won the title in 1972, the club’s first in Los Angeles.
“Maybe my proudest moment would be, I recommended Jim McMillian to [former general manager] Fred Schaus,” said Bertka to Mike Trudell of Lakers.com.
The Lakers drafted McMillian in 1970 with the 13th overall pick.
“Jim McMillian was a 6-foot-5 small forward from Columbia University,” remembered Bertka. “Elgin Baylor retired in 1971, in the beginning of the ’71-'72 season.”
Baylor was a Hall of Famer for the Lakers who retired nine games into the season with knee issues.
“Jim McMillian took his spot,” said Bertka. “That team won 33 straight games, no discredit to Elgin but that team took off.”
McMillian averaged 18.8 points a game on 48.2% shooting through the Lakers’ championship season.
The Miami Heat threatened with 27 consecutive wins this last season before the Chicago Bulls handed them a loss.
“I’m very proud of the fact that I was somewhat responsible for drafting Jim McMillian,” said Bertka, who was one of the pioneers of scouting, both on the NBA and NCAA levels.
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