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Lakers’ Forgotten Studs: Happy Hairston, Bringing the First Title to Tinseltown – Fan’s Reflection

Happy Hairston was a Key Member of the Lakers First Title in Los Angeles in 1972. The Double-double Machine Should Never Be Forgotten

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As a Los Angeles Lakers fan I am all for honoring legends like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Jamaal Wilkes, and Shaquille O'Neal.

But there have been a number of standout Lakers over the years who will never have their numbers retired or have statues erected in their honor - call them the Lakers' Forgotten Studs.

Today's installment: Happy Hairston

Bringing the First Title to Los Angeles

Happy Hairston was traded to the Lakers in 1969 during his sixth NBA season. He remained in Los Angeles until his retirement in 1975.

In his six-plus years in Los Angeles Hairston established himself as a double-double machine and key player in the Lakers 1972 NBA title team, the franchise's first championship since relocating to Los Angeles.

The 6'7" forward put up amazing stats during his six years in Los Angeles that have somehow been largely forgotten:

Happy Hairston, 1970-1975: 15.0 PTS, 12.2 REB, 2.3 AST, 0.8 STL, 48% FG

Only eight other players in the NBA matched Hairston's 15.0 points and 12.2 rebounds from 1970-1975, and seven of them are in the Hall of Fame. This list includes players like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Wilt Chamberlain, Elvin Hayes, and Bob Lanier.

Happy averaged a double-double every year he played for the Lakers.

The Forgotten Man

Despite his consistently solid play, Hairston has become the forgotten member of the 1972 title team.

Not only did the 1972 Lakers win the title, they also reeled off a professional sports record 33 consecutive victories.

Hall of Famers like Jerry West, Wilt Chamberlain, Elgin Baylor, and Gail Goodrich get most of the credit for the Lakers' success in 1972. But Happy Hairston deserves to be numbered right along with them.

In 1972 Hairston was a solid offensive contributor averaging 13.1 points and 2.4 assists.

He was also the team's second leading rebounder at 13.1 per game.

Hairston essentially replicated these numbers throughout the 1972 playoffs (13.5 PPG, 13.1 RPG, 2.1 APG) In helping the Lakers to the title.

An Untimely Death

Lakers fans mourned when Happy Hairston passed away in 2001 at the premature age of 58 after a battle with prostate cancer.

The legacy he left behind as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers was a memorable one.

He was the quintessential role player who gave whatever his team needed in order to win, and his valiant efforts helped bring the title to Tinseltown for the first time.

Happy Hairston left a legacy with the Lakers that should never be forgotten.

Andrew Sweat is a die-hard Lakers fan. For more from this author, visit Andrew's archive or check these out articles:

The Lakers' Forgotten Studs Archive:

Norm Nixon, Assisting a Dynasty

Eddie Jones, the Silky Assassin

Rick Fox, Ultimate Role Player

Nick Van Exel and His Killer Swagger

Cedric Ceballos, Scoring Machine

Sedale Threatt Owned the NBA From 1992-1994

Elden Campbell and the Lefty Dunk

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