Did the Lakers Just Hand Trump the Election? This NBA Stat is Good News For the President

The Los Angeles Lakers ended a 10-year wait for a NBA title on Sunday, defeating the Miami Heat 4-2 in the NBA Finals to win a first title since 2010 and drawing level with the Boston Celtics' all-time record of 17 world titles.

Significant as the sporting milestones were, if history is anything to go by the Lakers triumph could serve as a very accurate bellwether of the November 3 presidential election. Of the 17 titles the Lakers have won, five of them arrived in presidential election years, with a Republican candidate being elected on each occasion.

Will President Donald Trump continue the trend next month? Here's a look through the annals.


Still based in Minneapolis, the Lakers clinched a third title in four years and the first of three straight with a 4-3 win over the New York Knicks in a series that was played over just 14 days. The Lakers, featuring future Hall of Famers George Mikan, Vern Mikkelsen, Jim Pollard and Slater Martin, took the series opener at home in overtime, before the Knicks squared the series. The Lakers took Game 3 as the series moved to New York, before the Knicks leveled the series a second time with an overtime win at home in Game 4. Both teams won at home in the following two games, before the Lakers clinched the decider as the series returned to Minneapolis for Game 7.

Less than six months after the Lakers were crowned world champions, Dwight D. Eisenhower was elected president after winning 55.2 percent of the popular vote. The landslide victory over Democrat Adlai Stevenson was the first time a Republican candidate had won the elections since Herbert Hoover was elected in 1928.


By the time the Lakers won another NBA title on an election year, two decades had elapsed and the franchise had relocated to Los Angeles. The Knicks stood between the Lakers and a first NBA title for the second time in three seasons after defeating the Lakers in seven games in the 1970 Finals. The Lakers arrived into the Finals on the back of a dominant season in which they set NBA records by winning 69 regular season games, which included 33 wins in a row—the former record stood until the Chicago Bulls won 70 games in the 1995-96 season, while the latter still stands—but dropped Game 1 at home. Led by NBA Finals MVP Wilt Chamberlain and Jerry West, the Lakers won the next four game straight, clinching a first NBA title in 18 years and the franchise's first since its move from Minneapolis to Los Angeles.

In November, Richard Nixon won a second term after defeated Democratic candidate George McGovern in a landslide victory. Nixon carried 49 states and took 60.7 percent of the popular vote and secured the largest margin of victory in the Electoral College for a Republican, a record which lasted until 1984.


The Lakers returned to the top of the NBA world after eight years, defeating the Philadelphia 76ers in six games as the Showtime Era began in earnest in Hollywood. Led by Magic Johnson, who became the first and hitherto only rookie to be named NBA Finals MVP, and regular season MVP Kareem Abdul-Jabbar the Lakers won the series opener at home and then clinched Game 3 in Philadelphia, with the Sixers winning Game 2 and Game 4 both by a margin of three points. The Lakers won Game 5 as the series returned to Los Angeles, with Abdul-Jabbar famously scoring 14 points in the fourth quarter despite playing on an injured ankle, before Magic put up 42 points and 15 rebounds as the Lakers made light work of Abul-Jabbar's absence in Game 6 to take the title in Philadelphia.

In the presidential elections, Republican nominee Ronald Reagan won a second term after defeating Democrat incumbent Jimmy Carter in a landslide victory. Reagan carried 44 states and won 50.7 percent of the popular vote, as Carter became the second consecutive incumbent to be defeated in a presidential election.


The Lakers became the first team in 19 years to successfully defend the title as they defeated the Detroit Pistons in seven game to win their fifth title over nine seasons and the last of their glittering 1980s. In a series that featured nine future Hall of Famers the two teams equally shared the opening four games, with Detroit taking the series opener in Los Angeles and Game 4 at home, while the Lakers clinched Game 2 and then took a 2-1 lead after winning Game 3 on the road.

The Pistons led 3-2 as the series returned to California and came within two Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's free throws of winning Game 6 and the title as Isiah Thomas finished with 43 points despite playing on a badly sprained ankle. Led by NBA Finals MVP James Worthy—who finished with a monster triple-double of 36 points, 16 rebounds and 10 assists—the Lakers won the decider by three points and finally won a Game 7 at the sixth time of asking after moving to Los Angeles.

Less than five months later, incumbent Republican Vice President George H. W. Bush won both the Electoral College and the popular vote to defeat Democratic candidate Michael Dukakis. Bush carried 40 states, secured 426 electoral votes and won 53.4 percent of the popular vote.


The most recent Lakers title until Sunday night marked the start of another extraordinary era of success in Los Angeles. Led by Phil Jackson—who had coached the Chicago Bulls to two consecutive three-peats in the previous decade—the Lakers defeated the Indiana Pacers 4-2, clinching the first of three consecutive titles as Shaquille O'Neal won the first of three consecutive NBA Finals MVP crowns.

Shaq led the Lakers in points and rebounds in all six games, finishing the Finals with a frankly ludicrous average of 38 points and 16.7 rebounds, while Kobe Bryant announced his arrivals in the NBA Finals by hitting three clutch shots as the Lakers secured an ultimately crucial 120-118 win in Indianapolis in Game 4 to take a 3-1 lead in the series.

Los Angeles Lakers, NBA Finals
The Los Angeles Lakers pose for a team photo with the trophy after winning the NBA Championship over the Miami Heat in Game 6 of the 2020 NBA Finals at AdventHealth Arena at the ESPN Wide World Of Sports Complex on October 11 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty

About the writer

Dan Cancian is currently a reporter for Newsweek based in London, England. Prior to joining Newsweek in January 2018, he was a news and business reporter at International Business Times UK. Dan has also written for The Guardian and The Observer. 

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