Sid Hartman, legendary sports writer who brought Lakers to Minneapolis, dies at 100
Sid Hartman covered basketball before the Lakers existed.
Hartman covered basketball after the Lakers won their 17th championship.
Heck, he’s partially responsible for the Lakers existing.
Hartman, a Minnesota institution best known for his sports writing who also had deep NBA ties, died at age 100.
In 1947, Hartman facilitated the sale of the failed Detroit Gems to Minneapolis businessmen Ben Berger and Morris Chaflen. Hartman even hand-delivered the check to Gems owner Maurice Winston in Detroit. The team moved to Minneapolis and became the Lakers.
Though Max Winter held the title of team president, Hartman claimed he served as de facto general manager.
The Lakers got the No. 1 pick in a dispersal draft, picked George Mikan and won championships in five of their first six years in the BAA/NBA.Hartman claimed he had a plan for keeping the Lakers on top – trading star Vern Mikkelsen and tanking for Bill Russell:
Hartman, via Jerry Crowe of the Los Angeles Times:
“If we’d have made that Russell deal,” Hartman says, “we’d have had the nucleus of another great team and Mr. [Red] Auerbach wouldn’t have had his good streak. It would have changed the whole history of the NBA if that deal had gone through.
“The Lakers never would have moved to L.A., I’ll tell you that.”
Patrick Reusse of the StarTribune
Eventually, Hartman returned his focus to sports writing.
He never quit the newspaper while with the Lakers, taking advantage of looser conflict-of-interest rules of that era – really, parameters that extended to him decades later. Hartman was one of a kind. He started in the industry as a 9-year-old delivering papers by bicycle then dropped out of high school to work for the local newspaper full-time.
As did Karl Anthony-Towns:
Hartman kept writing to the end, his final column publishing the day he died. In March, he showed unique perspective, comparing sports stoppages during coronavirus and World War II. A couple days later, he wrote about his 100th birthday: