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MY PERSONAL CHOICES OF THE FIFTEEN GREATEST PLAYERS TO EVER PUT ON A LAKER UNIFORM AND PLAY AT EITHER STAPLES CENTER OR THE FORUM
A little while ago it occurred to me that unlike SoCal’s two iconic baseball franchises, the Dodgers and the Angels,
There was no article listing the all-time Los Angeles Lakers team on this site.
Which considering that this is a team with the most championships of any team in the greater Los Angeles area (11) that had an era of epic proportions – “Showtime” in the 1980s, which saw them win five NBA titles in an eight-year span – was admittedly a regrettable oversight.
Which I am about to correct right now, beginning with the starters;
Who I double dog dare anyone to dispute, the choices here are so extremely obvious…
Point Guard: EARVIN “MAGIC” JOHNSON
It’s absolutely impossible not to choose this architect of the “Showtime” era, not only for his numbers but also for the pronounced charisma that he showed off the court at Inglewood’s Forum as well as on, but also for everything he has done for the city, being part owner of not only his old team, but also the WNBA’s Sparks and the Dodgers.
Shooting Guard: KOBE BRYANT
Twenty glorious years wearing that purple and gold uniform.
Matching the “Showtime” Lakers in championships (five).
An 18-time NBA All-Star.
A 15-time member of the All-NBA team.
(VERY Important) A 12-time member of the NBA’s All-Defensive team.
The Lakers’ all-time leading scorer; only two men – Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Karl Malone – have scored more points in the history of basketball.
Power Forward: JAMES WORTHY
One of the many key Lakers during the Showtime 80s, though he didn’t get all of the glory that Magic and Kareem got, to put it bluntly those Lakers would have not won those five titles without him.
Small Forward: ELGIN BAYLOR
Along with Jerry West, this star put the Lakers on the map and made them relevant in L.A in the 1960s as the team had ten appearances in the NBA finals.
If were not for those hated Boston Celtics beating them every time, those Lakers would have won a lot more championships than the one they won against the New York Knicks in 1972.
Center: KAREEM ABDUL-JABBAR
Along with Magic, the undisputed leader of the “Showtime” Lakers.
Scored more points than anyone in basketball history.
Master of the “Skyhook”.
And my personal favorite of any Laker, partly due to the fact that he’s also the greatest basketball player in the history of my alma mater, UCLA, which induces much pride in me.
After Kareem and Magic, there were these two guys. Photo courtesy of aminoapps.com
All right, now that I’ve listed the starters, here’s the rest of an all-time Laker squad that folks would honestly be crazy to disagree with…
Guard: JERRY WEST
Besides teaming up with Baylor to entrench the Lakers in L.A.’s sports culture and serving as the team’s general manager during the “Showtime” glory days,
He’s also “The Logo”.
And also my choice for sixth man on this all-time team.
Guard: MICHAEL COOPER
With his high-knee socks and hard-nosed lock-down defense, this guard was a no-nonsense, don’t-take-no-guff player who along with Worthy, was so crucial for those 80s Lakers.
Guard: NORM NIXON
Was a key Laker during the late 70s and early 80s, which meant that he was essential in laying the ground work for the glory days.
Guard: DEREK FISHER
Kobe and Shaquille O’Neal got all the headlines during the Laker resurgence in the turn of this century, but there’s no way they would have won those three NBA crowns without this point guard.
Forward: JAMAAL WILKES
Better known as “Silk” like Nixon this former UCLA Bruin helped start the Showtime dominance with his incredibly smooth jump shot, hence the nickname.
Forward: A.C. GREEN
Another key man during the Showtime years, he was the NBA;s answer to Lou Gehrig, as he went around fifteen years without missing a game.
And no one in basketball – and possibly in all of professional sports – had better character or morals.
Two Lakers that I grew up with and was a BIG fan of, particularly the Laker on the right…
Forward: KURT RAMBIS
Much like Cooper, this bespectacled player provided MUCH grit off the bench for those championship Lakers of the 80s, doing the essential dirty work in order to get those rings.
Center: SHAQUILLE O’NEAL
A part of the two-headed face of the Lakers’ 2000-02 title run along with Kobe, at 7′ 1″ and well over 300 pounds no one dominated basketball more than this man during that time.
If it wasn’t for this Superman’s Kryptonite – his lack of ability to make free throws – he would have surpassed Kareem as the greatest center of all time in my book.
Center: WILT CHAMBERLAIN
It would be a complete sin to not include this man, who along with Baylor and West was the key factor in the Lakers’ 1972 title run.
No basketball player was better or more dominant in the era before 1970; the 100 points that he scored in a game in 1962 more than proves that.
So much so that except for the times he went up against Bill Russell and his Celtics, he made games pointless.
Center: GEORGE MIKAN
There was this man.
The best Lakers player from their Minneapolis days in the 1950s, he was one of the first NBA stars and definitely the first Laker star.
The bespectacled Mikan was so dominant during those early days of the league, he even led those early Lakers to five championships before they made like the Dodgers two years before, moving to L.A. in 1960.
As for all-time Laker coaches, I’m going to go with two, who like the players on this list are SO obvious on a no-brainer scale…
* PAT RILEY – who led the Lakers during the “Showtime” 80s, and…
* PHIL JACKSON – who after he led Michael Jordan and his Chicago Bulls to six titles in eight years during the 1990s, cemented his status as the NBA’s all-time greatest coach by coming to Los Angeles and nearly matching his Bulls titles with the Lakers, winning five.
I”m quite confident that these choices for the all-time Lakers will be to the satisfaction of arguably the most loyal fans in all of basketball – Laker Nation.
I really like this shot of the 1980s “Showtime” Lakers kicking it on a yacht. Photo courtesy of InsideSoCal.com