The LA Lakers have just ended a dry spell of 10 years with their NBA finals win over Miami Heat. As was the case in the regular season, LeBron James was the man making waves but where does he rank amongst the best LA Lakers players of all time? Let’s find out.
Number 5. LeBron James
A few months ago, James probably wouldn’t have made it into this list. Now though, there will surely be few question marks. James has a host of accolades to his name from before his days in LA. His MVP winning performances in the recent finals means he has another for the Lakers now to join the fact he was the 2020 NBA assists leader. Winning used to be ingrained in the Lakers but that’s not the case anymore. James is a big game player though and with the bleak spell over there is nothing to stop another title shot in 2021.
Number 4. Wilt Chamberlain
If you’re talking about the absolute best there have ever been then Wilt Chamberlain has to be mentioned. In fact, had the game had as much coverage back in the sixties he’d probably be held in even higher regard than he is by the wider basketball fan base. By the time Chamberlain donned the Lakers jersey, he was approaching the twilight of his career. He was still a joy to watch though and the sheer amount of games he played serve as evidence that he wasn’t slowing up in his latter years. Gone were the days of 100 point matches but his NBA leading 19.2 rebounds per game was vital as the Lakers won the 1972 Championship.
Number 3. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
When Abdul-Jabbar traded Milwaukee for LA back in 1975 he already had one NBA Championship and three MVP awards to his name. By the time he called it a day some 15 years later he did so with a further five titles and another trio of MVP honours in the bag. All in all, the UCLA graduate made 19 All-Star appearances with 13 earned during his Lakers career. His all round game and consistency was mightily impressive throughout his entire time in the NBA. The fact he is the leagues all-time leading scorer is remarkable but it’s not until you combine it with his defensive contribution that you really appreciate just how special he was.
Number 2. Kobe Bryant
What better tribute to pay to the Black Mamba, who tragically passed away earlier this year, than to lift another title for the team where he spent the entirety of his playing career. Bryant was picked up in round one of the 1996 draft and it’s fair to say things worked out for both parties. In his 21 year spell in LA Bryant made the All-Star game on 18 occasions winning the associated MVP award four times. On top of that, he was named Finals MVP twice and league MVP in 2008. Five NBA Championship titles and the record points haul in Lakers’ history means he’s 100% deserving of every accolade that came his way. He might be gone but his place in Lakers history is there forever.
Number 1. Magic Johnson
If you rank higher than Bryant in a list of the best Lakers players of all time then you know you’re pretty damn special. Johnson was exactly that. The 1979 number one pick was the driving force of the team that dominated the eighties. The decade saw the Lakers win five NBA Championships with Johnson’s name regularly top of the stats. Twice he led the league in steals, four times in assists and three MVP awards alongside a further three Finals MVP wins represents just how instrumental he was. Without Johnson the LA Lakers of that era would have been good, with him they were magic. A deseriving first place on our list of the best Lakers players of all time.
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