Los Angeles Lakers

If Not Kobe, Then Who Is The Greatest Laker Of All Time?

In the 68-year history of the Minneapolis/Los Angeles Lakers (the nickname makes more sense now, doesn’t it?) there have been a laundry list of excellent players. These great names have been instrumental in the franchise’s success.

With Kobe Bryant announcing that he will retire at the end of this season, now seems like as good a time as ever to list the top 5 players in franchise history.

Now this is only this writer’s personal list and there are arguments that can be made for a number of individuals.

A few things to note before the listing begins.

This will only encompass the respective players on-court careers. So as important as some people have been behind the scenes and in the front office, those achievements will not be considered.

As this is a list of all-time Lakers, the years and statistics listed will only be for those years that the players were part of the franchise.

  1. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, C, (1975-1989) 22.1 Pts, 9.4 Reb, 2.5 Blks
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Photo Credit: Tony Hisgett/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

How can you go wrong with the NBA’s leading scorer? While he was originally drafted 1st overall in the 1969 Draft by the Milwaukee Bucks, Kareem spent 14 of his 20 season in Los Angeles. A major part of the 1980s “Showtime” teams, he was league MVP three times and an NBA Champion five times while playing in southern California.

2. Earvin “Magic” Johnson, PG, (1979-1991, 1996) 19.5 Pts, 7.2 Reb, 11.2 Ast

Photo Credit: tenaciousme/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Photo Credit: tenaciousme/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Another 1st overall pick, this time in 1979, “Magic” was a 6’9″ point guard and the distributor for the aforementioned “Showtime” teams. By the time his career ended, he was a five-time NBA Champion and a three-time MVP. One of the best play-makers of his size, Magic paved the ways for modern players like LeBron James and James Harden to be their teams’ primary ball-handlers.

3. Kobe Bryant, SG, (1996-2016) 25.2 Pts, 5.3 Reb, 4.8 Ast (as of this writing)

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Photo Credit: Keith Allison/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

The “Black Mamba”, he is and has been the face of the Lakers for the majority of his 20-year career. Though he was only MVP on one occasion, he was a part of five championship teams. Bryant also holds the Lakers record for points with 32,785 as of this writing.

4. Jerry West, PG, (1960-1974) 27 Pts, 5.8 Reb, 6.7 Ast

Photo Credit: Prayitno /Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Photo Credit: Prayitno /Flickr (CC By 2.0)

The 2nd overall pick in 1960 (right behind fellow Hall-of-Famer Oscar Robertson), West does not have the accolades of others on this list. He was never league MVP and he only won one championship, though he was an All-Star selection every year he played. However, his pure play-making ability earned him nicknames such as “Mr. Clutch” and “Mr. Outside”. Nowadays, he is also known as the inspiration for the silhouette that makes up the NBA logo today.

5. George Mikan, C, (1947-1954, 1956) 23.1 Pts, 13.4 Reb (only BBA/NBA stats available)

Photo Credit: jpellgen/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Photo Credit: jpellgen/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Mikan was the first superstar of professional basketball. He arrived with the Lakers in his second professional season when they were part of the National Basketball League. The franchise jumped the next year to the Basketball Association of America, which the following year became the NBA. He led the Lakers to five BBA/NBA championships, while leading the league in scoring three times and rebounds twice.

Cover Photo Credit: jpellgen/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Kobe Is Not Great Anymore And That’s Been Brutal For Lakers Fans To Figure Out

By Ikeem Boyd

As a lifelong Los Angeles Lakers fan, Kobe Bryant’s decision to retire from the game of basketball is bittersweet.

He’s my favorite player of all time and played a huge role in raising five championship banners.

Kobe is the Lakers; the Lakers are Kobe’s team. That’s just the way that it’s always been for the entirety of my fandom and most of my life.

I’ve grown up with Kobe, and I can’t fathom an NBA season without him. Like every other Laker fan, and basketball fan for that matter, I’ll be sad that he’s gone. But at the same time, Bryant has left us all with great memories and he deserves to be celebrated for the remainder of the 2015-16 season.

The current version of Kobe Bryant is hard to watch. Seeing Bryant shoot 30 percent from the field on a nightly basis is tough.

His decision to retire is the right one. It’s not only best for Bryant as an individual, but it’s also best for the Lakers as franchise.

The Lakers can now focus on re-building the team around their young core of D’Angelo Russell, Jordan Clarkson and Julius Randle.

Lakers fans leave the Staples Center in Los Angeles. Photo Credit:johrling/Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Lakers fans leave the Staples Center in Los Angeles. Photo Credit:johrling/Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Greatest Ever? 

There’s always been this great debate about who’s the greatest basketball player of all-time. Let me preface what I’m about to say, by stating that I was born in 1992.

When Michael Jordan was dominating the NBA and winning championships with the Chicago Bulls, I was a young kid. I didn’t follow or fully understand the game of basketball then.

Even though I didn’t witness the Jordan era, I’m aware of his greatness, what he accomplished and what he did on a global scale for the NBA and game of basketball.

With all that being said, Kobe Bryant is the closest thing to Michael Jordan; he’s the best basketball player of my generation and the best basketball player that I have ever witnessed live.

I don’t really enjoy ranking the all-time greats because each is great in their own way and they each brought something unique to the table.

Besides, I haven’t been around long enough to have seen all of them live. It’s tough to make rankings off of highlight packages, vintage games on ESPN Classic and on statistics. I do know the greats of my generation, though, and who I got to see growing up.

The great players of my generation include: Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, Shaquille O’Neal, Allen Iverson, Tracy McGrady, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and a few others that are escaping me at the moment. Out of that bunch, there’s only one player that you can argue has had a better career than Bryant and that is Duncan. Bryant’s resume speaks for itself.

Where does that rank Bryant amongst the all-time greats? I can’t tell you. Everyone that you talk to will give you a different list. What I can tell you is that regardless of where you believe Bryant ranks on the list of all-time greats, he’ll always be in the discussion.

Although this season is looking like it’s going be another lost one for the Lakers, I’m excited to see how Kobe goes out. It’ll also be cool to see how the NBA, its players, coaches, and fans show their appreciation for Bryant and all that he’s done.

I’m hoping that during my next visit to Los Angeles, I’ll be able to catch a Lakers game. I have to witness greatness in person…one last time.

Thank you for a wonderful 20-year journey, Kobe. Basketball won’t be the same without you.

Cover Photo Credit: Keith Allison/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

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