The Los Angeles Lakers are one of the most storied franchises in all of professional sports. They’ve rivaled Boston as the premiere organization in the NBA for years and have some of the greatest basketball players that ever played. Head coaches Pat Riley and Phil Jackson combined to win nine championships and longtime broadcaster Chick Hearn went on an unprecedented streak of 3,338 consecutive games without missing a broadcast. Everything about this team is legendary, and here are the most legendary players to ever drape the purple and gold.
10. George Mikan
George Mikan is one of the original Lakers, who played his entire career in Minneapolis before the team was relocated to the west coast. He won five titles as a Laker and averaged 23 points and 13 rebounds throughout his career. In addition, he was one of the first players to ever be inducted into the Naismith Hall of Fame.
9. Michael Cooper
As a member of the Showtime Lakers in the 1980’s, Michael Cooper won five championships. He is arguably the best defender in franchise history, making the All-Defense First Team five times. He also won Defensive Player of the Year in 1987.
8. James Worthy
“Big Game James” averaged nearly 18 points, five rebounds, and three assists on his way to helping the Lakers win three championships. He was the first pick in the 1982 NBA Draft and ranks third in franchise history in steals and sixth in points.
7. Elgin Baylor
Baylor spent his entire career with the Lakers, and it was a good one. He ranks fourth in franchise history in points and first in rebounds. Although he never won a championship because of Bill Russell, he did average 27.4 points and 13.5 boards per game in his 14 seasons in L.A.
6. Jerry West
Let’s be honest, Jerry West would be at the top of most franchises list for best players, but with the Lakers, he doesn’t even crack the top 5. Either way, he is the logo, which makes him legendary. He ranks second in career points for the Lakers and remains the only player to win NBA Finals MVP despite being on the losing team. He did win a championship in 1972.
5. Wilt Chamberlain
“Wilt the Stilt” was a nightmare for opponents, averaging 30.1 points per game over the course of his career. He remains the only player to score 100 points in a single game, although it was not with the Lakers. He also won four MVP awards, but none of those were with L.A. either. Nevertheless, he does lead the franchise in rebounds per game (19.2) and field goal percentage (60.5).
4. Shaquille O’Neal
Shaq was arguably the most dominant big man to ever play the game. He led the Lakers to three straight NBA titles in the early 2000’s and won MVP in each of those seasons. O’Neal ranks second in Lakers history in points, rebounds, and blocks per game.
3. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
For a long time, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was the best basketball player in the world. He helped lead the Lakers to five championships during his 14 seasons in L.A. Currently, he ranks first in offensive rebounds, defensive rebounds, and blocks in franchise history. He also ranks second in games and minutes played and third in points. Abdul-Jabbar was truly a revolutionary player.
2. Magic Johnson
Magic could’ve easily took the top spot on this list. In fact, he is probably more of a 1B than a number 2, but for the purposes of this list, we have him listed as the second greatest Laker ever. During his 13-year career, he racked up 3 MVP awards, 3 Finals MVP awards, and five championships. He averaged 11.2 assists per game in his career, which is the best mark in NBA history.
1. Kobe Bryant
The “Black Mamba” won five titles, one MVP, two Finals MVPs, and made 15 All-Star games during his time in Los Angeles. He holds the franchise record in points, field goals, three-point field goals, games, minutes played, steals, and free throws. Even Jerry West, Shaquille O’Neal, and Magic Johnson all admitted that Kobe Bryant is the greatest Laker of all-time.