The Los Angeles Lakers are one of the most magical and popular franchises in all major sports, with their winning culture in such a flashy city and after winning 16 Larry O’Brien trophies in their museums as one of the most dominant teams in history.
Being a part of the Lakers is the ultimate dream of most ballers all over the world, desiring to emulate the great achievements some of the best players to ever lace them up did during their time in purple and gold.
So, it’s not easy to have your jersey retired at the Staples Center, considering how many basketball glories have walked through their aisles. Today, we’re going to honor the top 10 best players in franchise history, so if you’re a young basketball fan, enjoy this reading and go to YouTube to learn a bit about this beautiful sport.
Honorable Mention: Pau Gasol, Byron Scott, Michael Cooper
10. Gail Goodrich
Gail Goodrich doesn’t get enough love and recognition by young Los Angeles Lakers fan, but truth to be told, he’d be as good today as he were back in the day, as he was the ultimate up tempo/run and gun kind of combo guard that would kill today’s game.
Winner of a Championship with the Lakers, “Stumpy” Goodrich is eighth in the all-time scoring list in franchise history, as well as ranking eighth in dimes and ninth in made free throws, even though it seems that most people have forgotten about him.
9. George Mikan
Only older fans will remember George Mikan, as he was a part of the Minneapolis Lakers era during the game’s early stages, posting career averages of 23.1 points and almost 14 rebounds per contest.
Mikan only trails Chamberlain and Baylor in the all-time rebounding list in the franchise, won 5 rings with the Lakers and also has to be credited for the Hook Shot, as even though Kareem made it popular, Mikan was the first guy to use it as a reliable scoring option.
8. James Worthy
James Worthy is one of the most beloved players in Lakers history due to his great performances during clutch time and in key games, earning the Big Game James nickname due to his scoring outbursts and a great feel for the game when it mattered the most.
Worthy ranks third in total steals and sixth total points in Lakers history, winning 3 rings for Los Angeles en route to career averages of 17.5 points, 3 dimes and just over 5 rebounds per contest.
7. Elgin Baylor
Elgin Baylor should’ve gotten an honorific ring, as he spent his entire career with the Los Angeles Lakers but was never able to take the award home due to Bill Russell and his dominant Boston Celtics, the league’s owners back in the day, leading the Lakers to 8 NBA Finals but losing all of them.
Still, his lifetime averages of 27.4 points (highest in franchise history) and 13.5 rebounds grant him a spot in Laker heaven. On a side note, Los Angeles finally won the Championship the very next year of his retirement. What a tough luck man.
6. Jerry West
The Lakers are such a huge part of basketball history, that they even have a player as the very logo of the National Basketball Association: Jerry West, a deadly combo guard that could play lockdown defense and torch the fastest defenders as well.
West is second all-time in scored points in Lakers history and has proven to be a great basketball mind. Besides, he spent 14 years at the Staples, winning 1 ring and posting career averages of 27 points, 5.8 boards and 6.7 dimes per matchup, scoring over 25 thousand career points.
5. Wilt Chamberlain
Wilt Chamberlain was considered to be the greatest player of all times back in the day due to his dominance performances in both ends of the court, with the league even having to change some rules and court measures to make the game more fair because of him.
Still, he was only able to win a single ring with the Lakers, but The Stilt is still a huge part of basketball history. Nonetheless, his best years didn’t come on a Lakers uniform, with him winning 4 MVPs elsewhere (as well as his famous 100 point performance).
4. Shaquille O’Neal
Through his Los Angeles Lakers tenure, there wasn’t a more dominant player in the world than Shaquille O’Neal, such a huge beast that you just couldn’t get a pass to without paying the price, and a guy that could completely torch the strongest players in the world as if they were mere children.
Shaq’s Laker tenure didn’t end as good as everybody expected due to his off-court issues with Kobe Bryant, but he was still able to bring 3 rings to the franchise, and he also owns the second-highest averages in points, boards and blocks with 27, 11.8 and 2.5 per contest.
3. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is the league’s all-time leading scorer and one of the most dominant two-way players in the history of basketball, snubbed by the Lakers out of the Milwaukee Bucks to make history dressed in purple and gold.
Alongside Magic Johnson, Kareem brought 5 titles to Los Angeles and shut down the Celtics never-ending dominance, spending 14 years at LA on their way to becoming their all-time leader in both defensive and offensive boards, as well as blocks.
2. Magic Johnson
Magic Johnson is considered to be the best point guard in the history of the game, and he’s got to go down as a top 10-15 player with his ability to play and guard all 5 spots with great ease regardless of the opponent.
Magic was the main responsible for the Laker resurge and Showtime era, winning 5 titles, 3 MVPs, 3 Finals MVP and owning the highest assists per game average (11.2) in the history of the game, and he’d be a perennial MVP front-runner even in modern basketball era.
1. Kobe Bryant
As we mentioned earlier, having one jersey retired is difficult, so imagine how incredible you’ve got to be to have 2 different jerseys retired. Well, that’s the Black Mamba’s case, the best player in Los Angeles Lakers franchise by a long shot, winner of 5 Championships, 2 Finals MVPs and 1 MVP.
Spending his entire career dressed in purple and gold, even other Laker glories like West, Jabbar and Johnson have recognized that there hasn’t been a greater Laker than Kobe, the franchise’ all-time leading scorer and also the record holder for most games played ever as a Laker.