When it comes to sports excellence, there are few teams in the NBA that have seen more All Star talent than the Los Angeles Lakers. The Lakers are unlike any other sports franchise, as they have maintained a certain level of excellence and a lineage that seems to pass on from one player to the next. All of these players were incredible in their own way, some because of their impressive work ethic, while others for their approach to the details. This list is highly debatable since it doesn’t have Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Jerry West or LeBron James on it.
Chamberlain was the single greatest force ever to play basketball. With his incredible 100-point game and 702 total assists, the Philadelphia native shined bright during his 5-year journey with the Lakers. By this time, Chamberlain wanted to win championships, even though his first year with the Lakers would say otherwise.
Still, even though the team landed three more wins than the previous year, it showed how much their defense improved. Then, in 1971, the Lakers won their first championship, set the record for consecutive wins (33), and Chamberlain earned multiple awards himself. He was so incredible in this sport that he became a popular sports betting player (you can bet on sports today at many online casino websites like Casumo).
Chamberlain gave the Lakers something other hall of fame counterparts didn’t – the legacy of the team. Since 1971, the L.A. Lakers have won multiple championships, and it all started with the excellence of Chamberlain’s astounding skills.
Elgin Baylor is one of the most overlooked L.A. players, but he is one of the best overall in the sport – even today. With over 12 years with the then Minneapolis Lakers, he managed to become the all-time leader in points per game with 27.4, first in total rebounds, second in field goal attempts, third in free throws made and forth in total minutes played.
Thanks to Baylor and his average of 34.8 points per game, he single-handedly pulled the Lakers out of their slump and went from second to last in fan attendance to fourth. Although he would play eight NBA finals, he would lose all eight and be forced into retirement nine games into the season in which they finally took the title home.
His place in NBA history shouldn’t be overlooked, because not only did he break industry records, he also changed the sport for the better. He was also a role model for many black youths at the time for dominating a sport primarily occupied at the time by whites despite the racial tensions in the country.
Was O’Neal a great basketball player? Yes. Is this a polarizing statement? Unfortunately, yes, even though he led his team to victory 60 percent of the time, he had a 27-point per game average and was in four NBA Finals (where the Lakers won three). He was M.V.P. for each of those finals, which included the one season with the 65 total wins.
In the 2000 playoffs, he logged 1,000 playoff minutes, which was only accomplished six times. O’Neal was also impressive when it came to rebounds. Besides Chamberlain, no Laker comes close to O’Neal’s numbers (like the 707 total points in the 2000 playoffs), which helped the team get their first playoff win since 1988.
Although his problems with Kobe Bryant led to his eventual departure, his accomplishments and achievements shouldn’t be ignored or forgotten because of a few missed free throws.
You can’t have a Lakers’ list without mentioning Bryant. His surprise passing in early 2020 meant the world lost a loving father, husband, and an impressive athlete. This boy had talent, and like most child prodigies, he danced through the competition to break multiple Lakers’ and NBA records, including the leader in games played, points per game, and points scored in a season.
Numbers aside, the irrefutable mark he left on the game of basketball makes him one of the greatest. He, like many others on this list, changed the course of history for all NBA teams, and many found it difficult to compete with his sheer might and talent.
It was his consistency that separated him from the greats in the sports. Only four players — Isiah Thomas, Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, and Kobe Bryant — have ever won championships without a dominant center. His grind to become one of the greatest basketball players will never be duplicated.
With a name like “Magic” Johnson, you know you’re in for a treat. Ervin made the mundane look majestic, made other great players hall of famers, and smashed records multiple times over. He played in nine NBA Finals and won five, but Johnson’s position on the Lakers was a bit of a fluke. It was all thanks to Gail Goodrich signing in New Orleans and a coin flip.
The 1980s were good for the Lakers as they won multiple games, including the 1980 season that saw Johnson winning 60 games. The 1980s championship was the first of Magic’s career and the first of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
Magic Johnson was named Finals M.V.P. three times in eight years. He came out of retirement for one year in 1995 but retired again in 1996. Still, that 1979 – 1991 time span for the Lakers saw some of the most amazing plays in basketball history.