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Top Ten Los Angeles Lakers of All-Time

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We’ve hit the dog days of the NBA summer.  All the big name free agents have been snatched up.  Summer league is over.  Training camps are still weeks away.  So, now is the perfect time to reminisce a bit.  The Hoops Manifesto has gathered together a stellar collection of Bloguin basketball writers to determine the top ten players all-time for each of the 30 NBA franchises.  Next up: the BIG ONE; the team that inspired this whole series of columns; the Los Angeles (nee Minnesota) Lakers.

Voting panel: Jeff Fox from The Hoops Manifesto, College Wolf from the TWolves Blog, Don from With Malice, Philip from Orlando Magic Daily, Sean from Hoop Heads North and Diego from Leaving It All On The Court.

10) Gail Goodrich – Los Angeles Lakers – 1965 – 1968, 1970 – 1976

Lakers accomplishments:

- basketball Hall of Fame
- jersey number (25) retired by team
- member of one Lakers NBA championship team
- NBA leader in games played in 1973/74
- NBA leader in free throws (made & attempted) in 1973/74
- four-time NBA All-Star
- one-time All-NBA selection

“A key player on the Lakers’ 33-win streak team of 1971-72, Goodrich is one of the most underappreciated superstars to ever play this game. He and Jerry West formed a lethal backcourt that could outscore any opposing duo.” – Diego Quezada

“Good lord this franchise has been loaded with talent over the years.  It’s almost not even fair…” – College Wolf

“‘Stumpy’ was simply one of the best offensive players that the Lakers have ever had.  And for this franchise, that’s saying something.  If he had played on another team, I suspect that we’d speak of his name with the other superstar guards of his time – even Jerry West.  Despite playing alongside West and Wilt, the best guy at getting the ball to go through the hoop was Goodrich.” – Don

9) George Mikan – Minneapolis Lakers – 1948 – 1954, 1955 – 1956

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Lakers accomplishments:

- basketball Hall of Fame
- member of one Lakers BAA championship team
- member of four Lakers NBA championship teams
- BAA leader in field goals made in 1948/49
- BAA leader in free throws (made & attempted) in 1948/49
- BAA leader in points in 1948/49
- NBA leader in field goals made in 1949/50 & 1950/51
- NBA leader in field goals attempted in 1949/50, 1950/51 & 1951/52
- NBA leader in free throws (made & attempted) in 1949/50 & 1950/51
- NBA leader in total rebounds in 1952/53
- NBA leader in points in 1949/50 & 1950/51
- BAA leader in points per game in 1948/49
- NBA leader in rebounds per game in 1951/52 & 1952/53
- NBA leader in points per game in 1949/50 & 1950/51
- four-time NBA All-Star
- one-time All-BAA selection
- five-time All-NBA selection

“The first dominant big man to ever play basketball, Mikan walked the path that many of the game’s dominant big men would follow. He redefined the center position with his prolific rebounding, scoring and use of the hook shot.” – Diego Quezada

“Shaq had so much respect for the original Lakers big man that he paid for Mikan’s funeral in 2005.” – Jeff Fox

8) James Worthy – Los Angeles Lakers – 1982 – 1994

Lakers accomplishments:

- basketball Hall of Fame
- jersey number (42) retired by team
- member of three Lakers NBA championship teams
- NBA leader in games played in 1983/84 & 1986/87
- seven-time NBA All-Star
- NBA Finals MVP
- NBA All-Rookie Team
- two-time All-NBA selection

“He was the third wheel on the Lakers’ Showtime team that featured Magic and Kareem, but he is still a great player. When Kareem began to decline, it was Worthy who picked up the slack, always delivering clutch performances when the team needed him to.” – Diego Quezada

“Big Game James.  The antithesis of another well-known current small forward, Worthy managed to find a little bit more playing the big games – a well-rounded player… a complete player, his defining moment probably came during the 88 Finals, when in game 7 Worthy amassed a massive 36 points, 16 rebounds and 10 assists (the ONLY triple double of his career!) – and took the Lakers past the Pistons… winning the Finals MVP.” – Don

7) Wilt Chamberlain – Los Angeles Lakers – 1968 – 1973

Lakers accomplishments:

- basketball Hall of Fame
- jersey number (13) retired by team
- member of one Lakers NBA championship teams
- fourth all-time in minutes played in the NBA
- third all-time in field goals made in the NBA
- sixth all-time in field goals attempted in the NBA
- second all-time in free throws attempted in the NBA
- first all-time in total rebounds in the NBA
- fourth all-time in points in the NBA
- first all-time in minutes per game in the NBA
- second all-time in points per game in the NBA
- first all-time in rebounds per game in the NBA
- NBA leader in games played in 1972/73
- NBA leader in field goal % in 1966/67, 1967/68, 1968/69, 1971/72 & 1972/73
- NBA leader in free throws attempted in 1968/69
- NBA leader in total rebounds in 1968/69, 1970/71, 1971/72 & 1972/73
- NBA leader in minutes per game in 1968/69
- NBA leader in rebounds per game in 1968/69, 1970/71, 1971/72 & 1972/73
- four-time NBA All-Star
- NBA Finals MVP
- one-time All-NBA selection
- two-time NBA All-Defensive selection

We’ve discussed Wilt already.  LA moved heaven and earth to get him, and it eventually paid dividends: in the ’71/72 season, where he out-played Kareem Abdul Jabbar (10 years his junior) and completely dominated the Knicks in the Finals with what was thought to be a sprained hand.  It was broken.  Guy was a beast before he played in LA, and was certainly the same whilst he wore the purple and gold.” – Don

6) Elgin Baylor – Minneapolis/Los Angeles Lakers – 1958 – 1971

Lakers accomplishments:

- basketball Hall of Fame
- jersey number (22) retired by team
- Lakers all-time leader in field goals attempted & total rebounds
- tenth all-time in field goals attempted in NBA history
- sixth all-time in minutes per game in NBA history
- fourth all-time in points per game in NBA history
- ninth all-time in rebounds per game in NBA history
- NBA leader in games played in 1962/63
- 11-time NBA All-Star
- NBA Rookie of the Year
- 10-time All-NBA selection

“Most young bucks don’t truly know how great of a player he was. 23,000 career points with the franchise… 6,000 more than Magic!” – College Wolf

“It’s been said that Baylor could do it all.  Dribble like a demon, pass like Magic, score in oh-so-many ways whenever he wanted.  One of the best players to ever don a Lakers uniform, Baylor’s one smear on a stellar career is never having won a title.  If he had a few rings?  Who knows where we’d place him…” – Don

“Three of the five best centers of all-time played for the Lakers (Shaq, Wilt, Kareem), yet who leads the franchise in rebounding?  The 6’5″ Baylor.” – Jeff Fox

5) Shaquille O’Neal – Los Angeles Lakers – 1996 – 2004

Lakers accomplishments:

- member of three Lakers NBA championship teams
- fifth all-time in field goals made in NBA history
- second all-time in field goal % in NBA history
- third all-time in free throws attempted in NBA history
- sixth all-time in offensive rebounds in NBA history
- eighth all-time in defensive rebounds in NBA history
- seventh all-time in blocks in NBA history
- fifth all-time in points in NBA history
- NBA leader in field goals made in 1998/99, 1990/00 & 2000/01
- NBA leader in field goal % in 1997/98, 1998/99, 1999/00, 2000/01 & 2001/02
- NBA leader in free throws attempted in 1998/99, 1999/00, 2000/01, 2001/02 & 2003/04
- NBA leader in points in 1998/99 & 1999/00
- NBA leader in points per game in 1999/00
- seven-time NBA All-Star
- three-time NBA Finals MVP
- one-time NBA MVP
- eight-time All-NBA selection
- three-time NBA All-Defensive Team selection

“He left ungraciously and may not even have his jersey retired considering that he’ll wear green and white this season, but no one should diminish what O’Neal provided during his eight seasons in Los Angeles. Very seldom has a player dominated the game through athleticism and power as much as Shaq dominated his opponents wearing the purple and gold.” – Diego Quezada

“Probably the biggest example of “Oh, what could have been…”" – College Wolf

“Quite simply the most dominant player in the NBA since Russell and Chamberlain were roaming the floor. You know you are pretty good if they make rules especially for you. They widened the lane for Wilt, they allowed teams to play zone for Shaq. It is just too bad O’Neal never cared until the postseason. Kind of feel like we were cheated out of seeing one of the most incredible displays of power and grace ever. What we got was pretty good though (except for me, being an Orlando Magic fan).” – Philip

4) Jerry West – Los Angeles Lakers – 1960 – 1974

Lakers accomplishments:

- basketball Hall of Fame
- jersey number (44) retired by team
- member of 1972 Lakers NBA championship team
- Lakers all-time leader in free throws (made & attempted)
- fifth all-time in free throws made in NBA history
- seventh all-time in free throws attempted in NBA history
- seventh all-time in minutes per game in NBA history
- fifth all-time in points per game in NBA history
- NBA leader in games played in 1960/61
- NBA leader in free throws made & attempted in 1965/66 & 1969/70
- NBA leader in assists per game in 1971/72
- NBA leader in points per game in 1969/70
- 14-time NBA All-Star
- NBA Finals MVP
- 12-time All-NBA selection
- five-time NBA All-Defensive Team selection

“With the playmaking ability of a point guard and the scoring prowess of a shooting guard, West was one of the best to pick up a basketball. Moreover, West had an obsession with attempting to improve as a player, always demanding more of himself.” – Diego Quezada

“You get the feeling everyone would remember West more if he played in the three-pointer era. He was one of the best shooters in NBA history, a gifted scorer and playmaker. It was too bad he could not climb over the Celtics until Wilt Chamberlain arrived - and even then he struggled winning only one title. He later became the architect for two Lakers dynasties, adding more hardware to his trophy case. The man is The Logo. Enough said.” – Philip

3) Kareem Abdul-Jabbar - Los Angeles Lakers – 1975 – 1989

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Lakers accomplishments:

- basketball Hall of Fame
- jersey number (33) retired by team
- member of five Lakers NBA championship teams
- Lakers all-time leader in games, minutes, field goals made, offensive & defensive rebounds & blocks
- second all-time in games played in the NBA
- first all-time in minutes played in the NBA
- first all-time in field goals (made & attempted) in the NBA
- tenth all-time in field goal % in the NBA
- seventh all-time in free throws made in the NBA
- fifth all-time in free throws attempted in the NBA
- fifth all-time in defensive rebounds in the NBA
- third all-time in total rebounds in the NBA
- third all-time in blocks in the NBA
- first all-time in points in the NBA
- ninth all-time in blocks per game in the NBA
- NBA leader in minutes played in 1975/76
- NBA leader in field goals made in 1976/77
- NBA leader in field goal % in 1976/77
- NBA leader in defensive rebounds in 1975/76 & 1976/77
- NBA leader in total rebounds in 1975/76 & 1976/77
- NBA leader in blocks in 1975/76, 1976/77, 1978/79 & 1979/80
- NBA leader in rebounds per game in 1975/76
- NBA leader in blocks per game in 1975/76, 1978/79 & 1979/80
- 13-time NBA All-Star
- three-time NBA MVP
- one-time NBA Finals MVP
- 10-time All-NBA selection
- seven-time NBA All-Defensive Team selection

“Arguably the best center of all time, Kareem was a consummate professional, on and off the court. He used his length to dominate offensively and block shots, but was also athletic enough to run with the Showtime Lakers. One of the most physically fit players ever, Kareem averaged 23 points per game when he was 39-years-old.” – Diego Quezada

“As the lengthy list of accomplishments above shows, Kareem had quite a career.  And that’s not even mentioning him starring in two of the greatest movies of all-time – Airplane! and The Game of Death.  That’s almost enough to put him first on this list!” – Jeff Fox

2) Kobe Bryant – Los Angeles Lakers – 1996 – present

Lakers accomplishments:

- Lakers all-time leader in three-pointers (made & attempted) & points
- member of five Lakers NBA championship teams
- ninth all-time in free throws made in the NBA
- NBA leader in games played in 1998/99, 2007/08 & 2008/9
- NBA leader in field goals made in 2002/03, 2005/06 & 2006/07
- NBA leader in field goals attempted in 2005/06, 2006/07 & 2007/08
- NBA leader in free throws made in 2005/06 & 2006/07
- NBA leader in free throws attempted in 2006/07
- NBA leader in points in 2002/03, 2005/06, 2006/07 & 2007/08
- NBA leader in points per game in 2005/06 & 2006/07
- 12-time NBA All-Star
- two-time NBA Finals MVP
- one-time NBA MVP
- NBA All-Rookie Team
- 12-time All-NBA selection
- 10-time NBA All-Defensive Team selection

“You won’t find many people who can match The Black Mamba’s talent in the past nor the future. He is a dominant scorer, a disciplined defender and the best clutch shooter in the game right now.” – Diego Quezada

“Kobe was the first of the 2000s bunch of Shaquille O’Neal and Tim Duncan to get to five titles. He has as much Michael Jordan in him than anyone and quite simply can put the ball in the basket. You can play good defense on him and he will still light you up for 40. The 81-point game was both the most amazing offensive display and perhaps the most selfish. But it did not matter to Kobe. Why? Because the Lakers won that game. And that is all that matters to Mr. Bryant.” – Philip

1) Magic Johnson – Los Angeles Lakers – 1979 – 1991, 1996

Lakers accomplishments:

- basketball Hall of Fame
- jersey number (32) retired by team
- member of five Lakers NBA championship teams
- Lakers all-time leader in assists & steals
- fourth all-time in assists in the NBA
- first all-time in assists per game in the NBA
- NBA leader in assists in 1982/83, 1985/86 & 1986/87
- NBA leader in free throw % in 1988/89
- NBA leader in steals per game in 1980/81 & 1981/82
- NBA leader in assists per game in 1982/83 1983/84, 1985/86 & 1986/87
- 12-time NBA All-Star
- three-time NBA Finals MVP
- three-time NBA MVP
- NBA All-Rookie Team
- 10-time All-NBA selection

“The best point guard in the history of the NBA, Johnson was arguably the most complete basketball player ever. He was a guard who could rebound, a forward who could handle the ball and a big man who could move.” – Diego Quezada

“Magic’s flair and smile made people fall in love with basketball. There is no getting around it. He brought an unparalleled joy to the game and brought artistry to a game that had, frankly, turned ugly in the 1980s. His rivalry with Larry Bird quite possibly saved the NBA and he made basketball cool again. That description is all you need, you don’t need to get into the fact he was a 6-foot-9 point guard with an unbelievable knack for making the right play and doing things that were simply unbelievable.” – Philip

Previous franchises done: Atlanta, Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Cleveland, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Golden State, Houston, Indiana, Clippers.

About Jeff Fox

Jeff Fox is Mr. Manifesto - the Supreme Leader and evil mind behind The Hoops Manifesto & The MMA Manifesto

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