The Los Angeles Lakers are the Dallas Cowboys and New York Yankees of the NBA. The most storied franchise in NBA history has produced many of the greatest championship moments as well as many of the greatest players to step on an NBA court. This list will pay homage to the 50 greatest Los Angeles Lakers of all-time.
#50 Ron Harper
While Ron Harper was best known as the Michael Jordan stopper, Harper played an integral role in the Laker’s title run with Kobe and Shaq. With the Lakers, Harper was a veteran role player on the last legs of his career. However, he made his name known with Lakers fans for delivering key minutes in clutch situations. Without Ron Harper as a steady point guard presence, the Lakers might not have three-peated.
#49 Elmore Smith
Elmore Smith was the bridge between two great centers, Wilt Chamberlain and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. A center himself, Lakers fans had high expectations after he replaced Chamberlain. Yet Smith shined, leading the league in blocks in 1973-1974, including a 17 block performance. While his stint with the Lakers was short, he contributed to a playoff run in the 1973-1974 season making a lasting impression with Lakers fans in the process.
#48 Jim Krebs
Jim Krebs was mostly a backup center his entire career with the Lakers. However, his loose, fun-loving personality was legendary as many Lakers teammates recounted how his humor brought the team together. His humor paid off in the latter stages of his career when the Lakers reached the finals in back to back seasons (1961-1962, 1962-1963).
#47 Dick Garmaker
Dick Garmaker was a star for Minnesota Lakers, making the all-star game in each of his 4 seasons with the team. While the team didn’t finish above .500 in any of Garmaker’s seasons, Garmaker was not the problem. If he wasn’t traded to the New York Knicks, I believe the Lakers could have won those championships in the 1961-162 and 1962-1963 seasons.
#46 Mike McGee
While a role player during his time with the Lakers, he played fantastic within his role. He was a spark plug for the team with an ability to find his shot whenever called upon. Towards his last years with the team, McGee even developed a decent three-point shot, something rare for his time. McGee’s contributions to two NBA championships and the Laker’s golden years puts him on this list.
#45 Sam Perkins
Sam Perkins only played three seasons with the Lakers. However, Perkins was integral to the Lakers playoff runs during the early 90s period. The starting power forward of the Magic Johnson lead-Lakers, Perkins was a powerhouse down low. He dominated on defense and showed an ability to score off pick and rolls. While they lost to the Michael Jordan led Chicago Bulls in 1990-1991, Perkins’s contributions established a period of post-Kareem success.
#44 Luke Walton
From former Laker’s player to Laker’s head coach, Luke Walton has cemented himself in Laker’s history. While never more than a solid role player for the Lakers, Walton was one of those glue guys that made everyone’s job a little bit easier. Always playing within his role, Walton was a huge piece in the Lakers back to back championships in 09’ and 10’.
#43 Glen Rice
Glen Rice only played two seasons with the Lakers but was an integral part of the 00’ and 01’ championships. The third piece behind Kobe and Shaq, Rice dominated opposing small forwards with roughly 18 points per game. Often forgotten during this championship era, Rice was the additional scoring piece that made this team so successful.
#42 Metta World Peace
Arguably the greatest bad boy basketball player, Metta World Peace made a name for himself during the Malice at the Palace. Later in his career, talks surrounding his bad-boy reputation reemerged after he viciously elbowed James Harden in the head. In between these events and a name change later, Metta World Peace was a fan favorite for his energy and hustle he brought to Lakers squad. He roared the Staples center to life with his countless steals and empathetic dunks. Additionally, his name made him a fan favorite amongst the youth.
#41 Archie Clark
The third star after Elgin Baylor and Jerry West, Archie Clark was downright dominant in his role with the team. In his two seasons with the team – his rookie and sophomore seasons – Archie Clark was a force, averaging 19 points per game. This boost pushed the Lakers to playoff success in the late 60s but failed to push them over the edge. Regardless, many believe the Lakers wouldn’t have got far in the playoffs without Clark’s presence on the team.
#40 Rod “Hot Rod” Hundley
Another player during the Jerry West and Elgin Baylor years, Hot Rod Hundley was a key role player for this squad. He led the team in assists in the few seasons before Jerry West. Once Jerry West was drafted, Hundley took a backseat. However, the traits that defined him, impressive dribbling skills and quirky maneuvers, were ever so present. Hot Rod Hundley nearly created the showtime Lakers two decades early.
#39 Frank Selvy
Frank Selvy already had an impressive college career which included a 100 point game and one of the greatest buzzer-beaters in NCAA history. But his later years with the Lakers were some of his best. He was the quintessential role player at the small forward position always making the timely shot or hustle play to seal a victory. The Lakers would not have made back to back finals without Selvy.
#38 Andrew Bynum
Andrew Bynum could have been an all-time great Laker had injuries not taken a toll on his body. The dominant center had some of the best offensive footwork I’ve ever seen at the position. Even with such an impressive offensive game, Bynum was a premier interior defender as he averaged nearly two blocks per game. An integral piece to the Lakers back to back championships in the later 2000s, we can’t help but wonder what if for Andrew Bynum.
#37 Mel Counts
Mel Counts had two stints with the Lakers (the mid-60s and early 70s) bringing both eras playoff success. Every season he played, the Lakers made the playoffs. His presence was a huge reason why the Lakers made the postseason 15 years straight. The 7-0 menace is not forgotten by die-hard Laker fans.
#36 Jim McMillian
Jim McMillian joined the Lakers with high expectations as he was replacing Elgin Baylor. However, McMillian rose to the occasion scoring 19 points per game in the playoffs during their 1972 championship run. He was wise behind his years as his attitude towards the game resonated with the veteran leaders on the team. Displaying a lethal mid-range game and ability to drive to the basket, McMillian was integral in the Lakers 1972 championship and future playoff appearances.
#35 Ced Ceballos
Ced Ceballos only played for the Lakers for three seasons but that was all that was needed to cement his legacy. Ceballos averaged 20+ points per game in all three of his seasons, leading the Lakers to records above .580 and consecutive playoff appearances. While they never reached the finals, Ceballos was key in keeping the Lakers afloat post-Magic Johnson.
#34 Cazzie Russell
Cazzie Russell led a star-powered Knicks team to an NBA championship over the Lakers. Yet, he was so good he had to make the Lakers list. While his three years with the purple and gold led to zero playoff appearances, Russell was not at fault. A consistent scoring option, Cazzie elevated his teammate’s play. These mid 70s Lakers just lacked the star power to contend for a title.
#33 Sedale Threatt
Sedale Threatt is the 90s version of Cazzie Russell. While joining the Lakers later in his career, Sedale brought consistent and playmaking out of the point guard position. However, the Lakers failed to find success in the playoffs. Part of the problem was the Magic Johnson retirement. Another problem was the stacked Western Conference including the Jazz and Trailblazers. However, fans can attest that Threatt was not one of those problems.
#32 Nick Van Exel
Nick Van Exel began his successful career with the purple and gold in the mid-90s. Van Exel had high expectations as was drafted to replace the great Magic Johnson. While he never reached those levels, Van Exel held his own averaging a consistent 15 points and 7 assists. Van Exel ultimately stabilized and otherwise tanking Lakers.
#31 Elden Campbell
Elden Campbell played the entire 90s decade with the Lakers. Sadly, the season he left, 1999-2000, the Lakers won a championship. Again, the problem was not Elden Campbell but rather a stacked Western Conference featuring the Jazz, Trailblazers, and Rockets. Also, Magic Johnson was not himself after he emerged from post-retirement. Regardless, Campbell became a face of the Lakers in the 90s.
#30 Rick Fox
Mr. Hollywood aka Rick Fox fit perfectly with the Lakers. He married actress Vanessa Williams and has starred in a variety of television series. On the court, Fox was the spokesman for the Shaq and Kobe Lakers using his calm presence to quell many of the stronger personalities on the team. Ultimately, Fox’s role as a contributing starter helped propel the Lakers dynasty under Kobe and Shaq to three titles.
#29 Bob McAdoo
Bob McAdoo was one of the best shooting big men of all-time proving key for the golden-age showtime Lakers. While McAdoo never started for the Lakers, he averaged over 10 points per game in a bench role. With such a stacked Lakers team, this number was no easy feat. Ultimately, Bob McAdoo solidified a bench unit that would always remain strong with his presence. For that, McAdoo had to crack the top 30.
#28 Slater Martin
Slater Martin was a staple on the defensive end for the Minnesota Lakers. While not the most athletically gifted guard, Martin had a knack for intercepting passing lanes. He was the scrappy Matthew Dellavedova or Patrick Beverley of his time beloved by his teammates but despised by opposing teams. He was simply relentless in attacking the ball and ultimately contributed to four championships for the Lakers.
#27 Jim Pollard
Nicknamed the “Kangaroo Kid”, Jim Pollard was one of the most athletic forwards of the 50s era with his ability to dunk all the way from the free-throw line. Averaging nearly 14 points per game, Pollard, along with George Mikan and Vern Mikkelsen, won five titles for the original Minneapolis Lakers.
#26 Happy Hairston
Happy Hairston was a legend in the Lakers community. On the field, he and Wilt Chamberlain established one of the most dominant frontcourts in NBA history. Hairston was gifted on the boards averaging roughly 13 rebounds per game. Off the field, Hairston dabbled in television, appearing on a number of shows including Sanford and Sons and Happy Days.
#25 Mychal Thompson
Mychal Thompson, father of Klay Thompson, was a crucial role player on the Lakers 87’ and 88’ title team. Coming off a trade from the Spurs, Thompson provided the defensive energy to neutralize the historically great Celtics frontcourt of McHale, Bird, and Parrish. Overall, Thompson’s presence as a backup helped to solidify their own frontcourt and elevate the team to two championships.
#24 Eddie Jones
Eddie Jones was a fan favorite in the late 90s. Jones was a high flyer whose ability to intercept passing lanes led to amazing transition dunks. He was always in the right place at the right time on offense to make timely jump shots. Overall, the two-time all-star and all-defensive team player made huge contributions to the late 90s Laker’s squad. His status as a fan favorite elevates him on this list.
#23 Clyde Loveletter
Hall of Famer Clyde Loveletter revolutionized the NBA with his one-handed hook shots. Clyde also had a huge arsenal of offensive plays, which he used to average 17 points per game with the Lakers. He was one of the biggest pieces for the Lakers championship 1954 championship, a fan favorite on the team.
#22 Robert Horry
Robert Horry didn’t get his 7 rings out of pure luck. He didn’t impress statistically and was relegated to a bench role with the Lakers. However, his leadership and clutch shooting were second to none. When you needed Robert Horry to make a shot, Robert Horry would make that shot 99 out of 100 times. Horry will always be remembered for his clutch shooting that led the Lakers to their three-peat.
#21 Vlade Divac
Vlade Divac is often considered amongst the best European players to step on an NBA court. Drafted by the Lakers in 1989, Divac’s offensive footwork was second to none, leading the Lakers to playoff appearances in the early 90s. Divac also had the charisma of some of the greatest Lakers, appearing on commercials and television sitcoms. Divac embraced the Laker style of play and charisma off the court.
#20 Rudy LaRusso
Rudy LaRusso was a Laker legend during the Elgin Baylor and Jerry West days. One of the league’s premier power forwards, LaRusso and Baylor created a menacing frontcourt centered around defense and explosive playmaking. While he didn’t win a title with the Lakers, LaRusso’s solid 15 points and 9 rebounds per game solidified him as one of the greatest Lakers.
#19 Kurt Rambis
Kurt Rambis is another one of those scrappy, energetic role players every championship team needed. The Lakers were no exception as Rambis’s defensive intensity, effort, and scrappy play helped to cement the Lakers dynasty in the 80s. It didn’t stop there as he coached the Lakers under Phil Jackson to two more championships. Overall, Rambis played a part in 6 Lakers titles.
#18 Norm Nixon
Norm Nixon energized Lakers fans for years with his elite shooting and creative playmaking. Two all-star appearances, two NBA championships, and part of one of the most iconic plays in NBA history, Nixon had a very successful hall-of-fame career. His consistent presence shouldn’t be forgotten by Lakers fans.
#17 AC Green
Lakers fans should appreciate Green for always showing up to play. The NBA’s first iron-man player, Green held the record for most games played in a row at 1192 straight games. Green was always great off the glass, finishing in the top-10 in offensive rebounds per game. His consistent presence in every game helped the Lakers overcome injuries and bring the team to three-straight NBA titles.
#16 Derek Fisher
The Lakers were a team of riches in having both Robert Horry and Derek Fisher on their squads. Derek Fisher was just as clutch as Robert Horry, if not even more clutch. Time after time, Derek Fisher made big shot after big shot. Ultimately this assisted in 5 Lakers titles. His steady presence and veteran leadership proved just as valuable as his clutch gene.
#15 Pau Gasol
Pau Gasol had an impressive career and proved to be the missing piece in the Lakers 09’ championship run. The Spaniard was traded to the Lakers after Andrew Bynum suffered a serious knee injury, ultimately leading the team to a 22-5 record. For his career, Gasol was an 18 point 11 rebound power forward who dominated with his finesse moves. Pau Gasol is the reason the Lakers were able to bring home back to back championships in 09 and 10’.
#14 Jamaal Wilkes
Forward Jamaal Wilkes is one of the greatest Lakers of all time but was often overshadowed by other great legends Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. What made Wilkes so deadly was his ability to score at any position on the court. With Magic Johnson the de-facto point guard, Wilkes made coaches pay by beating one on one matchups. A 20 point scorer during his prime coupled with 4 NBA titles and 3 all-star appearances solidified Wilkes’s excellent career.
#13 Vern Mikkelsen
Vern Mikkelsen was one of the OG Minneapolis Lakers. Alongside George Mikan, the duo dominated opposing NBA frontcourts to four titles. In his ten year career, Mikkelsen averaged roughly 14 points and 10 rebounds per game with his strength being on the defensive end. Ultimately this strength proved necessary in bringing four titles to the Lakers franchise.
#12 Byron Scott
Byron Scott is another Laker legend often overlooked because he played with so many other Laker legends. However, his impact should not be forgotten. Scott was a three-point specialist that provided balance to the showtime Lakers that dominated the interior. In his prime, Byron Scott led the arguably greatest Laker team (87-88’) in scoring with 21.7 points per game while also tallying 4 rebounds and 4 assists per game. Winning 3 titles, contributing to the development of Kobe Bryant, and coaching the Lakers post-retirement puts Scott in the top 15.
#11 Gail Goodrich
Nicknamed “stumpy”, Gail Goodrich had an illustrious career with the Lakers, finishing in the top ten of many Lakers records. A key piece to the 1972 championship team, Goodrich was an elite scorer, averaging over 22 points per game his entire career with the Lakers. While often overlooked because of Elgin Baylor and Jerry West, fans should not forget Goodrich’s role in providing instant offense to this team.
#10 George Mikan
George Mikan was one of the most dominant players of his era. Five-time champion, George Mikan dominated with his 6-10 height playing literally above anyone else. Mikan averaged over 26 points per game for multiple seasons and used his height to become a defensive menace for any offense. Mikan carried the earlier Minneapolis Lakers in the 50s and for that deserves a top spot on this list.
#9 Michael Cooper
Michael Cooper is considered by many to be the best defensive player of his era. Brought in to guard the likes of Larry Bird, Cooper held his own neutralizing Larry Bird enough for the showtime Lakers to dominate the late 80s. Cooper was a fan favorite as he stopped Bird on countless drives to the basket. An 8-time all-defensive team player, he stands out as the greatest defender in Laker’s history.
#8 Wilt Chamberlain
13-time all-star, 4-time MVP, and 10-time all-NBA Wilt Chamberlain had to make this list. Chamberlain came to the Lakers in the latter portion of his career but was nonetheless a dominant presence for the team. While he didn’t dominant possession after possession as he did with the 76ers, Wilt focused more on his defense and playmaking ability. This proved key in the Lakers 72’ title run.
#7 Elgin Baylor
Elgin Baylor was one of the most exciting players in NBA history. He was feared by NBA coaches because he could do anything on the court. With his classic running bank shots, Baylor was unstoppable. While didn’t win a title until his final season with the Lakers, Baylor’s dominant offensive game inspired a generation of Lakers fans and players.
#6 James Worthy
James Worthy was essential to the success of the showtime Lakers. In two of the most successful Lakers championship runs (87 and 88’), Worthy led the team in scoring. He could score efficiently at any point on the court and provided a crutch when teams overplayed Johnson or Kareem. Worthy was that guy coaches just couldn’t account for and would make them pay in a big way.
#5 Shaquille O’Neal
Shaquille O’Neal along with Kobe Bryant created one of the most dynamic duos in NBA history. Both players fed perfectly well off each other – Shaq would dominate the inside while Kobe would dominate the mid-range area. Shaq was a physical specimen and one of the greatest centers of all-time. Coupled with his three-peat, Shaq had to make this list.
#4 Jerry West
The logo himself Jerry West is an all-time great player and all-time Laker. Despite his illustrious career, West only won one championship with the Lakers organization. While disappointing to say the least, fans appreciated West because of his dedication to the team despite their heartbreak. He is also one of three Lakers to get a statue outside the Staples Arena. Of course Jerry West is a top-ten Laker.
#3 Kobe Bryant
The mamba himself, Kobe Bryant oozes the Laker attitude. He was a fierce competitor who worked hard but put off a show for the audience in the process. Kobe had his own level of swagger that attracted fans but scared opponents. His most memorable highlights were not the countless game-winners, but the time he didn’t flinch when Matt Barnes shoved a ball in his face. Kobe is the epitome of greatness and defines an era of Laker basketball fans will never forget.
#2 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
Kareem is arguably the third-best player in NBA history. The cerebral assassin, Kareem beat you with not only his physicality but also his outstanding basketball IQ. He was world-renowned and adored by fans for his unguardable legendary skyhook shot. I personally loved Kareem for his calm and cool demeanor – he simply let his play on the court do all the talking.
#1 Magic Johnson
Magic Johnson was the heart and soul of the showtime Lakers and arguably the greatest era in basketball history. His charisma was second to none drawing in younger audiences and bringing his teammates closer together as a unit. He put on a show during his time in LA with no-look passes and alley-hoops nearly every possession. While his greatest of all-time career was stifled by his retirement, Johnson’s legacy will always live on. Nobody can top Magic Johnson for what he has given to this franchise.
|32||Nick Van Exel||880||14.4||2.5||6.6||.405||.357||.8||.1||1||0||0||0|
|40||"Hot Rod" Hundley||431||8.4||N/A||3.4||.347||N/A||N/A||N/A||2||0||0||0|
|42||Metta World Peace||991||13.2||3.3||2.7||.414||.339||1.7||.5||1||1||0||10|
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