Who are the best players in the history of the Lakers? Although the best players are not the same for everyone, there have been players who have distinguished themselves and have succeeded in making their name a reference in the history of basketball. The most important thing is to identify and recognize the merit of each player, based on their personal background and statistics.
KOBE BRYANT #8 and #24
Born: August 23, 1978
Lakers Player: 1996-2016
Position: Shooting Guard and Small Forward
Five time NBA champion with the Lakers, Kobe Bryant has spent his entire career with the Lakers, where he is the top scorer with 33,643 points. Bryant also sits as the Lakers’ all-time leader in several categories, including games (1,346), minutes (48,637), 3-pointers (1,827), free throws (8,378) and steals (1,944).
Kobe Bryant has also achieved several spectacular performances. On 24 occasions, he has surpassed the symbolic bar of 50 points scored in a match. Only the center Wilt Chamberlain (118 times) and Jordan (31 times) did more. He also split 81 points on January 22, 2006, the second-highest total in the NBA, behind Chamberlain’s 100 points in 1962.
In 20 seasons, Kobe Bryant has won five rings, a regular season MVP trophy, two Final MVP trophies and a career average of 25.1 pts and 5.3 rebounds per game.
- MVP Titles: 1 (2008)
- NBA Titles: 5 (2000, 2001, 2002, 2009, 2010)
- All-Stars Selections: 18
- All-Star Game MVP: 2002, 2007, 2009, 2011
- All-NBA First Team: 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013
- All-NBA Second Team: 2000, 2001
- All-NBA Third Team: 1999, 2005
- NBA All-Defensive First team: 2000, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011
- NBA All-Defensive Second team: 2001, 2002, 2012
- Best NBA Scorer: 2006, 2007
- Olympic Awards: Gold (2008, 2012)
SHAQUILLE O’NEAL #34
Born: March 6, 1972
Lakers Player: 1996-2004
In the world of basketball, it’s hard to miss Shaquille O’Neal. He has marked the league with his exceptional physical abilities. At 7’1” and more than 309lb, with a unique mobility for his build, Shaquille O’Neal was an unstoppable beast and one of the most dominant players of his generation.
Aside from three NBA titles and three Finals MVP awards, O’Neal was also voted to seven All-Star Games (won two All-Star Game MVPs), five All-NBA First Team selections and one All-NBA Second Team selection, plus three All-Defensive-Team nominations while in Los Angeles.
- MVP Titles: 1 (2000)
- NBA Titles: 2000, 2001, 2002, 2006
- All-Stars Selections: 15
- All-Star Game MVP: 2000, 2004, 2009
- NBA rookie of the year: 1993
- All-NBA First Team: 1998, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006
- All-NBA Second Team: 1995, 1999
- All-NBA Third Team: 1994, 1996, 1997, 2009
- NBA All-Defensive Second Team: 2000, 2001, 2003
- Best NBA Scorer: 1995, 2000
- Olympic Awards: Gold (1996)
JAMAAL WILKES #52
Born: May 2, 1953
Lakers Player: 1977-1985
Position: Power Forward and Small Forward
Introduced at the Hall Of Fame, Jamaal Wilkes took full advantage of Magic Johnson’s contribution from 1979 in L.A. by averaging over 20 points over three seasons.
Selected 11th in the draft in 1974 by the Golden State Warriors, with whom he won the Rookie Of the Year award and an NBA title in 1975, he then joined the Lakers in 1977. With an incredible jump shot, Wilkes’ nickname was, “the 20 foot layup”, and he won three NBA titles with the Californian franchise.
In 1980, Jamaal Wilkes played one of the best games of his career. In game 6 of the NBA finals, teammate Magic Johnson played an incredible 42 points, 15 rebounds and 7 assists to help the Lakers win the ultimate title. During this game, Wilkes was also crucial for the Lakers, scoring 37 points (including 16 points in the 3rd quarter) and 10 rebounds.
- NCAA All-American
- NCAA Champion with UCLA (1972, 1973)
- 17.7 points and 6.2 rebounds per game in 12 NBA seasons
- NBA Champion (1975, 1980, 1982, 1985)
- Rookie of the Year in 1975
- Three times NBA All-Star (1976,1981, 1983)
- NBA All-Defensive Second Team in 1976 and 1977
JAMES WORTHY #42
Born: February 27, 1961
Lakers Player: 1982-1994
Position: Small Forward and Power Forward
Recognizable by his round glasses, Worthy has spent his entire career with the Lakers. Sixth-best scorer in the franchise, he won three NBA titles with Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the last of which was in 1989 when he scored 42 points in the decisive seventh game against Detroit.
Indeed, his playoff averages swell to 21 points and more than five rebounds! The more the pressure increases, the better James Worthy was, hence his nickname “Big Game James”.
- NBA Champion in 1985, 1987 and 1988
- NBA Finals MVP in 1988
- Seven-time NBA All-Star selection from 1986 to 1992
- Two times All-NBA Third Team selection in 1990 and 1991
- NBA All-Rookie First Team in 1983
- One of the 50 best players in the NBA
- NCAA Champion in 1982
- MOP of the Final Four NCAA in 1982
EARVIN “MAGIC” JOHNSON #32
Born: August 14, 1959
Lakers Player: 1971-1991, 1996
Position: Point Guard
Earvin Johnson Jr. was a talented player who could play in any position. He spent his entire career with the Los Angeles Lakers. Very few athletes are truly unique in their genre, able to transcend their sport in the way the public perceives it. Magic Johnson is one of them.
Undisputed king of the spectacular pass, Magic was the master of Showtime in Los Angeles during the 1980s. Able to cover all positions on a court, Earvin “Magic” Johnson was an atypical player at the end of the seventies. While still a student, this very tall leader was already attracting the attention of the media, which continued to make the wildest comparisons about his potential. If Bob Cousy was the star of the 1950s, Oscar Robertson the star of the 60’s, and Julius Erving the star of the 70’s, then Magic was indeed the star of the 80’s.
A born competitor, the leader relaunched the Los Angeles Lakers alongside Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Magic made this versatility revealed during his rookie season, a major asset during the 1980 NBA finals. In the sixth game of the finals, Johnson delivered a magical performance against Julius Erving (76ers). With 42 points, 15 rebounds, 7 assists, and 3 interceptions, he led L.A. to victory and was awarded the trophy for best player in the finals.
- MVP Titles: 3 (1987,1989,1990)
- NBA Titles: 5 (1980, 1982, 1985, 1987, 1988)
- All-Stars Selections: 12
- NBA Final MVP: 3 (1980, 1982, 1987)
- All-NBA First team: 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991
- All-NBA Second team: 1982
- Best NBA Passer: 1983, 1984, 1986, 1987
- Best NBA Steals Leader: 1981, 1982
- Olympic Awards: Gold (1992)
KAREEM ABDUL-JABBAR #33
Born: April 16, 1947
Lakers Player: 1975-1989
He is considered to be the best center of all time. No other player scored more points than him in the NBA: 38,387!
With a list of achievements as long as his character’s legs in “The Game of Death”, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has left his mark on the NBA. An athletic and technical player, his famous “SkyHook” remains undoubtedly one of the most iconic and effective moves in basketball. Long before the advent of the era (of Air) Jordan, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was probably the most unstoppable player in attack.
- NBA Champion in 1985, 1987 and 1988
- MVP of the NBA Finals in 1988
- Seven times NBA All-Star from 1986 to 1992
- Two times All-NBA Third Team in 1990 and 1991
- All-Rookie First Team in 1983
- One of the 50 best players in the NBA’s 50th anniversary
- NCAA Champion in 1982
- MOP of the Final Four NCAA in 1982
JERRY WEST #44
Born: May 28, 1938
Lakers Player: 1960-1974
Position: Shooting Guard and Point Guard
Known as one of the best shooting guards in history, the silhouette of Jerry West is the logo of the NBA. It is hard to imagine a better symbol to recognize the player’s impact on the league. Very often decisive, the man who is nicknamed “Mr Clutch” and “The Logo” embodies the excellence of basketball by his ability to change the course of a game on both sides of the field.
An intelligent and hardworking player, West was the captain of the legendary Los Angeles trio during the 70’s. Alongside the legends Elgin Baylor and Wilt Chamberlain, he finally won the title in 1972. With 46.3 points per game, Jerry West holds the record for the best average points scored during a series of playoffs.
It was almost impossible to stop The Logo, and his career average can testify to that: 27 pts and 5.8 rebounds. Jerry West won his only ring with Wilt Chamberlain in 1972.
ELGIN BAYLOR #22
Born: May 28, 1938
Lakers Player: 1960-1972
Position: Small Forward
Elgin Baylor revolutionized basketball. Baylor was the first large dunker in NBA history, an elegant and airy player with huge statistical lines. Strangely enough, although Baylor played in eight NBA finals between 1958 and 1971, he did not earn any rings.
Elgin Baylor spent his entire career with the Lakers, never winning the title of his dreams. He distinguished himself in his first season (first choice of the 1958 draft) by being the best rookie of the 1958-1959 season with 25 points per game with the Lakers (then in Minneapolis).
- Ten times All-NBA First Team from 1959 to 1965 and 1967 to 1969
- Eleven times All-Star Game from 1959 to 1965 and 1967 to 1970,
- NBA All-Star Game MVP in 1959
- Ranks first in Lakers franchise history in rebounds (11,463)
- Ranks fourth in Lakers franchise history in points (23,149)
- Retired as the NBA’s third all-time leading scorer
WILT CHAMBERLAIN #13
Born: August 21, 1936
Lakers Player: 1968-1973
A true Goliath of his time, Wilt Chamberlain’s physical domination over the rest of the league was unparalleled. The figures speak for themselves: more than 30,000 career points, a 100-point game, a season with more than 50 points per game and a career average of more than 20 rebounds per game.
An outstanding athlete since his teenage years, Chamberlain was a sports phenomenon rarely seen, capable of excelling in many disciplines. His size made him choose basketball as his sport of choice. From then on, Wilt, who was nicknamed “Wilt the Stilt” would impose his domination throughout his career.
He is undoubtedly one of the greatest and most influential athletes in the history of sport in. If Chamberlain only won two titles in the end, he will remain an icon of the 1960s along with Bill Russell.
- MVP titles: 4 (1960, 1966, 1967, 1968)
- NBA titles: 2 (1967, 1972)
- All-Stars Selections: 13
- All-Star game MVP: 1960
- NBA Finals MVP: 1972
- NBA rookie of the year: 1960
- All-NBA First team: 1960, 1961, 1962, 1964, 1966, 1967, 1968
- All-NBA Second team: 1963, 1965
- NBA All-Defensive First Team: 1972, 1973
- Best NBA marker: 1960, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966
- Best NBA passer: 1968
- Best NBA Rebounder: 1960, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1971, 1972, 1973
GAIL GOODRICH #25
Born: April 23, 1943
Lakers Player: 1965-1976
Position: Shooting Guard
NBA champion in 1972, Goodrich scored over 13,000 points in his nine seasons with the Lakers.
- 1972 NBA champion
- Five times NBA All-Star (1969, 1972-1975)
- 1974 All-NBA First-Team selection
- Eighth all-time in franchise history in points (13,044) and assists (2,863)
These exceptional players have one common point: their jerseys have been retired by the Lakers in honor of their career and their contribution to the history of the Californian league.
- 8 – Kobe Bryant
- 13 – Wilt Chamberlain
- 22 – Elgin Baylor
- 24 – Kobe Bryant
- 25 – Gail Goodrich
- 32 – Earvin « Magic » Johnson
- 33 – Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
- 34 – Shaquille O’Neal
- 42 – James Worthy
- 44 – Jerry West
- 52 – Jamaal Wilkes
A few statistics of our 10 most influential Lakers players
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Have you enjoyed this article? Then make sure to check out our Top 10 NBA Teams of All Times.