Unveiling the Lakers Top 10 All-Time Players

Feb 21, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Pat Riley (left) hugs Jerry West as they arrive at the Nokia Theater to attend the memorial service for Dr. Jerry Buss who passed away Feb 18, 2013. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers are an incredibly storied franchise, likely the most in the NBA. With 16 titles, 31 conference titles, and 23 division titles, as well as 9 retired numbers in their rafters, the Lakers are not short on history. Which means trying to narrow down the 10 greatest Lakers players is not an easy task, to say the least. We here at Lake Show Life are going to do our best to do so.

 

There was no stipulations to voting. Eight of our writers here ranked their respective top 10 Lakers, which was then compiled into one list. Over the next week and a half, we’ll unveil who our top 10 was, starting with number 10 and working down to number one, beginning with today.

 

10. Pau Gasol

9. George Mikan

8. James Worthy

7. Wilt Chamberlain

6. Elgin Baylor

5. Shaquille O’Neal

4.  Jerry West

3. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

2. Kobe Bryant

1. Magic Johnson

Topics: All-time, Los Angeles Lakers, Top 10

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  • Jim213

    Already disagree, those retired numbers should all be within top 10. Now Gasol #10 All Time Laker?#%

    • Tom Kraby

      Gasol won us 2 titles. His jersey will hang from Staples some day. This year he will prove his mettle.

      • Jim213

        Other Lakers like M Cooper and AC Green and others have won more titles and have been more consistent throughout their careers to not be considered before Gasol.

        • Tom Kraby

          As of today I agree. Coop and AC were integral parts much like D Fish and Rick Fox. This year Gasol will win you over without Dwightmare around. ;-)

          • Jim213

            It’s not win over he’ll be making close to $20 mil so I’d expect him to play lights out next season. Continue the argument on Lakers Nation.

          • imutau

            More like this is the end of his contract so to get another big contract he needs to play his heart out to make the Lakers or anyone else look his way come next free agency.

          • Daryl Peek

            The money he’s making is moot. His contract was grandfathered in. How can you expect consistency from Pau when he’s been consistently asked to change since 2010-11? Kobe has not been asked to change or constantly shopped like Pau has. The Mamba’s mentality is much different than most as we all know. This is why it’s his team not Pau’s.

            The alpha mentality Is also the reason Kobe and Shaq could not last. It almost destroyed Magic and Kareem.

        • imutau

          I’d say if this was a top 25 list those names would definitely be in there. But we are talking top 10. You cannot match up the impact of an AC Green to Pau Gasol.

          There could be an argument, to say had AC OR Cooper not been on the team they “may” have not won as may or any titles.

          BUT you can “definitely” say that if the Lakers roster had stayed the same minus Gasol there was no way they were gonna win another title.

        • Fern Rea

          Cooper and Green were role players that were interchangeable. they were important in the history of the Lakers but nobody is talking about them as the greatest Lakers of all time as role players. Nobody counts championships for role players, that is only counted for the guys at the top that actually did the heavy lifting.

          • Jim213

            Some of these could’ve played vital roles in other teams but thankfully settled within their roles. Without Coop (defensive stopper) along with other contributors I don’t believe the Lakers could’ve won that many rings in the 80′s.

          • Daryl Peek

            Coop could not be replaced. Green could and was given he was not there from the jump. Magic, Coop and Kareem were the constant big three throughout all 5 championships. Wilkes and Worthy may have been bigger offensively but the Showtime staple that was the Coop-A-Loop and team defensive MVP was always present and accounted for.

          • Fern Rea

            I dont know about Coop being a bigger contributor than Wilkes or Worthy, but you make good points about him being more important than all other role players mentioned.

            I have always had Coop over guys like Fish, Horry, Fox, Artest, etc. He is the first guy on my list after the core guys.

          • Daryl Peek

            Not saying he was better than Big Game James and Silk Wilkes but he had his name sake on both sides of the ball and deserves to be in the rafters. One tier below the aforementioned but above role players like Green, Rambis, Fisher and Horry.

          • Fern Rea

            I like that the Lakers have set the bar at HOF status to be up in the rafters.

            Sure it might keep guys like Coop from getting recognition that they probably deserve but there needs to be standards and with the Lakers they are incredibly high.

          • Daryl Peek

            Agreed. as you can see I will go all out to make a case for Coop.

            Sentiment would crowd the rafters if not for said standards. LOL

        • Daryl Peek

          Coop was slightly more than just a role player. Without Coop you don’t have Showtime. Green was absolutely a role player. Coop-A-Loop, DPOY, 8 times all defense, second to Magic in assist on the team, a SG that played back up PG, and worked himself into a good three point shooter.

          Again, without Copp there’s no Showtime. His impact was there from the beginning and was all important. He should be in the rafters. Not a NBA HOF’er but a Showtime Lakers one.

      • Fern Rea

        Agree. I dont think Gasol is a HOF for his NBA career but he will make the HOF based on his combined efforts in the NBA and internationally. Since all Lakers that are in the HOF that had a decent stint with the Lakers are in the rafters, so will Gasol one day.

        • Daryl Peek

          How can anyone say Gasol is not already HOF worthy?!?

          Career Averages

          Tim Duncan – 20.2 ppg, 11.2 reb, 3.1 assts, 50.7 fg%, 15.4 fga, 69.3 ft%, .7 stls, 2.2 blks

          Kevin Garnett – 19.1 ppg, 10.5 reb, 3.9 assts, 49.8 fg%, 15.4 fga, 79 ft%, 1.3 stls, 1.5 blks

          Dirk Nowitzki – 22.6 ppg, 8.2 reb, 2.6 assts, 47.5 fg%, 16.7 fga, 87.7 ft%, .9 stls, .9 blks

          Pau Gasol – 18.4 ppg, 9.2 reb, 3.3 assts, 51.8 fg%, 13.5 fga, 75 ft%, .5 stls, 1.6 blks

          Kevin Mchale – 17.9 ppg, 7.3 reb, 1.7 assts, 55.4% fg%, 12.7 fga, 79.8 ft%, .4 stls, 1.7 blks

          Everyone on this list is first ballot HOF worthy. Pau has the consistent HOF numbers and championship impact on a team. There’s no doubt Kobe would not have rings 4 & 5 without Gasol.

          • Fern Rea

            The player A would not have championship without player b is an argument that cant be proven and I dont like to take part in, but i get your point, Pau was instrumental in those 2 championships.

            You have a point about Pau’s numbers career wise when compared to other HOF forwards, but its not all about numbers. This isnt baseball.

            You have to look at Pau’s place in the NBA during his time, comparing him to other players at this position. Pau over most of his career has been behind numerous players. He played 6 seasons with Memphis and made 1 all star appearance so coaches didnt thing that highly of him until he starting lining up next to Kobe.

            Pau failed as a #1 guy in Memphis and didnt become a household name until he got the big stage of playing for the Lakers and next to Kobe. That failure as the #1 guy hurts him.

            Pau’s career numbers are also comparable to Carlos Boozer, Sharieff Abdul rahim, Al Jefferson to name a few and they arent HOFs.

            In the end, I agree Pau is a HOF but I think what takes him over the top is his international play. YOu can make a case for his NBA career alone being HOF worthy but I think it will be moot.

          • Daryl Peek

            Mchale was never the #1 option. KG failed as the #1 option. Dirk failed as #1 option til Tyson Chandler was added. Duncan is the only one who instantly succeeded as #1 option so that argument is moot given all on this list will be in the HOF.

            Boozer is a bad reference using the numbers man. We all know the difference in impact players. Carlos has been in the playoffs and was traded to contending teams but never made that instant over the top difference KG and Pau did. Apples to oranges.

            Duncan is arguably the greatest PF that thrived as a center also, of all time. His numbers are slightly better than Pau. His championship impact is far and away superior. But keep in mind were talking GOAT in Duncan. Pau is marginalized unfairly IMO. His numbers coupled with instant championship impact makes him a first ballot HOF’er regardless of the international theme.

          • Fern Rea

            At the end of this argument we end up in the same place and that is agreeing that Pau is a HOF. I dont think it matters how we got there.

            I do want to mention one thing though. The Lakers were already a title contending team right before they acquired Pau. People conveniently forget that the Lakers were 1 game behind New Orleans for the #1 spot in the West half way through the season before Bynum got hurt. Pau was brought in to sustain their success, he did not propel them over the top as you suggest.

            When Pau came over to the Lakers Kobe was in his prime, with the ability to carry a team, he just needed the right pieces to help support him. Bynum was that piece but got hurt. Pau replaced him.

          • Daryl Peek

            We’ll agree to disagree. Pau absolutely put them over the top. This is why EVERYONE was pissed over the Gasol trade. Coach Pop was absolutely incensed! He insinuated the league gift wrapped the Lakers another dynasty. You don’t hear that said by professionals the likes of Pop a contending competitor.

            You can’t interject a hypothetical on Bynum when his injury status has been proven.

            Fern, I see you as a very knowledgeable Laker fan that understands basketball. You can’t tell me you think Kobe and LO would play as well off of Bynum as they did Pau? That goes against Phil’s thought process. Even when Bynum was healthy Phil benched him for LO. Pau was a fixed constant from the jump.

          • Fern Rea

            They were pissed because the traded seemed one sided at the time, which it was. It wasnt until years later where the trade evened out.

            I dont know how it could have turned out if it was Bynum vs. Pau. I would say it would have been unlikely that the results would have been the same.

            But I dont like the idea that it was Pau that turned around the Lakers from doormats to champions. They were already getting there before his arrival. Pau helped sustain their rise to the top. That is how good Kobe was back then.

          • Daryl Peek

            Not about Pau changing the team from doormats. They were gonna be a playoff team and were the previous season. They weren’t a true championship contender til Pau. The Hornets ended up one game behind the Lakers and lost to the Spurs in the 2nd round. There’s no way we beat the Spurs without Pau. IMO This is what Pop knew.

            This is not a slight to Kobe. LBJ needed help, Duncan needed help, Shaq needed help. If Kobe had not matured, Shaq could likely be ring-less. In the same way Duncan would only have 2 rings if Ginobli and Parker had not matured.

          • Fern Rea

            They were much farther along than just being a playoff team, they were championship contenders before Pau. Maybe not serious ones because it was a sudden rise to the top.

            The previous years were the Smush years & they were barely making the playoffs, grabbing lower seeds.

            When Pau when down, the Lakers were the #2 seed in the West, that puts them in the discussion for a championship contention. That was never the case in the 2 previous seasons.

            All I am trying to say is that the Lakers were already on their way to becoming elite without Pau. Did Pau take them to another level? Sure, but not nearly as much as people (not you) like to make it seem.

            And remember, they lost that FInals against the Celtics and Pau was the goat. It was his lack of physical play and getting bullied by Perkins (mainly) and co. that attributed to the Lakers losing.

          • Daryl Peek

            I look at the 08 finals differently. Pau’s intensity did need to be better but it was more to it than just that. I’m sure you understand this.

          • imutau

            Actually early on it could have been argued that even Timmy wasn’t the number one option with Robinson in the mix.

          • Daryl Peek

            Actually Tim was, Robinson may have been the leader by seniority but Duncan grabbed the reigns from the jump.

            He took more shots, shot at a higher field goal %, scored more total points, played more minutes a game and grabbed more rebounds. Robinson took three more FT attempts a game and was a better free throw shooter. Robinson scored 1/2 a point more a game on average due to the extra FT’s. This was all in Timmy’s rookie season. By season two it was a wrap, Tim was boss no doubt.

    • Fern Rea

      Gasol deserves it easily. Championships matter in Lakers land and he was a big contributor as the #2 guy to 2 of those championships. that carries more weight than role players.

      • Jim213

        AC got two with Lakers though COOP 5 CHAMPIONSHIP rings yes they matter. Fish who was a big contributor before Pau has more rings too. I do have Fish over Pau in rank but Gasol still has years left to move up the list.

        • Fern Rea

          Rings dont enter into the conversation when we are talking about role players way down the list of importance to the team.

          Role players are plentiful and interchangeable, but those guys at the top are hard to find.

          Its like having a discussion of the greatest of all time and you bring up Horry because he has 7 rings. Who cares that he has 7 rings, that doesnt make him better than MJ or Magic.

          the ring count is only for discussing the best of the best. MJ, Magic, Wilt, Russell, etc.

          • Jim213

            Nobody is comparing franchise players to role players. Although, most of the All Time Lakers are franchise players. These players could’ve assumed a similar role in other teams but settled for other roles. Who’d want to leave the Lakers back then? that’s like leaving the Heat to play for the Bobcats/Hornets just for $$$.

            It’s overall consistency that’s been placed forth as we wouldn’t have won a ring or two without Horry or D Fish which doesn’t make them interchangeable (vital clutch players). This is just true consistent depth that’s being compared to the franchise players.

          • Fern Rea

            Its easier to replace the Horry and DFish of the world than the guys at the top.

            The Bulls with MJ and Pippen replaced all of the supporting players from their first 3 rings to their next 3 rings. Paxon, Hodges, Horace Grant turned into Dennis Rodman, Kerr and Ron Harper.

            Behind Kobe, they replaced all the players all the way down from their first 3 to their next 2. The only carry over was Dfish as one of the role players.

            You are putting way too much weight on role players who shouldnt get more credit for doing less than a guy like Pau was contributed more, a lot more, than the role players you are mentioning.

            Here is your logic. A company is flourishing and you want to give more credit to the accountant moreso than the CFO.

          • Jim213

            It’s not about franchise vs role players etc… it’s giving credit to the players who put in the work on a consistent basis. Even Gasol has mentioned his play hasn’t been that good as of late as he wants a better year this coming season (likely given his $20 mil pay).

            Gasol has helped the franchise to attain 2 rings but his inconsistencies doesn’t make him a Pippen to Michael comparison. There is the difference itself being that you believe that Gasol has put in more work than other players who happen to be role players yet he gets the credit?

            From a business perspective it’s like giving the CEO most of the credit for the business running efficiently when it’s the front line managers who communicate and ensure that the job gets done with the work force though the CEO places the vision/long term objective.

            Credit is being given to the consistent players that have helped the team meet their goal.

          • Fern Rea

            Why so much value to consistency? You can be consistently mediocre,consistently average and consistently horrible.

            It is a lot easier to be consistent if you have a smaller
            role like a Cooper, Fish, Fox, etc. All you are asked to do is a few things to help support the heavy lifters of the team, like, play tough D, hit an open shot every now and then and play your but off by chasing for loose balls, throw a few elbows. Do that for anywhere between 25 to 35 minutes a game.

            It is much harder to be consistent if you are asked to score around 20 points per game, pull down 10 to 12 rebounds, fight in the post for position against the bigs game in and game out. Oh, also beat your man every
            time down the court so we can feed the post and start the offense and battle it out with them on the defensive end. Do that for 82 games and possible 35 more in the playoffs but it will feel like 70 games because of the intensity of the playoffs.

          • Jim213

            ??? Aside of the Laker Greats these other ballers have put in great effort to help the team win rings which includes playing solid minutes and adapting to small roles.

            It seems that you’re giving Pau credit for the two yrs that brought us rings aside of his overall game and consistency. I like many others DISAGREE but yes everyone is entitled to their own top 10.

  • imutau

    All I know is that Magic better be number 1!! Only one I think could deserve it more is Jerry West.

    • Fern Rea

      Has to be #1? Kobe won as many title, didnt lose as many finals and played for the Lakers for more years. He will give the Lakers his 18 season this year with only 1 year not making the playoffs. Kobe is deserving at that top spot as much or maybe as more than both Magic and West.

      • imutau

        It’s give and take. Kobe has already come out and stated Magic is the greatest Laker ever and Magic has said the same of Kobe. I’d take Magic over Kobe for a few facts:

        1. They may have won the same amount of championships. BUT Magic won the NBA championship in his rookie season and also was the finals MVP (the only rookie to do so). He also has more finals MVP’s (3) than Kobe (2).

        2. Yes Kobe has and will play for the Laker’s 18+ years if healthy but the only reason is that Kobe was drafted out of High School.

        Magic went to college and won an NCAA championship. Also Magic’s time as a Laker was unfortunately cut short due to his being HIV positive. So he has accomplished all this and more playing in only 13 seasons as opposed to Kobe’s 17.

        3. If we compare the two at their respective positions, Magic was the assist leader for 4 seasons as a player and still has the best assists per game average in the NBA.

        Also as far as all time assists leaders yes Magic sits in 5th. But I could easily have seen Magic get pretty close to Stockton’s most career assists if he had played the additional 6 years Stockton did. Even if Magic averaged only 6 assists per game for 6 years he’d have easily beaten Jason Kidd for the second spot in most career assists by around 1000 assists.

        Also one could easily say that Magic was the greatest Point Guard ever in the league with only Stockton being the one others would argue about. BUT Stockton never won a championship and Magic got 5 and was MVP in three.

        Kobe was the scoring champion for 2 seasons and on the all time career scoring Kobe will probably push MJ out of third but I cannot see him getting much further and getting that extra 4000+ points to beat Malone at second.

        As far as the all time greatest Shooting Guards? Sorry but no one is beating MJ. Jordan has hit that plateau where even if the stats argue differently his legend will always win out.

        4. Magic was NBA MVP for 3 years to Kobe’s 1.

        As far Jerry West? How many other Laker’s are on the NBA’s logo? How many other players do you know of that won the NBA finals MVP even when their team lost?

        In the end they are all great players and Kobe’s history as a Laker is still being written. But for me Magic will always be the greatest Laker ever.

        • Fern Rea

          1. Magic winning in his 1st season has a lot to do that he came to a team that was already championship ready. Lakers were in semi the year before Magic arrived and went to a team w/ Jamal Wilkes, Kareem, Norm NIxon & Coop. Still, all good points.

          2. Why someone played more season is irrelavant. The results is all that matters and Kobe simply provided more to the Lakers franchise, a lot more. 12 seasons (not incl his comeback year) to 18 & counting.

          as far as Kobe coming in straight out of HS, Magic only played 1 year in college so that isnt a great point.

          Again, doesnt matter why, its Kobe 18 to Magic 12 seasons.

          3. Doesnt matter how they compare to other players at their same position in NBA history. We are discussing their impact on the Lakers only. Those points are relavant, albeit barely, in GOAT discussions. Even then, a player shouldnt be penalized because there were greater players at his position than another position.

          4. League MVPs are valid but the logo argument brings nothing of value to the conversation. Its a logo, nothing more, nothing less. The NBA just thought his silhouette looked cool.

          Anybody that puts Magic at #1 can make a valid case, I just dont see an argument that puts him #1 over Kobe. I dont even see it being close.

          • imutau

            You are allowed your opinion as am I and I feel the exact opposite. To plagiaries just a bit (cause I’m lazy):

            Anybody that puts Kobe at #1 can make a valid case, I just dont see an argument that puts him #1 over Magic. I dont even see it being close.

          • Fern Rea

            Thats the great thing about America. You can have your own opinion and they wont chop your hands off for it. Now, if it was up to me…

            Good stuff. Its an interesting debate.

  • Tom Kraby

    West should be #1. As a player and GM he is linked to 11 of the 16 titles.

    • Fern Rea

      He also lost title after title until he finally got 1 right before his career was over. That Knicks team that they faced was injured by the way so who knows if he ever wins a championship with the Lakers had they not been injured.

      When you start comparing the best of the best, you have to consider everything. Championships matter and West just has 1.

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  • Daryl Peek

    You could make a case that Baylor is ranked too high. When Elgin left the Los Angles Lakers, they finally won the NBA title while winning 33 games in row, thus having one of the greatest NBA seasons in league history.

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