Los Angeles Lakers: 50 Greatest Players in Lakers History (Updated 2023)

(Photo by Chris Elise/NBAE via Getty Images)
(Photo by Chris Elise/NBAE via Getty Images) /
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Norm Nixon #10 (Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images)
Norm Nixon #10 (Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images) /

Greatest Lakers of all time: 18- Norm Nixon

  • 6 seasons, 485 games, 2 titles
  • 15.7 PPG
  • 8.3 APG
  • 1.8 steals

Stormin’ Norman has been somewhat forgotten and is often under-rated by many of today’s fans. He was an outstanding player for the Lakers in the late 70s and in the early years of the Showtime Era.

Nixon was a first-round pick (22nd) of the 1977 draft. He immediately impressed coaches and teammates and moved right into the starting lineup as a rookie. That team already had an excellent scoring duo of Abdul-Jabbar and Jamaal Wilkes and also added Adrian Dantley shortly after the season began. Nixon fit in extremely well, averaging 13.7 points and 6.8 assists, good rookie marks that each turned out to be career lows.

The Lakers lost in the playoffs both that year and the following season to eventual Western Conference champion Seattle. In the 1979 offseason, they drafted point guard Magic Johnson with the top pick of the draft, prompting fans to wonder how well Nixon and Johnson would fare together in the same backcourt.

The answer was, quite well indeed. In Magic’s rookie season, they had very similar statistics, collectively averaging 35.6 points and 15 assists per game, and helping the Lakers win the 1980 title.

Altogether Nixon and Johnson played 4 seasons together, compiling comparable and sometimes even better numbers, and the Lakers won another championship in 1982. But after falling short in 1983, the team wanted to pair Magic with a younger, more athletic, better-defending teammate, and traded Nixon on draft day for Byron Scott.

Throughout his Lakers career, Norm was known for his ball-handling and passing skills, for being one of the league’s fastest players off the dribble, and for his very accurate jumper from the top or side of the key. He was remarkably consistent, averaging between 17 and 18 points for 4 consecutive seasons, and made one all-star team.

Overall, in 6 Lakers seasons, Nixon ranks 2nd all-time in APG, 3rd in steals, 14th in career points, 15th in PPG, 20th in Laker games played. and connected on a very strong 48.3% of his shots from the field. His good stats unsurprisingly carried over to the postseason, where he is 2nd in assists and 10th in PPG and 20th in total points. Norm also ranks 11th among all NBA players in assists per game.