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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Michael Cooper #21 (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Michael Cooper #21 (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images) /

Greatest Lakers of all time: 14- Michael Cooper

  • 12 seasons, 873 games, 5 titles
  • 8.9 PPG
  • 4.2 RPG

The hard-nosed Coop’s value far exceeds his stats. He was an extremely versatile multi-position player and a true winner who did whatever the Lakers needed, which is why teammate Kareem Abdul-Jabbar calls him the team’s Swiss Army knife.

Initially, his primary role was a defensive stopper. Cooper guarded the opponent’s best perimeter player as closely as humanly possible, never allowing him to get comfortable. In particular, he gave Boston’s Larry Bird fits. He was named to the NBA All-Defensive first or second team for 8 consecutive years.

As the years went by, Michael also assumed more responsibilities on the offensive end. At first his chief skill was converting lob passes into “Coop-a-Loop” dunks. But starting in 1985 he developed an accurate 3-point shot, converting 38% or better in 3 of the next 4 years. He also became a good enough ball-handler to back Magic up at point guard, and even started some games there when Johnson was hurt. Overall, he improved his game as a pro as much as any player ever has.

Every winning team needs role players like Michael Cooper, who ranks 10th in APG, 16th in total points and 7th in games played for the Lakers. It is difficult to separate him from Scott in the ratings. Each had different strengths. But Coop gets the nod- barely- because of all the intangibles he contributed to the team’s success. He joined Magic and Abdul-Jabbar as the only Showtime Era Lakers to earn 5 championship rings.

Any of the last four players, Nixon, Odom, Scott and Cooper, would likely fit into the top 10 of most other teams. The fact that they only rank in the Lakers teens is a testament to how many great players the team has had. So does the ranking for the next player