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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Kobe Bryant and others (Photo by Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images)
Kobe Bryant and others (Photo by Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images) /

Greatest Lakers of all time: 1- Kobe Bryant

  • 20 seasons, 1,346 games, 5 titles, 7 NBA Finals
  • 25.0 PPG
  • 4.7 APG
  • 5.2 RPG

From the time prior to the 1996 draft when West was blown away by Kobe’s work-out for the Lakers to the night in 2017 when the Lakers retired Bryant’s jerseys at Staples Center and Magic called him the greatest to wear the purple and gold, Kobe Bryant was magnificent.

One way to measure his greatness is to look at some of his statistics:

  • Durability: Bryant played 20 seasons and 1,346 regular-season games in a Lakers uniform. That is 6 more years and 253 games more than anyone else played. He also played the most postseason games.
  • Total Points: Kobe scored 33,643 regular-season points, the 3rd most in NBA history and 8,451 more than any other Laker scored. He also scored 5,640 postseason points, 4th in the NBA and nearly 1,200 more than any other Laker.
  • Points Per Game: he ranks 4th on the team in both regular season and postseason (25.6) points per game. He averaged 25 or more PPG in 12 of 13 seasons in his prime.
  • Single Game Scoring: he of course produced the second-highest single-game scoring output in NBA history, 81 points, one of six times he exceeded 60 points. He also scored 50 or more points in 26 games (10 times in the 2006-07 season, including 5 straight). He tallied 40 or more points in 135 games (3rd all-time behind Wilt Chamberlain and Michael Jordan) plus 12 more times in the playoffs. Kobe also scored 63 in just 3 quarters (outscoring the entire Dallas team) in 2005, a Madison Square Garden record 61 points vs the Knicks in 2009, and a magical 60-point outburst in his final NBA game against Utah in 2016.
  • Playmaking: somewhat surprisingly for a big-time shooter, he ranks 7th on the team in average assists (and 30th in the NBA).
  • Awards & Honors: the Black Mamba was named to 18 all-star teams, including each of his final 17 seasons. He was voted all-NBA 15 times, 12 on the first team, and also made 12 all-Defensive teams, 9 times on the first team. Kobe was voted league MVP once (11 times finishing in the top 5), Finals MVP twice and all-star MVP 4 times. And he earned 5 NBA championship rings, equaling a team-high.

Beyond Kobe’s tremendous ability to put the ball in the basket, there was also his Warrior mentality. He drove his teams to the highest possible heights. Bryant had what Lakers announcer John Ireland called a “flair for the dramatic”.

He had a well-deserved reputation as one of the all-time best clutch players down the stretch of a game when his team needed him the most, often against the league’s best defenders. Among those he burned at the buzzer were Portland’s Scottie Pippen and Ruben Patterson, San Antonio’s Bruce Bowen, Sacramento’s Doug Christie, Phoenix’ Jason Kidd, Miami’s Dwyane Wade and Cleveland’s LeBron James.

Bryant was voted into the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility. The Lakers retired both of his jerseys, numbers 8 and 24, in 2017. And Lakers owner Jeannie Buss has indicated, to nobody’s surprise, that a statue in Kobe’s honor will be erected outside Staples Center in the not-too-distant future. All are fitting honors to one of the best players in NBA history, whose untimely death in 2020 is still mourned by basketball fans worldwide.

Arguments could be made that one of several other all-time Laker stars could be considered the greatest. But for the reasons defined at the outset- his longevity with the team, his peak performance and his contributions towards franchise success- Kobe Bryant earns the top ranking.

For those keeping track, the top 50 was comprised of:

  • 5 Minneapolis Lakers
  • 11 early LA Lakers of the 1960s and early 70s
  • 3 from the mid-to-late 1970s
  • 10 Showtime Lakers
  • 6 from the 1990s
  • 8 from the Kobe years
  • 7 of current & recent vintage

All statistics courtesy of www.basketball-reference.com

Next. 30 greatest scorers in Lakers history. dark