Throughout the history of the NBA, most of the dominant big men in the league have somehow gravitated towards the Los Angeles Lakers franchise. From George Mikan, the NBA’s first superstar center in Minneapolis to now Anthony Davis, the Lakers have always won with a star big man on the roster.
The biggest reason the Lakers were able to win their first championship in Los Angeles was the addition of the seven-foot-one legend Wilt Chamberlain to play alongside Jerry West to help them deal with Bill Russell down low.
Then Kareem was easily the best center to enter the league since Wilt, and he practically forced his way into playing in Los Angeles, the city where he became one of the most dominant collegiate players of all time, and cemented his legacy as one of the best professionals of all-time during the Showtime era.
When Shaquille O’Neal was looking to get over the hump and win a championship, he knew to follow in their giant hall of fame footsteps and join the franchise where dominant big men go to win. He proceeded to win three of his four championships during the prime of his career.
In the wake of Shaq’s departure, Kobe Bryant knew he needed another star big man to fill his 23 sized shoes the best they could, and it was not until Pau Gasol was miraculously traded for that he was able to win a title without O’Neal helping provide the one-two punch down low.
Fast forward to present times and the Lakers once again hit the jackpot when they were able to trade for superstar big man Anthony Davis and pair him with LeBron James who was already on the roster, but struggled to make the playoffs with the team before AD’s arrival.
One season into them playing together and they were able to put together a season to remember and bring home an NBA championship in the Orlando bubble.
Great big men are engrained in Los Angeles Lakers history.
In honor of their star big man’s return to superstar form after a long injury layoff this season, what better time to ponder the question of where AD ranks amongst the best big men that have worn the purple and gold. On any other franchise, he would be a surefire top-five player, let alone center/power forward, but on this list, he does not even crack the top five.
To meet the “big man” criteria and make this list, each Laker had to be over 6’9″ or taller and to have played at least some minutes at center in each season they played for the Lakers.
Yes Robert Horry and Lamar Odom are both 6’10” and made bigger contributions as Lakers than a majority of this list, but they were never considered as centers in their Lakers careers, so that is why they are not included on this list. Pau and AD may not be traditional centers, but they meet the criteria to make the list because they played the five in some lineups with the team.
Now that the rules have been established, let’s rank the 10 best big men to ever put on a Lakers uniform.