The Top 5 Lakers in Franchise History

NBA | March 8, 2021


In 2020, the Los Angeles Lakers won their NBA-record 17th championship, as they joined the Boston Celtics at the top of the league’s leaderboard. The Lakers have one of the most illustrious histories in sports history, and they have a tremendous number of players who have made a mark on the franchise. Plenty of Lakers have graced the Staples Center court, but none of them have impacted the team more than these five Hall of Famers who all have their jerseys retired:

5. Jerry West
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Jerry West, currently an executive board member for the Los Angeles Clippers, spent two decades with the more successful Los Angeles franchise. The 1960 second overall draft pick played the third-most games in Lakers history and had the most points for a Laker until Kobe Bryant broke his record. According to Basketball-Reference, he owns the second-most win shares for a Laker all-time. Although West was a part of just one championship team (1972), he made 14 straight All-Star Games and was named to the All-NBA First Team 10 times.

4. Shaquille O’Neal
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Although Shaquille O’Neal played with six different franchises, his time with the Lakers will always be his most remembered. From 1996 to 2004, the seven-foot-one center dominated the paint and was a part of three consecutive championship teams. He was the NBA Finals MVP for each of those title teams. The 15-time all-star was able to get the fourth and final championship of his career in Miami, but Lakers fans will always think of O’Neal as a Laker. His 27 points per game and 1,278 blocks rank second in franchise history, and his player efficiency rating remains the best for a Laker ever.

3. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
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Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who was chosen No. 1 overall by the Milwaukee Bucks in 1969, was acquired by the Lakers prior to the 1975-76 season. He had one championship before he headed to Los Angeles, but his ironman mentality led him to a total of 19 All-Star Game selections (NBA record) and six titles (tied for 10th all-time). In four of his first five seasons with Los Angeles, Abdul-Jabbar led the league in blocks. However, his most impressive accomplishment may be the NBA’s highest point total all-time with 38,387 points.

2. Magic Johnson
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While Magic Johnson had one fewer championship than Abdul-Jabbar, No. 32 played his entire NBA career with the Lakers. His 138 triple-doubles and 11.2 assists per game are by far the most in franchise history. Also, among players who have played at least three seasons with the Lakers, Magic has the team’s best true shooting percentage. In total, he was a three-time MVP, three-time NBA Finals MVP, 12-time all-star, four-time assist leader, and two-time steals leader.

1. Kobe Bryant

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Like Magic, Kobe Bryant won five championships and was a career Laker. Unfortunately, he passed away in 2020, but his legend will live on forever. The 2008 NBA MVP and two-time NBA Finals MVP made 18 All-Star Games and won four All-Star Game MVP awards, which matched Bob Pettit for the record. The league named the All-Star Game MVP Award after Bryant for the February 16, 2020 game and beyond. The fourth quarter of the All-Star Game continues to use the “Elam Ending” in which the game will end when either team scores 24 more points than the leading team at the start of the fourth quarter.

Bryant’s NBA career was such a robust one that it included both the No. 8 and No. 24, which were both retired in 2017. His 33,643 points scored rank fourth all-time in NBA history, and he is ahead of players like Michael Jordan, Wilt Chamberlain, and Moses Malone. The Lakers made the perfect pick with the No. 13 overall selection in 1996. Lakers fans must be happy that the team wanted to part with Vlade Divac’s contract. Allen Iverson went first overall in the 1996 NBA draft, Ray Allen went fifth overall, and later on, the “Hornets” picked Bryant. The rest was history.

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Adam Lowenstein

Adam Lowenstein is a freelance sports journalist. He is also a dental resident at Tufts University. While completing his degrees, Adam wrote for numerous websites, covering various professional sports. Adam is a native of Massachusetts, and he attended Washington University in St. Louis when the St. Louis Rams were actually a thing. Adam recently completed his master's degree. In sports, Adam has spent the last couple of years covering the NBA, specifically the Boston Celtics.

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