The Los Angeles Lakers are one of the most popular teams in the NBA. They are also one of the most successful. In fact, only the Boston Celtics have been more successful than the Lakers. Boston’s 17-title haul is one more than Los Angeles’ total NBA championships won.

And like the Celtics who have produced some of the greatest players the game has ever seen, there have also been plenty of Laker greats that donned the purple and gold over time. But among them, these 10 stood out as the best Los Angeles Lakers players ever:

1. Kobe Bryant

No question, the Black Mamba is the greatest Laker of all-time. Even the players who are supposed to be his rivals for the title have acknowledged that. Magic Johnson, Jerry West, and Shaquille O’Neal have all publicly agreed that Kobe Bryant is the greatest Laker of all-time

Bryant was a Laker for life. After the Lakers traded for him on draft day in 1996, Kobe Bryant carried the purple and gold proud until his retirement in 2016.  Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal led the Lakers to a three-peat from 2000-2002 and after O’Neal left following a spat, Bryant proved that he could win a title without Shaq by winning back to back titles in 2009 and 2010. And yes, who could forget Kobe scoring 60 points in his final NBA game?

With countless game winners and clutch baskets, Bryant is one of the best players the league has ever seen. Bryant was 2008 MVP, Finals MVP in 2009 and 2010 and he played all 20 seasons of his NBA career with the Lakers, a record until Dirk Nowitzki broke it this past season with Dallas. Kobe is also the third all-time leading scorer in NBA history.

2. Magic Johnson

His real name is Earvin but people know him as Magic because, inside the basketball court, he was a magician with the ball. A 6-9 point guard, Magic entered the NBA together with his collegiate rival Larry Bird. Together, they would create the NBA’s greatest rivalry, both individually and with their teams. Magic’s Lakers and Bird’s Celtics were the dominant teams of the ’80s. Johnson was the anchor of “Showtime” an era in Los Angeles which won five NBA titles. Johnson was a three-time MVP and a three-time Finals MVP. He is the Lakers’ all-time leader in assists an assists per game. He is best remembered for hitting the game-winning and title-clinching running hook in Game 6 of the 1987 NBA Finals. He retired in 1991 after acquiring AIDS but came back to play for the 1992 US Dream Team that restored the Americans’ supremacy in the sport.

3. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

While Magic Johnson was the anchor of “Showtime”, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was the steady force behind it. Born as Lew Alcindor, the former college superstar and 1971 NBA champion from the Milwaukee Bucks arrived in Los Angeles late in his career. But while Kareem was already past his best years when he donned the purple and gold, he provided the young team with the needed presence in the middle and a consistent scorer during their 1980s title runs. Abdul-Jabbar owned the most unguardable shot in basketball, the skyhook and he used it to help the Lakers win so many games. With the Lakers, he was NBA MVP in 1980 and Finals MVP in 1985. He played until the age of 40 and retired as the league’s all-time leading scorer with a total of six MVP awards.

4. Wilt Chamberlain

Wilt Chamberlain was the most dominating big man in the history of the league. He is the guy who once scored 100 points in a single NBA game. Like Jabbar, Wilt the Stilt played his best years around the league and while he was still dominant when he arrived in Los Angeles, Chamberlain only won one NBA title with the Lakers and he was the Finals MVP during that victory. Despite playing just six seasons with Los Angeles, Chamberlain is the Lakers’ all-time leader in rebounds per game at 19.2 and field goal percentage at 60.5%. Chamberlain Chamberlain had a career average of 30.1 points per game and he was no doubt one of the all-time greats, not just in purple and gold, but in all of basketball.

5. Shaquille O’Neal

The Diesel was one among the great big men in the long history of the Los Angeles Lakers. From George Mikan to Wilt Chamberlain to Kareem-Abdul Jabbar, O’Neal would be the man in the middle for the Lakers’ three-peat champions from 2000-2002. Shaq is considered as the most physically dominating presence the league has ever seen and while his struggles at the foul line always hounded him, he was virtually unstoppable when the basket was in sight. Shaq was named Finals MVP in all three title wins although he did have plenty of help from Kobe Bryant. O’Neal’s Los Angeles averages included 27 points, 11.2 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game. All stats rank second all-time in the Lakers’ record books.

6. Jerry West

Jerry West was known as Mr. Clutch and hist 60-foot game-tying shot in game 3 of the 1970 NBA Finals against the New York Knicks is just one proof of that. West is the second all-time leading scorer in Lakers history behind Kobe Bryant. He played 14 seasons with the Lakers and averaged 27 points, 5.8 rebounds and 6.7 dimes per contest. West is also the silhouette on the NBA’s logo. He is also the only player to win Finals MVP while playing for the losing team, accomplishing the feat in 1969 where his Lakers lost in Game 7 to Bill Russell and the Boston Celtics. West played in a total of 9 NBA Finals but won just once.

7. George Mikan

At 6-10, the bespectacled George Mikan was one of the first dominant big men in the NBA. Mikan transformed basketball into the game of big men as he dominated the opposition with his rebounding, shot blocking and inside scoring. Before Kareem’s skyhook, Mikan had an ambidextrous shot that resembled a hook shot and it was unstoppable as he could shoot over smaller defenders. Mikan won a total of seven titles in the NBL, BAA, and NBA combined. The current rule on goal-tending used to be called the Mikan rule because of his shot-blocking skills. The shaded lane was also widened and the shot clock created because of the way he dominated the game.

8. Elgin Baylor

Elgin Baylor played all 14 seasons of his NBA career with the Los Angeles Lakers. Athletic and efficient, he retired as the Lakers’ all-time leader in rebounds and 4th in scoring. He was the #1 overall pick in the NBA’s 1958 draft and was an 11-time NBA All-Star and a 10-time member of the All-NBA team. He was named to the NBA’s 35-year anniversary team and one of the 50 greatest NBA players during the NBA’s 50th year. Baylor was an excellent scorer, a premier rebounder and he dazzled the fans with his hanging jumpers. For all his accolades and greatness, he never won an NBA title during his legendary career.

9. James Worthy

James Worthy was the Lakers’ #1 overall pick in 1982 out of North Carolina. Known as the Worthy Express, he was one of the best finishers the league has ever seen. Worthy’s trademark finish was the statue of liberty dunk and he was also one of the first players to utilize the finger roll as his main weapon. During the Lakers’ “Showtime Era”, he was Magic Johnson’s favorite receiver and the duo dazzled the Forum during the ’80s with their flashy fastbreak runs. Big Game James had the habit of coming up big when it mattered most and he helped the Lakers win a total of three NBA titles during the 80s. Worthy was the 1988 NBA Finals MVP.

10. Michael Cooper

While Magic was the passer, Worthy the finisher and Kareem the inside presence, Michael Cooper was the defensive stalwart for Showtime. Coop was a five-time All-NBA First team member and although he wasn’t as high profile as those three Lakers legends, he was equally important during their title runs. Cooper was a lockdown defender who could stop both guards and forwards. He was the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year winner in 1987 when the Lakers won the NBA title. After his retirement, Cooper coached in the WNBA, NBA D-League and is the only player to win a title in those three leagues whether as player or coach.

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