This post was originally posted at The New Democrat on Blogger
You could make a very good case that both Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Earvin Johnson are among the best basketball players of all time. Kareem played most of his career for the Lakers and Magic, his whole career. That, alone, puts them in a tie for greatest Los Angeles Laker of all time. Then, for 3, 4 and five there are plenty of other great Lakers to choose from.
For the rest of the list, I would start with Big Game James Worthy who was a franchise caliber player in the prime of his career. He would have been the best player on almost every other team in the NBA. He played with the Lakers for nine seasons with Magic and seven seasons with Kareem. He almost won games 6 and 7 against the Detroit Pistons in the 1988 NBA Finals on his own and was the MVP of that Finals.
So I would go with Kareem and Magic at one without being sure who’s one and who’s two and then I go to Big Game James at three. Then I’m looking at Jerry West at four and then Kobe Bryant, Jerry West or Elgin Baylor at five. Shaquille O’Neal is not on my list because after he played half of his career with the Lakers, it went almost completely downhill. He wasn’t even the best Laker of his era. He dominated, the 2000s, a very weak era for NBA big men. Shaq has some big strikes against him.
Jerry West and Kobe Bryant finish off my list. Jerry’s not only in the top five or ten players of all time but perhaps the best NBA general manager of all time. He built the Showtime Lakers of the 1980s. So I would put him at four and then go to Kobe Bryant, the best all around NBA player post Michael Jordan. He was the best player since Michael retired up until Lebron James arrived in Miami to play for the Heat. Oh, by the way, Kobe’s won five NBA Finals as well and, without the injuries late in his career, he’s perhaps still the best player in the NBA right now.