A hall-of-fame big man and the Lakers go together like Craig Sager and an excessively colorful suit (corny, I know, but I’m trying to avoid clichés people!). Every Lakers championship team has had at least an all-star big man, if not one that was bound for the hall of fame. That’s what makes it so hard to determine the best of all of the Laker bigs. Is it George Mikan, the OBG (Original Big Guy)? Or Wilt Chamberlain, who helped bring the first title to LA? Is it Shaquille O’Neal, who re-defined the center position and nearly rewrote the NBA rulebook? No, while all of the aforementioned big men have been above and beyond amazing, none of them come close to what Kareem Abdul-Jabbar brought to the table for the Lake Show.
Kareem came to LA already a celebrity in his own right; he was a three-time MVP, one-time NBA champion and finals MVP prior to the trade that sent Walt Wesley, Elmore Smith, Brian Winters, Dave Meyers and Junior Bridgeman to the Bucks in exchange for the 7’2 giant. They couldn’t have made a better deal, Kareem returned to the City of Angels, as he had played his college ball at UCLA and the Lakers found a big man to supplant the hole left by the departure of The Big Dipper a few years prior. Kareem began his career with Los Angeles with a hot start, winning his first of three MVP awards that he would go on to register with Los Angeles during his first season with the team. Although he couldn’t get the Lakers over the hump from very good team to championship team, he knew that day would come, and it finally did in the 1979 draft when the Lakers selected Magic Johnson #1 overall. Although he had to wait four years before the arrival of Magic, it proved to be well worth his time, as the duo would go on to dominate throughout the 80’s winning five titles in eight finals appearances.
To this day, Kareem remains the league’s all-time leading scorer with over 38 thousand points scored and is arguably the greatest center of all-time. Beginning in 2005, Kareem became a special assistant coach for the Los Angeles Lakers, devoting his time to the progression of young center Andrew Bynum, who, with the right training, could end up as the next great Laker center. httpvhd://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nM2HIUR15s0
Next: Bringing the Magic