The Los Angeles Lakers have had an illustrious history filled with more superstars than just about any other team in the NBA. That level of success was on full display as 11 of the top-25 game changers, according to ESPN #NBArank, were members of Lakers at some point in their career, including Kobe Bryant, Magic Johnson, Wilt Chamberlain and Shaquille O’Neal.
Joining those four were Elgin Baylor, George Mikan, Phil Jackson, Pat Riley, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Steve Nash, with only Nash not being a Laker for some of the best years of his career. That list will grow to 12 this summer if rumors of LeBron James (ranked No. 2 behind Michael Jordan) potentially signing with the Lakers in free agency come to fruition.
Mikan ranked 25th, according to ESPN, with Baylor (23rd), Nash (21st), Jackson (19th), Riley (18th), O’Neal (17th), Bryant (12th), West (11th), Abdul-Jabbar (sixth), Chamberlain (fifth) and Johnson (third) ranking highest among the Lakers greats on the list.
Fans of the organization will almost surely take issue with Bryant being outside of the top-10, but in terms of changing the face of basketball that sounds about right considering that Bryant mainly took something we had seen from Jordan to its natural endpoint and got the closer to truly emulating MJ than anyone else who has tried.
O’Neal ranking so low seems a lot more egregious, considering he required multiple rule changes and forced teams to constantly employ a group of clumsy, underqualified centers just for their sheer size allowing them to not get toppled by O’Neal as easily.
Other than Shaq, most of the names on this list seem about right, with Johnson (who also ranked third in our Lakers Nation greatest Lakers rankings) being properly respected for perfecting the art of running a team, while Abdul-Jabbar and Chamberlain were honored for how completely unguardable they were in different ways.