The Los Angeles Lakers are a franchise known for having some of the biggest stars in NBA history, with the likes of Kobe Bryant, Magic Johnson, Shaquille O’Neal and LeBron James amongst others. But the Lakers also wouldn’t have the number of championships they have without the contributions of some of basketball’s greatest role players such as Derek Fisher, Robert Horry and Michael Cooper.
Because their contributions came more recently, Fisher and Horry are brought up more often but what Cooper meant to the Showtime Lakers of the 1980s can not be understated. Cooper was an absolute defensive force, making eight All-Defensive Teams during the 80s, with five of those being First-Team selections. He was also the 1987 NBA Defensive Player of the Year and helped the Lakers win five NBA Championships.
Despite this, Cooper’s number 21 jersey does not hang in the rafters of the Crypto.com Arena, and Horry thinks this is wrong. With Lakers owner Jeanie Buss recently saying the franchise will retire LeBron James’ jersey when all is said and done, Horry discussed his belief that the Lakers should also retire Cooper’s via Aaron Abhishek of Fadeaway World:
“I base everything off Michael Cooper. You know, it is just so hard for me when you retire a guy’s number and you don’t retire Michael Cooper’s number. And it is just, to me, it don’t…nobody should go before him. You know, two-time Defensive Player of the Year, help win championships. He always guarded the people that Magic couldn’t.
“It’s just so many things that, you know, and that goes to show you have people in the league and NBA and across. They don’t appreciate defense unless you’re Ben Wallace or Dennis Rodman. And I just think that if you retire LeBron’s jersey, you gotta retire Michael Cooper’s ‘cause he’s just a Laker legend to me.”
While Cooper is undoubtedly a Lakers legend, the franchise has a rule that it has followed that a player must make the Hall of Fame before having their jersey retired. While Cooper was nominated to be part of the 2023 class, that also featured Pau Gasol, he was not selected.
Horry does make an interesting point about great defenders not always getting the recognition they deserve, and when it comes to lockdown perimeter defenders, Cooper is one of the best ever. But unfortunately, until he receives that Hall of Fame jacket, his jersey won’t be hanging in the rafters.
Robert Horry suggests ‘Two-Face’ statue for Lakers legend Kobe Bryant
Robert Horry has also given his thoughts on another huge upcoming moment for Lakers fans in the unveiling of the Kobe Bryant statue on February 2, 2024. Many have made their suggestions on what the statue should look like, and Horry had an interesting idea.
The former Lakers forward suggested the statue be a ‘Two-Face’ statue based on the famous Batman villain. In the idea, half of it would represent the younger Kobe who wore number 8 while the other half would represent the older Kobe who wore 24.