The Lakers are a Los Angeles based team that plays as part of the NBA’s Western Conference Pacific Division. They are one of the National Basketball Associations’ most successful teams and have won a staggering 15 championships.
Known affectionately by fans as Lakers Nation, the franchise has seen some of the most iconic and influential players of all time wearing the purple and gold jersey.
Shaquille O’Neal may now be retired but his name is forever synonymous with his successful time at the Lakers between 1996-2004 and he is considered to be one of the greatest basketball players of all time. During his time with the Lakers, O’Neal was instrumental in helping the team win three consecutive championships and helped take them to the 2004 NBA Finals. O’Neal was never a player to shy away from controversy and his dramatic behavior both on and off-court have kept him a firm fan favorite over the years.
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Despite being suspended during his time with the Lakers for shoving Dennis Rodman, O’Neal stuck to his guns, saying that Rodman had been riling him up and that ‘It’s one thing to talk tough but another to be tough.’ As well as being one of the game’s greatest stars, Shaquille O’Neal has stayed a star even after his retirement from the game. He released a rap album and his dynamic persona has led him to be a frequent face on television as a sports analyst for TNT.
Another key team member for the Lakers during this time and a player who was then only a teenager star but has now reach superstar status was, of course, the legendary Kobe Bryant. Kobe Bryant is probably the Laker’s most influential and iconic player. He spent his entire career spanning twenty seasons as a Laker and started with the NBA straight out of high school. His award accolades include an Olympic gold medal, appearances as an All-Star 18 times and even an Oscar for his short film about the game, Dear Basketball.
As two such incredible players with such competitive personalities, Bryant and O’Neal would often butt heads. However, despite any feuding the two still managing to help win the championship for the Lakers three times in a row between 2000-2002.
In 2003, Bryant was consistently seeing wins with the Lakers. However, his personal life suffered greatly when he was charged with assault. Although the charges were never substantiated, Bryant felt the accusations had tarnished his reputation. This led him to his self-styled nickname – Black Mamba. Worried that his professional name was now tainted forever, Bryant felt an alter ego would help to pull him out of the dark place he was in and give him and fans a way to separate his personal life from what was going on when he was on the court. Black Mamba became a huge part of Bryant’s brand later partnering with Nike and through it, Bryant created the Mamba League and sports academy to give underprivileged children the opportunity to play the sport. Despite his premature death, it is undoubtedly that Bryant’s legacy will live on and inspire generations to come.
Another name famous for his time with Lakers is, of course, Magic Johnson. Real name Earvin Johnson Jr, Magic played as a point guard for the Lakers for a successful thirteen seasons. In 1996, Johnson was honored as one of the 50 greatest NBA players of all time and has twice been inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame. In 1991, Johnson released a statement confirming his HIV positive status. Since retiring from the game, he has used his platform to advocate for AIDS prevention and to campaign for more awareness of heterosexuals contracting the disease, for which he has been widely lauded and praised. Not just a great player, Johnson’s outstanding entrepreneurial skills have seen him become a part-owner of the Lakers for a number of years during the late 2000s.
A relative newcomer to the Lakers but never the less still another NBA heavyweight and cultural icon is LeBron James. A stalwart of the game, LeBron is often compared to another basketball legend – Michael Jordan – and has played for the Lakers since 2018. Like Bryant, LeBron’s star abilities on the court were recognized early on and he was touted early in his career as one the ‘best high school basketball players in America’. LeBron currently sits in third place on the all-time scoring list, with Kobe Bryant coming in close behind him in fourth place.
But it isn’t just modern-day players who have become influential throughout the world as part of their time playing for the Lakers. Back in the 60s and 70s, the Lakers were still going strong as one of the top teams in the NBA.
Wilt Chamberlain played for the Lakers from 1968-1973 and was quite literally a giant among men. He changed the game for what a basketball player could physically look like standing at an incredible 7 ft 1 tall. By the time he played for the Lakers, Chamberlain was weighing in at 300 pounds and was a force to be reckoned with. Holding multiple MVP titles, All-Star game appearances and now inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame, Chamberlain also still holds the title as the only player ever to score 100 points in a single game for the NBA.
Another contemporary of Chamberlains is Jerry West, who wore the Lakers jersey as a player during the sixties and into the mid-seventies. He would later become a coach for the team from 1976-1979. West still holds the record for the highest points per game average and is a Basketball Hall of Famer.
Whatever your team, it can’t be denied that the Lakers have a history of bringing legends to the court and some of the most famous and iconic names in the game have at one time or another been part of the Lakers Nation. Place your bets at Oddspedia.com for some of the most user-friendly and fun ways to support this great team.