As we head into the next Los Angeles Lakers season, and a new era in Lakers basketball, the staff here at Lakers Nation has decided to take a look back and rank the 10 greatest Lakers of all-time.
The staff put together a list of the most significant figures in franchise history based on accolades, achievements and statistics. While there were many deserving candidates, the group was ultimately narrowed down to 10.
The rankings were determined by solely focusing on each individual’s accomplishments with the Lakers. Without further ado, here’s selection no. 1.
Seasons with Lakers: 34
Accolades: 10x NBA Champion, 1786-926 record in the regular season (.659 winning percentage), 273-160 record in the playoffs (.630 winning percentage), Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame (Class of 2010), Star on Hollywood Walk of Fame
Jerry Buss purchased the Lakers franchise in 1979 for $16 million — the largest sports transaction ever at the time — and the rest was history.
The new Los Angeles owner immediately transformed the team into a Hollywood spectacle. He introduced the first dance team in NBA history — the Laker Girls — and created an environment where fans can enjoy both sports and entertainment at the same time.
Dr. Buss envisioned a new style of Lakers basketball and encouraged the team to play up-tempo. This led to the birth of the ‘Showtime’ era, where hall-of-famers Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and James Worthy played a unique and exciting brand of basketball coached by Pat Riley that often consisted of fast breaks and memorable moments.
The Lakers soon became the hottest ticket in town when many celebrities began attending games. The attention put a positive spotlight on the team, and as a result, fans from all over the world began following them.
In 1980, Dr. Buss won his first of 10 championships as owner of the Lakers when the team defeated the Philadelphia 76ers in six games in the NBA Finals thanks to Magic Johnson’s legendary performance.
He would add four more titles during the 1980s, with the Lakers defeating the rival Boston Celtics twice during that timeframe, and saw his team appear in eight total NBA Finals over the decade.
During the late-1990s, Los Angeles ushered in a new era of dominance with Phil Jackson, Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal. The trio won three consecutive titles from 2000-02 and put the Lakers back on the map as the most prominent team in the league.
From 2009-10, Dr. Buss tallied his final two championships back-to-back and reached the NBA Finals for an unprecedented 16th time during the latter year.
Dr. Buss was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2006, one of his many accolades. In 2010, he was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame for his accomplishments over three decades that solidified himself as one of the best owners in professional sports history.
In 2013, Dr. Buss passed away at the age of 80. While at the helm, Los Angeles only missed the postseason twice under his leadership over a stretch that spans three decades. His daughter, Jeanie, has since taken control as controlling owner and president of the franchise.
Dr. Buss will always be remembered for his strong guidance and innovative thinking that turned the Lakers into the giant international brand they are today. His willingness to win at all costs helped establish the franchise as one of the most successful in the history of sports.
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