5. Lakers Face Chicago Bulls in 1991 Finals
The only trip to the NBA Finals that the Lakers made during the ’90s occurred in 1991, when they faced rising superstar Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls. The Lakers stole Game 1 from the Bulls in Chicago under the leadership of their star Magic Johnson, who scored 19 points, grabbed 10 rebounds, and dished out 11 assists. Unfortunately for the Lakers, their victory in Game 1 would be the their only win in the series, as the hungrier Bulls were itching for their first NBA title. Despite the fact the Lakers lost, this moment still stands out in this decade because they wouldn’t make the Finals again until the year 2000.
4. 1998 NBA All-Star Game (Kobe’s first)
In 1998, the Lakers had four all-stars: Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe Bryant, Eddie Jones, and Nick Van Exel. This was the first time in Laker history that they had four all-stars, and it was the first all-star selection for Kobe Bryant. Not to mention, the fact that the weekend’s events were being held in New York City set up a stage that was tailor made for Kobe Bryant. The hype of the game was built on Kobe vs. Jordan, as the league had felt that it was time to transition Kobe as the league’s future star. The Black Mamba didn’t disappoint, as he led the Western Conference in scoring with 18 points.
3. Lakers Hire Phil Jackson Summer Of 1999
By 1999, the Lakers had all the pieces that it took to contend from a roster standpoint, but still couldn’t get over the hump. After coming up short in two consecutive post-seasons, Jerry West made the move to sign legendary head coach Phil Jackson. Jackson had won six NBA titles in the city of Chicago with Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen with his triangle-offense. Many questioned whether or not the Lakers had the personnel to play effectively in Jackson’s system, but three championships later this move would be justified as the Lakers would become one of the dominant teams in the 2000s.
2. Summer 1996
In the middle of the ’90s the Lakers had reached a dead point. The roster had no superstar, and the team was in dire need of a player that would carry the legacy on with Magic Johnson officially calling it quits after making a brief return in the 1995-1996 season. So in the summer of 1996, Jerry West made one of the biggest moves in franchise history when he signed Shaquille O’Neal to a seven-year, $121-million dollar contract. West also made a master move when he traded Vlade Divac in the 1996 draft for a young guy by the name of Kobe Bryant. These moves solidified the Lakers as the team of the future, and officially brought “showtime” back to the city of Los Angeles.
1. Magic’s Return In 1992 All-Star Game
After taking a leave of absence from the game of basketball for some time (he was diagnosed with the HIV virus), Magic made a return to the big stage when he was voted as a starter in the 1992 NBA All-Star Game in Orlando. A moment like this revealed the joy that Magic Johnson brought to the game of basketball. He would win game MVP and get one more chance to go head-to-head with some of his long time rivals in Isiah Thomas and Michael Jordan.