The Los Angeles Lakers are the winningest franchise in NBA history if you take away Bill Russell’s 11 Championships in 13 years, proud owners of 16 Championships trailing the Boston Celtics by just 1.
Naturally, they’ve had some of the best players to ever lace them up en route to those 16 Championships, featuring a couple of dynasties like the Showtime era and the Kobe-Shaq dominant duo.
That being said, the bar is set pretty high when it comes to the kind of players that have the honor to be dressed in purple and gold, considering they’ve seen 6 of the league’s top-10 leading scorers in the history of the game wear their jersey.
So, who could ever take those legendary ballers down? Who could be even better than Kareem, Magic, Kobe, LeBron, Baylor, West, Shaq, Wilt? My best guess is nobody, but, what if we take them all together and build our very own perfect Laker?
Basketball IQ – LeBron James & Magic Johnson
LeBron James is one of the smartest players ever, and even though he’s not exactly ‘coachable’, he’s a bit of a string-puller of his own and an extension of the coach on the court. Johnson, on the other hand, is the best playmaker in the history of the game. He could find and create passing lanes where no one else could. Both thrive off making their teammates better and help them find their rhythm.
Discipline – Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
Throughout his entire career, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar never averaged more than 3.5 personal fouls despite having to guard and contain some truly physical specimens. He was never ejected out of a game and only piled up 29 technical fouls despite being in the league for 19 seasons. He never got called for a flagrant foul either.
Mentality – Kobe Bryant
The Mamba Mentality is a key element young ballers need to develop in order to thrive on a league stacked with competitors, winners and the best basketball players in the world. Do you want to win? Then you better grind. You have to work harder than everyone else, you have to want it more than everyone else, you have to let everybody know that you’re willing to go the extra mile and do more than anybody to achieve greatness. That’s Kobe’s legacy.
Defense – Kobe Bryant & Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
If you want a top-tier rim protector, you just need to call Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who led the league in blocks in 4 different seasons. With 3,189 career blocks, Kareem ranks 3rd in the history of the league for most swats ever, trailing just Olajuwon and Mutombo. Kobe, on the other hand, made it to 12 All-Defense teams, averaged 1.4 steals per game throughout his career and was a lockdown defender when checking the best scorers in the league.
Hustle – Kobe Bryant
This one is closely tied with the Mamba Mentality. Perhaps, you can outplay Kobe, maybe you can get the best of him a couple of times, but you’re never going to outwork him. Kobe was willing to put his body on the line even while up 20 points. He’s going to ball his heart out night in and night out or else he’s not going to show up at all. He’s arguably the most passionate competitor and player this game has ever seen.
Handles – Magic Johnson
Magic Johnson is the greatest point guard in the history of the NBA. His handles were just slick and sick, his passes were as crafty as you could imagine. He was a walking highlight reel. He has the highest assists per game average ever with 11.2 dimes a night for his career, led the league in assists 4 times, and was just a master of the dribble even sitting at 6’9’’. He was the ultimate point forward and could play and guard one through five with great ease.
Athleticism – Wilt Chamberlain
There’s not enough evidence in the world to convince him that Wilt Chamberlain was, in fact, a human being. Wilt’s athleticism was off the charts. Sitting at 7’1’’, he ran track, played volleyball, dominated basketball and even liked jumping between rooftops from time to time. He was able to dunk on 12-foot rims (NBA rims are 10 feet high), and he had a 48 inch vertical, the highest ever.
Shooting – Kobe Bryant
Even though the Los Angeles Lakers have had some outstanding shooters, nobody mastered the art of the fadeaway and mid-range game like Kobe Bryant did. He’s the team’s all-time leading scorer with 33,643, a guy that could efficiently score from all three levels even while heavily guarded. Perhaps he wasn’t Stephen Curry from beyond the arc, but boy, he could shoot.
Court Vision – Magic Johnson & LeBron James
This one’s closely tied with their basketball IQ, as both Magic Johnson and LeBron James have some of the best court visions in the history of the game. Magic could set his teammates up even if they were trailing and he was down on the floor, and LeBron always seems to know where all of his teammates are supposed to be even if he’s not actually looking at them. With this kind of court vision, this player could average 13 dimes a game.
Size – Shaquille O’Neal & Wilt Chamberlain
Shaquille O’Neal was, by far, the most dominant big man in the history of the league. Sitting at 325 pounds, there was just no way to contain him below the rim. Also, him being 7’1’’ just like Wilt Chamberlain, a guy of this size is not to be stopped when driving through the lane. They were both God-given physical specimens, and the most impressive thing is they didn’t live off just bully-balling, but they were also really skilled.
Speed – LeBron James
LeBron James is one of the fastest players in the league even at 34-years old. When he takes off, there’s just not catching up with him if he decides to go coast-to-coast. Also, that’s one of the main reasons why he’s so great at chase-down blocks. LeBron has quite a quick first step, and he can change directions in no time despite being so heavy and strong. He’s one of the best athletes in the history of sports.
Clutch – Kobe Bryant
Even though his haters may argue he didn’t deliver in the clutch, they couldn’t be farther from the actual truth. Kobe’s winning mentality was key down the stretch, and he’s accountable for as much as 26 game-winning shots, which is the most in the history of the league, sitting ahead of Michael Jordan, Dirk Nowitzki, LeBron James, Allen Iverson, Ray Allen, Larry Bird, Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony, and Vince Carter.
Footwork – Kobe Bryant
And naturally, him being a master at taking defenders to school in the low post, Kobe’s footwork is the lone missing piece for our perfect Laker. Kobe could shake defenders off and create a lot of separation in the blink of an eye to hit a beautiful turnaround fadeaway shot over them, or he could just find a tiny gap of space to finish an acrobatic layup with either hand. He’s got one of the best footwork ever for a shooting guard.