The Los Angeles Lakers have been used to being at the top of the NBA since their very first days. Winner of 16 Championships over the past 72 years, they have always been obliged to stay competitive.
That could explain why some of their fans were so frustrated a couple of months ago when they protested outside of the Staples Center for not making the playoffs since 2013, and why they were so aggressive in their pursuit for All-Star players this summer.
The thing is, if you take a look at some of the players that have worn the Purple and Gold jersey, you’ll understand why their supporters want nothing but top-tier players on their roster.
They have arguably the most star-studded history ever, and these are all of the best to cross their path:
Point Guard: Magic Johnson
Magic Johnson’s career was cut short due to his disease, but he still managed to log the 5th most assists all-time, and holds the record for the highest assist-per-game average with 11.2 dimes a night.
More than that, Johnson was a walking highlight film and a playmaker we’ve never seen anything even close to before. He won 3 MVPs, 3 Finals MVPs, 5 Championships, led the league in dimes 4 times, twice in steals, and averaged double-digit assists for 9 straight seasons.
Shooting Guard: Kobe Bryant
Kobe Bryant is a polarizing player. Some love him, some hate him -- but his legacy with the Lakers goes way beyond stats, and that’s why Lakers fans consider him the greatest player to ever wear the Purple and Gold.
Bryant won 5 Championships, 1 MVP, 2 Finals MVPs, and 2 Scoring Titles, yet it was his tenacity and determination that made him stand out from the pack. He was a different breed of competitor, a guy that will always work harder than you, and he demanded the same from all of his teammates.
Small Forward: LeBron James
LeBron James hasn’t been around for so long, but he’s got a major shot at cementing his legacy now that he’s playing for the Lakers. If he’s able to lead him to a Championship, he’ll be back in the GOAT conversation despite his losing record in the Finals.
James is arguably one of the best three players in the history of the game. Durable, consistent, and efficient. He makes his teammates better, and having him around helps your team lure more talent to be in a better position to compete.
Power Forward: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar had already become a superstar in the league during his time with the Milwaukee Bucks. Still, it was when he joined the Los Angeles Lakers when he became one of the best to ever do it.
His presence in the post meant trouble for opposing defenses, but he was also a lockdown defender as well. He won 5 Championships with the Lakers and led the league in blocks 3 times. He embraced a different role to help the Showtime succeed, and is still the league’s all-time leading scorer with 38,387 points.
Center: Shaquille O’Neal
Shaquille O’Neal took the Lakers back to the top of the world. He made them Championship contenders, and they were the league’s driving force until they traded him away to the Miami Heat.
Shaq was skilled beyond words can describe, but people only talk about his superhuman strength. Thanks to him, the Lakers won 3 NBA Championships, and he also won 1 MVP, 3 Finals MVPs, and 1 Scoring Title.
Bench: Jerry West, Elgin Baylor, James Worthy, George Mikan, Wilt Chamberlain
The Lakers’ all-time bench is also one that’s worth noting, even if younger NBA fans may not know much about these legends of the game.
Jerry West was one of the first two-way superstars in this league. He could score 27 with 7 assists a night but was still a lock to make the All-Defensive team. He’s the only player to ever win the Finals MVP despite being on the losing team.
Long before LeBron James, people considered Elgin Baylor the best small forward ever. He was strong, physical, and a prolific scorer and rebounder. He made it to 10 All-NBA teams and 11 All-Stars.
James Worthy was the perfect complement for the Showtime Lakers. He was an efficient scorer that could also guard multiple positions and always came up huge in the clutch, and helped them win 3 NBA Championships, with 1 Finals MVP going his way.
George Mikan was the first Laker great. Back when they were still playing in Minneapolis, he was the league’s most dominant scorer, but only played for 7 seasons. Still, he won 5 Championships, 3 Scoring Titles, and led the league in boards once.
And you know you’re team is stacked when Wilt Chamberlain is coming off the bench. We’re talking about a guy that was so dominant that the league even had to change the rules to make it fairer for his rivals. He wasn’t at his best during his tenure with the Lakers, but still averaged 17.7 points and 19.2 rebounds, and helped them win a Championship at age 35.