With the NBA Playoffs nearing their conclusion and the NBA Finals near the finish line, I thought I’d take a look at each of the teams’ all-time starting lineups.
Highlighting the top players in each franchise’s history, the all-time lineup was created using players individual accolades as well as team success during each players’ stint. Beginning with this year’s non-playoff teams and finishing up with this season’s 16 postseason participants, here are the Los Angeles Lakers’ all-time starters.
Guard: Magic Johnson, 1979-91, 1996
One of the top point guards in NBA history, Magic made an immediate impact when he entered the league, being named to the All-Rookie Team and to the All-Star team, leading the Lakers to the 1980 NBA title while taking home Finals MVP honors.
A three-time NBA MVP, Johnson was named to 12 All-Star teams, winning All-Star MVP twice. He also led the league in assists four times and steals twice, making ten All-NBA squads, while winning two more Finals MVPs and five NBA titles.
Fifth on the NBA’s all-time assists chart, Magic’s No. 32 was retired by the Lakers following his career while also being inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2002.
Guard: Kobe Bryant, 1996-16
Starring for 20 seasons in Laker purple and gold, Bryant became one of the greatest players in NBA history, retiring as the third all-time leading scorer..
A 15-time All-NBA selection (11 First-Team, two Second-Team, two Third-Team) and 18-time All-Star, while also being named to 12 All-Defensive Teams (nine First-Team, three Second-Team).
Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal created one of the best tandems in NBA history in the early 2000s, winning NBA titles in 2000, 2001, and 2002. After O’Neal’s departure following a loss in the 2004 Finals, Bryant took over as the No. 1 option for the Lakers, winning two scoring titles and scoring 81 points in a game during the 2005-06 campaign.
Following a few down years for the Lakers, Bryant teamed up with Pau Gasol, leading the team to two NBA titles in 2009 and 2010, winning Finals MVP both times.
A four-time All-Star Game MVP, Slam Dunk Contest winner and 2008 NBA MVP, Kobe finished his career with a 60-point outburst in his final game against Utah, before his numbers 8 and 24 were both retired by the Lakers in 2017. Bryant now surely waits for his Hall of Fame enshrinement in 2020.
Forward: Elgin Baylor, 1958-71
Perhaps the most forgotten Laker legend, Elgin Baylor burst onto the scene to start his career, winning the 1958-59 NBA Rookie of the Year, while being named an All-Star, First-Team All-NBA and All-Star Game MVP, while leading the Lakers to the NBA Finals.
Baylor led Los Angeles to the NBA Finals eight times in his career, adding 11 All-Star appearances and 10 All-NBA First Team accolades to his name.
After his career, Baylor’s No. 22 jersey was retired by the Lakers. He was also named to the NBA’s 35th and 50th Anniversary Teams and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1977.
Forward: James Worthy, 1982-94
A key player for the “Showtime” Lakers of the 1980s, Worthy was named to the All-Rookie Team in 1983, while also being picked for seven All-Star teams (1986-92) and two All-NBA Third-Teams.
Worthy also helped lead the Lakers to three NBA titles in 1985, 1987 and 1988, picking up Finals MVP honors in 1986. After his career, Worthy was named to the NBA’s 50th Anniversary All-Time Team, was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2003 and had his No. 42 jersey retired by the Lakers.
Center: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, 1975-89
Known for his “skyhook” and trademark goggles, the NBA’s all-time leading scorer starred for 14 seasons in the Laker purple and gold.
A three-time NBA MVP with Los Angeles, Abdul-Jabbar led the team to five NBA titles, winning Finals MVP in 1985. Kareem was also a 13-time All-Star and 10-time All-NBA selection with the Lakers, while also being named to seven All-Defensive Teams and leading the league in blocks three times and rebounding during the 1975-76 season.
After one of the greatest careers in NBA history, Abdul-Jabbar was named to the NBA’s 50th Anniversary All-Time Team, inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1995 and had his No. 33 raised to the rafters of the Forum.