Top 5 Lakers of all-time: Did Kobe make the cut?

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Kobe and ShaqThe Los Angeles Lakers are arguably one of the most elite franchises in professional sports.  With 16 NBA Championships dating back to their days in Minneapolis, the Lakers have had a wealth of talented stars that have dazzled the hardwood and helped make the NBA what it is today.  Here are the Top 5 Lakers of all-time.

1.       Magic Johnson:  At 6’9, Earvin “Magic” Johnson redefined the position of point guard.  His cat-like instincts and ability find the open man often made it appear as if he had eyes in the back of his head while leaving defenders looking foolish.  Magic spent all 13 seasons of his NBA career with the Lakers before retiring prematurely after testing positive for HIV.  During his career, Magic scored over 17,000 points but even more impressively finished with over 10,000 assist.  That equates to directly contributing to over 37,000 points during his abbreviated NBA career. Johnson led the Lakers to five NBA championships in a nine-year span earning league MVP honors as well as Finals’ MVP three times a piece. 

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 2.       Shaquille O’Neal:  At 7’1 and a generous 325 lbs, Shaq was arguably to most opposing figure to ever play professional basketball.  O’Neal joined the Lakers after four years with the Orlando Magic.  During his eight seasons in L.A., Shaq averaged 27 points and just under 12 rebounds a game.  He led the Lakers to four final appearances in five years with three straight titles between the 1999-2002 seasons.  He was named Finals MVP in each of the championship years and NBA MVP in the 1999-00 season.  Although Shaq would go on to play with four more NBA teams and win a 4th championship with the Miami Heat, without a doubt, the most productive stint of his career came in L.A.

3.       George Mikan:  The NBA calls George Mikan it first “superstar,” so what would a Top 5 Lakers’ list be without him?  Mikan was 6’10 and one of basketballs’ original big men.  He joined the Lakers of the then Basketball Association of America back in 1948 when they were still in Minneapolis.  In seven short professional seasons Mikan amassed over 10,000 points as he led the Lakers to five championships.  Rebounds were not recorded in the NBA until the 1973-74 season but rest assure that Mikan grabbed plenty.

 4.       Kareem Abdul-Jabbar:  At 7’2, Kareem was by far one of the most dominant players of his time.  Before joining the Lakers in the 1975-76 season, Jabbar spent six years with the Milwaukee Bucks.  Known for his unstoppable “skyhook” and trademark goggles, Kareem would spend 14 years with the Lakers before retiring in 1989.  He won three league MVP honors with L.A. while helping them win five NBA championships.  When it was all said and done, Abdul-Jabbar had amassed an NBA record 38,386 points in 20 seasons.  That’s one record that just may never be broken.

 5.      Kobe BryantOf all the players that have entered the NBA directly out of high school, Kobe Bryant is without a doubt the most successful.    Originally drafted by the Charlotte Hornets in 1996, Kobe was subsequently traded to the Lakers.  In 15 NBA seasons, Kobe has accumulated over 28,000 points averaging just over 25 points a game.  With Shaquille O’Neal at his side, Kobe helped the Lakers win three consecutive championships in the early 2000’s.  He would go on to lead the Lakers to two more without O’Neal later in the decade.  Bryant has been named the NBA MVP once, in the 2007-08 season and NBA Finals MVP twice.   Although his career still hangs in the balance, it is doubtful that he will ever be higher than the 5th greatest Laker of all-time.

Noticeably absent from this list are Laker greats Jerry West, Elgin Baylor and Wilt Chamberlain.  Despite West being the NBA logo and Wilt’s profound dominance during his era, these three only combined for one title with the Lakers in 1972.

 Aaron Moon is the CEO and a Featured Journalist for Shatter The Backboard. An active duty Navy Chief and avid writer, Aaron is a longtime Bulls’ fan who enjoys the history of the NBA. You can contact Aaron on Facebook or follow him on Twitter @DA_Bear_Truth.

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70 Responses to Top 5 Lakers of all-time: Did Kobe make the cut?

  1. david says:

    I’d rank Jabbar higher and I think he only won 2 MVP’s. Mikan had no competition and the Minneapolis Lakers were like the Celtics of the 50’s, they were far deeper than anyone else with much more length. Kobe at 5th is about right, West is better statistically and made it to more finals with Baylor and less depth to work with, but I think he deserves a nod along with Bryant at 5th. Shaq at 2nd? Yeah. Magic is head above heels better than anyone who has ever played in LA and is the greatest to play the sport as well.

  2. tyrone says:

    I would rank Kobe Bryant at 2nd.Mikan at 3rd because he got 5 rims in severn years.Jabbar at 4th and shag 5th,if we are going to look at stats.Magic Johnson is the greatest Laker of all times.(Maybe the greatest player of all time)PS.Micheal Jordan should be the NBA Logo

  3. John Tsirigotis says:

    BS. I would not have Mikan on this list, and put Kobe ahead of Kareem and Shaq.
    My list:
    1) Magic Johnson
    2) Kobe Bryant
    3) Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
    4) Elgin Baylor
    5) Shaquille O’Neal

    • Jeanne says:

      Elgin Baylor was pure magic and he and Jerry West played as well together as Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippin. Awesome to watch.

    • mike says:

      This list is right on! Been following the Lakers since Magics’ rookie season.

      • Lou says:

        I don,t think Shaq would never won a title with the lakers without Kobe by his side. I only have top three for the Lakers and Shaq is nowhere near.
        For the NBA LOGO without any doubt is Michael.

    • Billy Bob says:

      Kobe Bryant should not be number 2 maybe #6, If it wasn’t for Ron Artest and an injured Kevin Garnett, the Celtics would have beaten the Lakers three Years in a row.

  4. what a shitty modern list with no historical insight nor respect


    Elgin Baylor & Jerry West are EASILY over him

    Goodrich, Worth, Selvy are on par at the least

    read some damn books junior

  5. Ken Stewart says:

    Anybody who doesn’t have Jerry West in the top 5 doesn’t know basketball! In fact, he could arguably be ranked #1, not just for his play on the court, but his management skills as well and what he contributed to the Lakers organization after his playing days were over. After all, this is the guy who discovered Kobe!

    Furthermore, he carried the Lakers on his back to something like 9 NBA finals appearances. The other Laker greats like Johnson, Jabbar, Kobe, and Shaq never had to do that consistently year in and year out like West did.

    I think my top 5 would be West, Johnson, Kareem, Baylor, and Kobe…Shaq and Mikan would tie for 6th…

  6. James Haser says:

    You omitted the greatest Laker of them all – Chick Hearn. Put Jerry West in place of the ultra lazy Shaq.

  7. jay walker says:

    My Top 5

    1 Magic – the greatest point guard ever! 2 . Kareem Abdul-Jabbar -skyhook king. 3 Wilt the stilt . 4 SHAQ diesel! 5 Kobe Bryant

  8. jim parkins says:

    I can still remmber watching m0kan in mpls in 1953 good old minnapolis lakers

  9. martin smith says:

    magic,kareem,kobe,shaq and west mikan,worthy,and wilt 6 a b and c

  10. brady says:

    Aaron don’t quit your day job. Shaq should not even be on this list. You ARE an idiot

  11. TOM says:

    come on people, does it really matter?…..its the freaking lakers!

  12. nesz tidoy says:

    My 5 greatest Lakers….

    1) Magic
    2) Kobe
    3) Jabbar, Wilt
    4) Jerry West,Shaq
    5) Oscar, Worthy

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  15. KOB says:

    Kobe should win the MVP award this year. Still putting up monster numbers with a torn ligament in his wrist. Baller.

  16. Curtis Raynor says:

    I loved magic growing up but back then the game wasn’t as intense. I didn’t like Kobe and Shaq together but later Kobe proved to be the number one Laker and the best player ever!!!

    • Blackice16 says:

      Hold on Curtis Raynor “back then the game wasn’t as intense”? GTFOH! The way fouls are called today is a direct reflection of just how truly intense the game USED to be. You can look in a “star” players direction while on defense and get a technical these days (sarcasm)! The guys who played during Magic’s era played for the ring and not the “bling” like a lot of these “stars” do today. Magic made his teammates better. He made guys like Byron Scott and Vlade Divac all-stars. Talent and rings aside Kobe has been all about himself. When things go bad he blames others. A leader (Magic, West, Jabbar) would never do that. Top five okay but number three at best behind Magic and Jabbar, and then Shaq and Worthy. That’s if it’s based on stats AND rings.

  17. SeayaLAKERON says:

    1) Kareem
    2) Magic
    3) Kobe
    4) Shaq
    5) Worthy

  18. Chris Terrence says:

    Yikes. You should do a little more homework. 1. Magic or Jerry West 2. Magic or Jerry West, 3. Kareem Abdul Jabbar, 4. Elgin Baylor, 5. Wilt Chamberlin- None of these guys were anywhere near as selfish as Kobe, and that a big factor. Michael Cooper an honorable mention for his great defense. And, of course, major props for Chick

  19. The Dude says:

    Sorry but, besides giving it his all in those gut wrenching losses vs Boston (I remember watching the last one in 69′ – I was 9), without Mr. Clutch there is no Kobe, Shaq, Magic (ok, Buss helped), Worthy, Fisher, Scott, Thompson . . .

    West is still the greatest Laker.

    1) West
    2) Magic (The Amadeus of Basketball)
    3) Kareem (Magic made Kareem better)
    4) Kobe (before it’s over, he’ll have his six rings)
    5) Mikan (If those old Championships count for Boston, then they also count for the Lakers)
    6) T – Shaq/Wilt

  20. Tom says:

    Jerry West was the greatest clutch scorer of his generation and one of the best ever. He is the logo for a reason… over Oscar, Wilt, and Russell. Can we also include his building of the showtime Lakers as GM? Judging greatest by titles won is often misleading and unfair. West’s teams were not that deep until Wilt arrived and he had the Celtic dynasty to deal with. Kareem trumps Shaq as he was the more complete center and the greatest offensive force of all time. Mikan deserves recognition but not a 1-5 rating. My five:

    1. Johnson
    2. Abdul-Jabbar
    3. West
    4. Bryant
    5. O’Neal

    Bryant’s over Shaq as he surpassed O’Neal’s titles and became a dominant force in the league. This is tough, but what about a top 5 five Celtics list?

  21. dan says:

    magic west baylor wilt kareem shaq been a laker fan since 1969 i just don’t get the kobe thing not a team player if he would have played with magic he would have sat on the bench

  22. kabong says:

    Is English this writer’s first language?

  23. Jordan says:

    Theres no way you can put Shaq before Kobe.  Even Aaron Moon should know that.  Shaq wasnt even drafted to the Lakers and he demanded a trade out of LA and became a journey man.
    1. Magic
    2. Kobe (#1 when he retires.. he has all the all-time laker records plus as many rings as any Laker)
    3. Jerry West
    4. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
    5. Elgin Baylor
    Hoorable Mention (George Mikan, James Worthy, Shaq)

  24. Java94 says:

    i know West has to be in there, Baylor maybe maybe not but West DEFINITELY

  25. p2day says:

    Seriously, no Jerry West?? He is the Lakers!

  26. Kpterrell says:

    Jerry West is the greatest Laker, Magic, Kareem and then Wilt.

  27. JomoDaMusicMan says:

    Magic, Kareem, Shag. Kobe and tied for #5 West & Baylor

  28. Nailheaded says:

    Well everybody has their opinions, and Yours are all WRONG!!!!!!
     For You to leave off Jerry West, who was so Great He’s the league
    friggin logo………my opinion, your an idiot….go back to covering girls sports

  29. Mgnunu says:

    whomever wrote this blog or article is an idiot

  30. Goodwinivan0 says:

    No one under 50 years old or did not see Baylor, West, Wilt or Mikan don the Laker blue(purple) and gold is qualified to rate the greatest in the franchises history

  31. HistoricDave says:

    The author rests his list on number of championships, and not pure talent or importance to team.  If you go by those criteria:

    1.  West
    2.  Magic
    3. Chamberlin
    4. Jabaar
    5. Kobe
    6. Shaq
    7. Baylor
    8. Mikan
    9. Worthy
    10. Goodrich

  32. Dude says:

    I go by only Lakers for the most and ending their career as a Laker:
    1) Magic
    2) Kobe
    3) Jabbar
    4) West
    5) Mikan

  33. Shane Kruger says:

    Writer has put his all efforts so as to get the maximum benefits to the reader:)

  34. Shane Kruger says:

    Best work and god stuff:)

  35. Bill c. says:



  36. davoyz says:

    George Mikan is overrated, he would not have played well against today’s athletes. They should have included Jerry West, who would have dominated with his scoring ability, even in today’s game.

  37. JeromeMJ says:

    You are an imbecile to leave out Jerry West and put Kobe the guy who makes his team worse at 5. And what happened to Wilt and Elgin. Kobe should not even make the top 10 because you also have Robert Horry with 7 rings and more clutch shots and James Worthy.
    You need to watch the Lakers a little before you open your mouth.

  38. Rex says:

    Top 5:
    1) Bas Ketballis
    2) Asport Forhomos
    3) Andwithout Adoubt
    4) Thelakers Arethe
    5) Biggesthomos Ofall

  39. You stated in your article, “Rebounds were not recorded in the NBA until the 1973-74 season but rest assure that Mikan grabbed plenty.” This is incorrect. Rebounds have been an official NBA stat since the 1950-51 season. That’s why we have all those Chamberlain/Russell rebounding records from the ’60’s. It was actually Blocked Shots that were introduced in ’73-’74.

  40. lawrence anderson says:

    Top 5 Lakers of all-times should not be defined by the number of Championship won by the their prime time player? West, & Wilt sholud be in the top 5

  41. no fool here says:

    This is a joke.
    Here is a real list
    1 Magic
    2 Kareem
    3 Jerry
    4 Kobe
    5 Elgin
    Shaq is only a court jester compared to these other men. Put him on the list for the celtics

  42. matthew says:

    so…because kobe has more rings than wilt chamberlain, kobe is better?
    i guess that means that trent dilfer is a better quarterback than dan marino.

  43. Kevin perry says:

    This whole website is a joke Kobe bryant should at least 2 if not one. 5 rings, 7 finals appeareances, more regular season and playoff points of any Laker(Kareem had some of his points with the bucks). 3 time allstar mvp 2 time finals mvp, 3 time scoring champion, etc etc. this list is a major joke, especially shaq over kobe lmao. goodbye

  44. dAVE says:

    Who made this list??? can anyone just make up a list that sucks?? Kareem was unstoppable, no way is he behind Shaq.
    Kobe scored 42 points and zero assists and 1 rebound. great offensive player, lousy team mate.. Chris webber had it right by position. center- kareem, Pforward- james Worthy, sforward- elgin baylor, Point guard- magic, shooting guard- Jerry west. end of story..

  45. Rocketmanjim says:

    Well, the question is sort of impossible from the start, because so many of the ALL TIME greatest (from any team) were Lakers (at least at some point in their careers). So, you’d really need 10 slots to make the list meaningful (they have 17 Hall of Famers, for Chrissake!) Players like Elgin Baylor, James Worthy, and Karl Malone (yes, he was a Laker, too, and scored more career points than Jordan — look it up if you don’t believe me), who would be one the top 5 of almost any other franchise just don’t fit the rarefied air of a Lakers top 5. So, it’s a hard call. But, really, the list as given above is GRAVELY inadequate. Jerry West not on it? Huh? And no Wilt….?! Give me a break! Chamberlain was a demigod: yeah, we all know about the 100 point game, but consider some other stats, such as the 1.6 fouls per game (that’s playing against Kareem, Russell, and Willis Reed!), the 50 ppg season, 20 rebounds per game season, or the season he averaged OVER 48 minutes a game (Wilt NEVER rested, and played overtime, too). Compare that to today’s tycoon athletes like Kobe (who recently said he refused to take charges). The concept of rating the individual players by how many championships they won also seems at least partly flawed since it depends on so many extraneous factors (quality of teammates & coaching, toughness of finals opponent in a particular year, etc.) So, anyway, without further ado, here is my own (quite debatable) Lakers Top 5:

    1) Magic (the name says it all — I won’t even begin).
    2) Kareem (could make a case for best NBA player ever)
    3) Wilt (see above)
    4) Jerry West (athletically not as freakish as Kobe or Wilt, but a legend in his own time who shone in an era — and on a team — of immortals. Fave fact: won the NBA Finals MVP as member of the losing team. Career Laker, which should count for a lot on this list).
    5) Kobe (yes, he’s extraordinary; also the cumulative career service to a single franchise stands out in this era).

    “6” Mikan (pre-eminent player of his era — the shot clock was invented because other teams tried to just keep him from touching it! But foreshortened career and weaker opposition detract ever so slightly from legacy)
    “7” Shaq (a [phenom, certainly, but wasn’t going to put 3 centers on my list, and Shaq pulls up just shy of the giants above).
    8) Karl Malone (again, by the career stats, you could claim he should be 2 or 3 on this list; but he was “really” a Utah Jazz guy, wasn’t he? Shame, cuz the career rocks, but he had less charisma than Dick Cheney, so never got the kudos).
    9) Elgin Baylor (would be on the top 5 of ANY other franchise!)
    10) Worthy (a hell of a lot of points, but Zsa Zsa Gabor could have scored some of those, with Magic’s pinpoint and to-the-nano-second delivery. Think he’d be a Hall of Famer if he’d played for the Clippers?)
    And what about Dennis Rodman…..? (OK, just kidding)

  46. TrueHoopsFan says:

    This list is garbage…Shaq shouldnt be so high…1) Magic 2) Kobe 3) Kareem 4) West 5) …maybe Shaq

  47. Sappy says:

    1 Magic
    2 Kobe
    3 shaq
    4 wilt
    5 Kereem
    6 West
    7 Baylor
    8 Mikan
    9 Worthy
    10 Goodrich

  48. Just do it says:

    Kobe’s a pedophile… he needs to fade away into the night, not be elevated to hero status – 5 is generous.

  49. jim says:

    You are nuts. Wilt and west should be on list. Leave off baby huey shak. Wilt would have eaten him for lunch. I never saw Mikan. I would have put West ahead.

  50. rob b says:

    My top five:
    3.kareem AJ
    4.Jerry West
    5 .Elgin Baylor

    Shaq is a journeyman he was never a true Laker .

  51. Esther says:

    Tired of another championship = greatness talk.

  52. hungestout says:

    knew the list was a joke as soon as I saw mikan over kobe. id let people switch the order between kobe,magic,kareem but anything else as the top 3 is not to be taken seriously.

  53. John says:

    whover made this list is a moron, Kobe should be number and there is never and should never be any question about it

  54. jhomie316 says:

    1) Magic 2) Kareem 3) Kobe 4) Shaq 5) West

  55. Alday says:

    Here is my list:
    1.Luke Walton
    2.Mark Madson
    3.ronnie turiaf
    4.Orlando woolridge
    5.michael thompson

    This is about as accurate as moons list

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