In a new ESPN list of the greatest all-time NBA players, six players who have worn the uniform of the Los Angeles Lakers were recognized among the top 10 players ever.
- Michael Jordan
- LeBron James
- Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
- Bill Russell
- Magic Johnson
- Wilt Chamberlain
- Larry Bird
- Tim Duncan
- Kobe Bryant
- Shaquille O’Neal
ESPN used a group of basketball experts to make the assessments, with all but one of the six Lakers having earned a spot in the basketball Hall of Fame. The only current member of the Lakers on the list is James in the second spot.
“Standing 6-9 and weighing north of 250 pounds with a 40-inch vertical, James’ game is built on power, but his passing ability might be his strongest skill,” Dave McMenamin of ESPN wrote. “The four-time MVP and three-time champion has reinvented how an athlete’s prime should be viewed; he had the Lakers in the thick of a title hunt as a 35-year-old playing in his 17th season. His chase-down block in Game 7 of the 2016 Finals to help complete a 3-1 comeback against a Warriors team that won 73 games will forever encapsulate his will to win.”
The other five players are O’Neal in 10th and Bryant ranked just above him in ninth place. Fellow legends Chamberlain in the sixth spot, Johnson in fifth and Abdul-Jabbar in third round out the group.
O’Neal and Bryant combined to win three consecutive NBA titles for the Lakers from 2000 to 2002, with Bryant later adding a pair of consecutive championships in 2009 and 2010.
Chamberlain led the Lakers to their first title in Los Angeles in 1972, while Johnson and Abdul-Jabbar helped power the team’s “Showtime” lineup to five titles in the 1980s.
Bryant and Johnson are the only members of this select group of Lakers to have played their entire career with the team, with Johnson also having previously served as the team’s head coach and in an executive role.
The fact that six players with roots in a single franchise made the top 10 shouldn’t be surprising, considering that the Lakers have won 11 NBA titles since their arrival in Los Angeles 60 years ago.
James is the only member of the group who has yet to hoist a championship trophy in a Lakers uniform, but he does have three in previous NBA stops. He’s hoping to get the opportunity to rectify that omission if and when NBA action resumes this season.