While Los Angeles Lakers veteran LeBron James long ago established his credentials as a basketball Hall of Famer, a new poll omits him from a list of all-time starting fives.
ESPN’s Dave McMenamin offered his opinion about which players should make up the all-time quintet for the Lakers.
He included a trio of guards in Jerry West, Magic Johnson and Kobe Bryant, put Kareem Abdul-Jabbar at forward and placed Shaquille O’Neal in the center position.
“Four of these picks were no-brainers. Johnson (fifth in career assists) teamed up with Abdul-Jabbar, the NBA’s career scoring leader, to win five championships. Bryant (fourth all time in scoring) paired with O’Neal (eighth in scoring) to win three,” wrote McMenamin.
“The fifth pick was harder. Is it Elgin Baylor, the greatest small forward in franchise history? Or how about LeBron James, the greatest small forward in NBA history? How about James Worthy, who teamed up with Magic and Kareem and won a Finals MVP?
“Ultimately, the pick is West. Baylor never won a ring. James hasn’t been a Laker long enough. Worthy would have to play the 4 and you already have Shaq and the Captain on the blocks. The Logo brings shooting and toughness and leadership, and he is extremely important to the franchise as a whole for his post-playing days in the front office.”
McMenamin’s reasoning for James’ exclusion from the list wasn’t based on ability, but simply that his time with the Lakers has only been for two seasons.
James was not the only basketball legend who failed to make the list of iconic Lakers, with players such as Wilt Chamberlain, Baylor and Worthy also excluded.
Right now, James and his Lakers teammates are focused on getting back on the court to try to capture the first title for the franchise in a decade. Exactly when and where that will happen remains uncertain.
Still, James is a student of the game and knows all about the history of the NBA. That means that he’s well aware of the 11 title teams that the Lakers have had since coming to Los Angeles.
The five players on McMenamin’s list won a collective 19 NBA titles while wearing a Lakers uniform, which means that if James is able to lead the team to a title, he’ll have an argument for his inclusion on future lists.