The Los Angeles Lakers are a global brand — in large part due to the success on the court historically speaking, but more so based on the elite talent that has represented the team. Though fans of the Boston Celtics won’t like this, there’s no other NBA franchise that had more iconic players play for it comparatively speaking. The Lakers are unparalleled in that regard. One could make a top-50 list and still have quality hoopers who’ve donned the purple and gold. It was difficult narrowing down this list to 10. However, it has encompassed Lakers from virtually all of the team’s prominent eras.
10. Wilt Chamberlain
Chamberlain was an absolute force of nature on the court. Towering over opponents and dominating the game with his sheer presence, Wilt brought an unparalleled level of athleticism and skill to the team. His imposing figure in the paint made him a nightmare for opposing defenses, as he effortlessly grabbed rebounds and swatted shots away with authority.
During his tenure with the Los Angeles Lakers from 1968 to 1973, Wilt Chamberlain showcased his dominance on the court, notably averaging 14.8 points and 19.9 rebounds per game during the 1971-1972 season, where the Lakers clinched the NBA Championship. Additionally, Chamberlain recorded an incredible single-game performance by grabbing 41 rebounds against the Detroit Pistons on February 24, 1960.
9. George Mikan
In some respects, Mikan was the original big man who paved the way for giants in the NBA. When he joined the Lakers, he brought a whole new level of dominance to the court. Standing at 6-foot-10, he was a towering figure, making him nearly unstoppable in the paint. Mikan’s impact was felt not just in his scoring ability but also in his defensive prowess, intimidating opponents with his shot-blocking skills.
During his time with the Lakers in the 1950s, Mikan racked up an impressive list of accolades, including five NBA championships and being named the league’s Most Valuable Player three times. His unstoppable hook shot became his trademark move. But beyond the stats and awards, Mikan’s influence extended far beyond the hardwood, as he helped popularize the game of basketball and laid the groundwork for future generations of players to follow in his footsteps.
8. LeBron James
Some might be surprised to see LeBron on this list. However, his play has warranted inclusion for a few reasons. He did break the all-time NBA scoring record as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers. He also helped the Lakers win an NBA Championship during the ‘Bubble’ season. Personally, James also has made six All-Star appearances (in six years) since joining the franchise. There’s no denying the startling fact that his level of play remains exceptionally high as he approaches his 40th birthday. We’ve never seen an NBA play maintain this level at the current stage of LeBron’s career.
7. James Worthy
‘Big Games James’ is among the more popular players in Lakers history. He was a dynamic wing — and in some cases a transcendent player with his ability to function as an early-era stretch four. When Worthy got out in transition on the break, few could stop his drives to the basket. The seven-time All-Star/three-time NBA Champ earned the nickname after repeated big-time games during the playoffs. His performance in the 1988 NBA Finals earned him the Finals MVP award, as he averaged an impressive 22 points per game during the series. For as good as he was on the floor as a leader, Worthy is an even better person.
6. Elgin Baylor
Most people don’t realize how good Baylor was back in his prime. He was a powerful, athletic archetype of a small forward that would’ve easily translated to today’s era. Many stars from past eras can’t say the same. He was a scorer at all levels and was nearly unstoppable when putting the ball on the deck and attacking the rim. He led the Lakers to eight NBA Finals appearances. In the process, he was an 11-time All-Star and a 10-time All-NBA selection. Baylor should get more credit than he does based on the resume he built.
5. Shaquille O’Neal
“The Big Fella” would’ve ranked higher on this list had he not left the Lakers towards the end of his prime. Shaq will forever be known as the leader of the famed three-peat in the early 2000s. Teaming with Kobe Bryant, O’Neal was an immovable force in the paint. The sheer power he brought to the game remains unmatched even to this day. He was a force of nature, pairing unusual quickness with a massive frame. O’Neal also deserves credit for being a much better passer than people give him credit for. Ultimately, he is the most dominant player in NBA history.
4. Jerry West
The Logo himself, West was an excellent combo guard before the term was even widely used. He functioned as both a shooting guard and a point guard during different spells of his career. An immensely smart player with high-level skills, the guard positions were owned by West during the prime of his career. The 14-time All-Star led the team to nine NBA Finals appearances (winning one). For good measure, West was even a multi-time All-NBA Defensive player. Simply put, he could do it all (and we aren’t even talking about his prowess as a front-office executive).
3. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
Abdul-Jabbar’s career did start with the Milwaukee Bucks — hence why he ranks No. 3 on this list. With that said, virtually everyone associates him with his time in Los Angeles. The skyhook — which he perfected — was the most unstoppable shot in league history. No one had a chance to block it. In 14 years with the franchise, the former UCLA star helped the Lakers win five NBA Championships. With the Lakers alone, he made 13 All-Star teams, won three MVP Awards, and was named a First-Team All-NBA player on six different occasions.
2. Magic Johnson
There’s not enough space to fully flesh out the impact Johnson had on this franchise. A five-time NBA Champion, he revolutionized the game playing it with joy, pace, and excellence. We had never seen a 6-foot-9 point guard before, and he ultimately set the scene for LeBron James to emerge decades later. The intelligence on the court was otherworldly. Johnson could see plays form before anyone else. As the fulcrum of the ‘Showtime’ era, Johnson would whip passes all around the court finding teammates for buckets. His versatility was also unmatched, as he was even asked to play center in a Finals game. Without a doubt, Johnson is truly emblematic of this franchise’s rich history.
1. Kobe Bryant
Magic Johnson easily could’ve been first on this list. Most would’ve probably slotted him there. However, in the wake of Bryant’s passing, we’ve seen the city of Los Angeles respond viscerally. You can’t go anywhere in the greater LA area without seeing some remembrance of Kobe — whether it’s a jersey hanging in a shop window or a mural expertly crafted on a random brick wall. He provided NBA fans around the globe with 20 years of memories. The closest thing we’ve seen to Michael Jordan, Bryant was a stone-cold killer out on the court. Accolades aside (and there are plenty of them), this was a guy who was determined to succeed at all costs. And, for the most part…he did.