In defeating the Boston Celtics in a thrilling seven-game series, Kobe Bryant is now a five-time NBA champion; has played in seven Finals series in his fourteen-year career and recently passed Jerry West as the all-time leading scorer for the Los Angeles Lakers. Is Kobe Bryant now the greatest Los Angeles Laker of all time? Here is the list of some of the memorable names that have bought championship banners to this franchise.
Mostly remembered for his nearly indefensible sky-hook shot, Kareem Abdul Jabbar was one of the greatest big men to ever play the game of basketball. Jabbar recorded six Most Valuable Player Awards and six titles; five of which came during his time with the Lakes. When he retired in 1988-1989 season, he would leave as the league’s all-time leading scorer (38,387 points – 24.6ppg) along with 17,440 rebounds (11.2 per game) and over 3,100 blocked shots. What was also amazing about Jabbar’s career was the fact that he played for more than twenty seasons in the NBA.
You cannot mention the Lakers by name without bringing up the name Magic Johnson. Johnson literally figuratively and literally changed the way the game was played. At 6-9, Magic was the tallest player to ever play the point-guard position and his court vision was unbelievable. It would be Johnson who inspired the term “triple-double” as he recorded many throughout the course of his career. One of his memorable performances was during the 1980 Finals during his rookie season. Kareem Abdul Jabbar was sidelined with an injury and would have to miss game six. Johnson would step in and play the center position and would have lead the Lakers to the title recording 42 points, 15 rebounds and 7 assists. Like Kobe Bryant, Magic also won five titles with the Lakers along with three regular season and Finals awards as well.
Also, known as Mr. Clutch, Jerry West was Mr. Laker long before that were was a Magic Johnson or Kobe Bryant. West became only the third in league history to reach 25,000 points. Lead the Lakers to nine NBA Finals appearances and was an All-Star every season during his 14 years in the league. West was known as a gritty defender with a tenacious jump-shot and when he left the game of basketball, only Michael Jordan had a higher career playoff scoring average and only Jabbar had scored more points in the post-season as a Laker. Also, only West and Jordan were the only two players to ever average over 40 points during a Finals series.
While Kobe Bryant is the player that defines the success of the current Laker teams, It is not the right time to elevate him to the status as the greatest Laker of all time. However, if Bryant is able to win one or two more titles, it would then be fair to mention Kobe in this category.