After watching Kobe Bryant pass Jerry West as the Lakers all-time leading scorer in franchise history last night against the Memphis Grizzlies, a thought came to my mind: "Who is the GLOAT (greatest Laker of all time)?" The obvious choice at this point in time is Kobe. He is the perennial all-star on a team full of stars. It seems obvious, but is it really that clear cut. Kobe has played almost as many years as a Laker, as every other Laker Great. Being somewhat young myself, 25, I was a very young lad when Kareem, Magic & Worthy were running the Lakers, and having their rivalry games with the Celtics. So I have very little memory of them and the earliest Lakers I can remember watching were Nick the Quick, Vlade Divac & Eddie Jones.
So, who is the greatest Laker of all time, in regards to what he put into the franchise in the time he was a Laker?
In 14 years as a Laker, he has gotten them to the postseason every year except for one ('04-'05). He is responsible for 4 Lakers Championships (and counting...). He is 1st on the scoring list, 3rd in assists, 2nd in steals, 10th in rebounds & 7th in blocks. He holds the record for most points scored in a quarter (30), half (55) & game (81). He also has the record for most points in one season (2,832 in '05-'06). He has logged 36,440 minutes and has 25,208 points. That is .69 points per minute. He has 2 NBA scoring titles, 1 regular season MVP, 1 Finals MVP, he is a 13 time all-star, has 3 all-star MVP's & is a slam dunk champion. He has been on the All-NBA team 10 times. Most of his damage in the Laker record books is in scoring.
In 13 years as a Laker (i counted his comeback in '95-'96), he has gotten them to the postseason every year. He is responsible for 5 Laker Championships. He is 1st on the assists list, 5th in scoring, 3rd in rebounds, 1st in steals & 11th in blocks. He holds the record for most assists in a quarter (12), half (18) & game (24). He holds almost every Laker assist record there is. He has logged 33,245 minutes and has 17,707 points & 10,141 assists. That is .53 points per minute & .30 assists per minute. He was on the All-NBA team 10 times, has 3 regular season MVPs, an All-Star game MVP, has been in 12 All-Star games & has 1 Finals MVP. His time as a Laker was cut short due to his battle with HIV.
In 14 years as a Laker, he has gotten them to the postseason every year. He is responsible for 5 Laker Championships. He is 3rd on the scoring list, 3nd in rebounds, 1st in blocks, 6th in steals & 6th in assists. He has logged 37,492 minutes as a Laker and has 24,176 points and has 10,279 rebounds. That is .64 points per minute & .27 rebounds per minute. He has 3 MVP's as a Laker, & a Finals MVP. He holds the NBA record for most points scored & most All-Star game selections. He could have been higher on all the all-time Laker lists, but spent his first 6 years in the league with the Milwaukee Bucks.
In 14 years as a Laker, he has gotten them to the postseason every year except for one. He is responsible for 1 Laker Championship, with 9 trips to the finals. He is 2nd on the scoring list, 2nd in assists, 9th in rebounds. Steals and blocks were not recorded as a stat until he retired. He has logged 36,571 minutes and has 25,192 points & 6,238 assists. That is .68 points per minute & .17 assists per minute. He was on the All-NBA team 12 times, was an All-Star 14 times & has 1 All-Star game MVP. He is the only person to be named Finals MVP, and be on the losing team. He hit many "clutch" shots in his day, and is the NBA's logo.
In 14 years as Laker, he has gotten them to the postseason every year except two (and he was injured those 2 years). He is responsible for 0 Laker Championships. He was in the middle of the move to LA, when the Minneapolis franchise was struggling. He is 4th on the scoring list, 1st in rebounds & 7th in assists. Steals and blocks were not recorded when he played. He has logged 33,863 minutes and has 23,149 points & 11,463 rebounds. That is .68 points per minute & .33 rebounds per minute. He was on the All-NBA team 10 times and the All-Star team 11 times. Some say he is the greatest player to never win a championship.
I tried to stick with players that were Lakers for most of their careers (13-14 years). Some others that could be mentioned with these players, but were not Lakers for that many years are:
Wilt Chamberlain, Shaquille O'Neal, Gail Goodrich, George Mikan, James Worthy...
At this point in time, I would have to say Magic Johnson. It is amazing to think that a rookie can receive the MVP award. When he was drafted by Los Angeles, and with Kareem already in place, the dynasty was put into motion and the rest is history. Magic brought the Laker franchise to the dynasty it is today. Jerry can be considered the greatest Laker, I just never saw any of his games and the only highlight I ever see of him is his 3/4 court shot in the playoffs to send it into overtime. Same with Elgin. I have never seen video if him playing so its hard to just go off of stats. Kareem also gets alot of consideration. He would have been the greatest Laker, IMO, if those 6 years in Milwaukee were with the Lakers. This is why this is such a great debate?
However, I believe that once Kobe's career is over, he will be considered the 'GLOAT' (Greatest Laker of All Time). He could possibly be considered the 'GOAT', but that title would entail a whole other fan post with a HUGE can of worms......