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I've been in the process of transfering hundreds of VHS tapes to DVD of the Showtime era and got to thinking about the amazing teams I've been able to watch over the years. How awesome is it to be a Laker fan? So I thought I'd put together a top 10 of the teams I've seen. This starts in the mid-70's, when I started rooting for the purple and gold. Loved Kareem, stormin' Norman and Silk Wilkes, but it was watching Magic in college, and then becoming a Laker that made me love hoops and especially the Lakers. So my criteria is only teams I have actually seen play as any other opinion on prior teams/players is just supposition without a true basis for comparison. The things I look for in team greatness is dominance, level of competition, consistancy, historical/league context, and team components. Here we go;
1) 87--62 wins, Magic MVP, dominate all year, rolling through playoffs and beating an elite Celtic team. Magic proving to be best player in league. Showtime excellence. Outstanding team balance and spirit.
2) 01-- 67 wins, unstoppable duo in Shaq and Kobe, best I've seen for 1 year. Beat very good Blazer team in 7. Truly dominated the league.
3) 09--65 wins, Kobe brilliant as usual throughout the season, finals MVP, beat three 50+ win teams, was never really threatened, great team balance.
4) 88--62 wins, back-to-back 1st time since 60's, guaranteed (thanks Riles) Magic supreme all year and he and Worthy incredible duo throughout the playoffs which was very tough. Three 7 game series against good teams in Utah and Dallas and an elite team in Detroit. Hearts were strong on this team.
5) 83--58 wins,overcoming coaching change and media vilification of Magic that lasted most of the year. The Lakers became amazing when Riley opened a full court pressing defense unlike anything in the pros and the Showtime game really began. Beat a good 50+ win Spur team with 3 all-stars and an elite 76er team. Nobody has booed Magic since.
6) 10--underachieved in regular season, mainly due to many injuries, but Kobe's will to win carried team to , incredibly, beat four 50-win teams, including what I believe was an elite Boston team with great heart. Kobe showed the greatest heart and moxy over the course of the year I have ever seen.
7) 85-- 62 wins and a beeline to redemption. Magic and Kareem excercise green demons and history on the parquet floor. Rolled through playoffs and beat a great team. Still get emotional watching those games!
8) 01-- regular season, frankly terrible considering team makeup, mostly due to Shaq's disinterest. But ohhhh those playoffs. Best playoff run ever. 15-1! Should have been undefeated, except for lazy opening OT loss in finals. Swept good Sac and SA teams like they were the Clippers. Kobe was money at every crucial moment and Shaq was a force of nature( when he played hard).
9) 80--60 wins Kareem MVP and most dominant player in league. Magic's errr magic in game 6 still best performance ever in a finals playoff game( though Worthy's game 7 in 88 is close). Beat defending champs in Seattle easily and an elite Dr. J led 76er team in finals. Been smiling ever since, even though the tape delay lasted till 1am. Glad that ended shortly thereafter.
10) 89--Hold on, here me out. Team got swept in the finals, true, but without some incredible bad luck and poor coaching judgement, I believe this team would have easily won 3 in a row and maybe have been 1or 2 on this list. I have about 70 games from this season on tape and this Laker team was dominate, winning many games by double digits. They had 3 all-stars and Byron Scott had his best year as a player. MVP for Magic. This team went undefeated going into a 7-8 day rest before the finals. Riley decided to have 2 a days of hard workouts on an older veteran team. Two days before finals starts, Scott tears up hamstring and a game and a half later so does Magic. End of story especially against guard heavy Detroit. Prior to these injuries the Lakers were overwhelming favorites to win the Finals.
Some notable teams left off including the 3-peat 02 champs and the great 84 team that also lost to incredible injuries in playoffs (Worthy, Wilkes, McAdoo and Nixon). And of course those breathtaking Van Exel/Ceballos teams. How cool is it that an all-time NBA team list could have at least 3-4 of these teams in it. Good to be bleeding purple and gold.