The Greatest Lakers Of All Time, By Jersey Number (40 Through 49)

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It has returned. It was gone but now it's back. My occasional series about jersey numbers and the Lakers who done wore ‘em kicked off almost a year ago. I've no good excuse for why I'm only now getting around to the forties, but luckily jersey numbers don't change all that fast so despite my slothlike pace, I don't need to revise any of my prior picks. If you'd like to review what those were, and only a fool wouldn't, my piece on single-digit jerseys can be found here. Part two covered the teens, part three the twenties and part four the thirties. Since then the anticipation has been... building? Sure, why not. I'm going to pretend this is how George R.R. Martin felt when he was about to release A Dance With Dragons.

So, the forties. Or as I like to think of them, the Land of the Random Power Forwards. There actually haven't been too many Lakers who've worn a 40-something jersey. The franchise existed for 11 years before a guy named Chuck Share (number 44) became the first. Three jersey numbers in this range (46, 47 and 48) have never been worn by anyone, and only 32 Lakers total belong to this elite brotherhood. I hope Derrick Caracter (number 45) understands what a rare privilege the team has bestowed on him.

To the picks, y'all.

Number 40: Lucius Allen was an excellent college player and a decent pro who had the very good sense to be on Lew Alcindor's teams as often as possible. In 1967 he and Lew were two of four sophomore starters on a UCLA squad that went 30-0 and won the national title. A 6'2" guard, Allen had 19 points and nine boards in the Bruins' national-championship victory over Dayton. The next year, Allen was second team All-American and first team All-Tournament as he and Lew did it again, going 29-1 and capturing another banner. The signature game of that season was at the L.A. Sports Arena, which hosted the Final Four. In the semifinals, UCLA faced Houston, who'd beaten the Bruins at the Astrodome earlier that season to snap their 47-game winning streak. Lucius came close to a triple-double (19 points, 12 assists, nine rebounds) as UCLA exacted horrifying vengeance on the Cougars to the tune of a 32-point margin of victory.

He could've won yet another title the following season, when King Lewis took down his third straight, but Allen had been suspended by the school for twice getting busted with small amounts of weed. The pair, however, reunited in Milwaukee, where they won the 1971 NBA championship with the Bucks, and then again in the mid-‘70s back in Los Angeles after the Lakers traded for them in separate deals. Allen never won a ring with the purple and gold, but he was a very solid performer for two-and-a-half seasons, which is more than can be said for his fellow number 40 Travis Knight.

Number 41: Were we to consider off-court contributions, this spot would belong to Mitch Kupchak. Since we're not doing that (MY HOUSE MY RULES), the pick is Elden Campbell. Elden grew up in Inglewood in the shadow of the old Forum and played his prep ball at Morningside, the same high school that gave us Lisa Leslie, Byron Scott and Kevin Love's dad. His Laker career was a bit ill-timed. It began at the end of the Magic Johnson era and ended right before Shaq and Kobe got their act together and started winning championships. The Lakers shipped Elden and Eddie Jones to Charlotte in March 1999 for a package that included Glen Rice, who also wore number 41. Elden eventually got his ring as a member of the '04 Pistons team that delivered the killshot to the Shaq-Kobe dynasty. Funny how these things work out.

Number 42: No suspense here. It's KCAL's own James Worthy, of course. Three times in Laker history the team has held the first overall pick in the draft, and three times they selected an all-time great: Elgin Baylor (1958), Magic Johnson (1979) and Big Game James (1982). Not bad. The pick they used to acquire Worthy originally belonged to the Cleveland Cavaliers. In 1980, shortly after he acquired the Cavs, owner Ted Stepien sent Cleveland's first-round pick in the ‘82 draft along with Butch Lee to the Lakers, and in return picked up Don Ford (an unremarkable backup big man) and the Lakers' first-round pick in 1980, which Stepien used to select Chad Hinch. Hinch averaged 2.9 points a night in an NBA career that lasted 41 games. So you see, kids, the misery of Cavs fans is nothing new.

Number 43: Chuck Nevitt... Frank Brickowski... Corie Blount... Brian Cook... this is the Lakers' go-to jersey for replacement-level power forwards. Thankfully Mychal Thompson is here to save us from having to figure out which one of those scrubs is least undeserving. By the time he arrived in Lakerdom in 1987, Mych was 32 years old with his best seasons behind him. But he was big, durable and competent and gave the Lake Show 25 minutes of honest work every night. He was exactly the kind of reserve big man every championship team needs. And every once in a while, he'd irritate the hell out of Chick Hearn to amusing effect.

Number 44: Only two Lakers, Chuck Share and Jerry West, have ever worn the double quatro. Guess which one was better. Shit, did the boldface give it away?

(Lyrics to this highlight reel are NSFW, but really, if your place of employment frowns on Cypress Hill you should probably quit anyway.)

Miss U, Logo.

Number 45: Torrid rebounder, iron man and object of countless abstinence jokes, A.C. Green narrowly edges out Caracter and Sean Rooks. A.C. was basically the perfect role player for the Showtime era in that he filled a lot of needs without siphoning possessions away from his extravagantly talented teammates. The Lakers cut him loose in 1993 as part of the post-Magic teardown but brought him back in 1999 to win one last ring. And who'd they trade to reacquire him? Sean Rooks.

(Super bonus fact: "A.C." doesn't stand for anything. That's his actual name.)

Number 46: Never been worn.

Number 47: Never been worn either, but did you know that 47 is considered by some to be the "quintessential random number"? If you have friends or exes who went to Pomona College you probably do know this because Pomonians never shut up about it. Read this if you don't believe me.

Number 48: Never been worn and not considered to be the quintessential anything.

Number 49: Friends, say hello to Mel McCants, the only Laker ever to wear number 49. Mel played 65 minutes total in his NBA career, all on the 1989-90 team. I can't find much intel on the guy other than that he's from Chicago and played four years at Purdue. I did, however, find the opening credits to the sitcom "Alice," which featured a character named Mel, so let's go with that.

Past Honorees

Number 0: Orlando Woolridge
Number 1: Anthony Peeler
Number 2: Derek Fisher
Number 3: Sedale Threatt
Number 4: Byron Scott
Number 5: Robert Horry
Number 6: Eddie Jones
Number 7: Lamar Odom
Number 8: Kobe Bryant
Number 9: Nick Van Exel
Number 10: Norm Nixon
Number 11: Bob McAdoo
Number 12: Vlade Divac
Number 13: Wilt Chamberlain
Number 14: Sam Perkins
Number 15: Dick Schnittker
Number 16: Pau Gasol
Number 17: Jim Pollard
Number 18: Sasha Vujacic
Number 19: Vern Mikkelsen
Number 20: Brian Shaw
Number 21: Michael Cooper
Number 22: Elgin Baylor
Number 23: Cedric Ceballos
Number 24: Kobe Bryant
Number 25: Gail Goodrich
Number 26: Danny Schayes
Number 27: Art Spoelstra
Number 28: D.J. Mbenga
Number 29: -
Number 30: George Lynch
Number 31: Kurt Rambis
Number 32: Magic Johnson
Number 33: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
Number 34: Shaquille O'Neal
Number 35: Rudy LaRusso
Number 36: -
Number 37: Ron Artest
Number 38: -
Number 39: -

(- means never been worn)

Follow Dex on Twitter @dexterfishmore.

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