The Los Angeles Lakers All-Time Starting Five

The Los Angeles Lakers All-Time Starting Five
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When someone thinks about sports franchises, some popular names are the New York Yankees, the Dallas Cowboys, and, of course, the Los Angeles Lakers. The Lakers have been around since the beginning of the NBA. The NBA logo is even modeled after a Laker legend: Jerry West. Tied for the most championships in the NBA with the Boston Celtics, the LakeShow has had dozens of spectacular players.

Being one of the premiere spots for NBA free agents to arrive, there has rarely been a time when the Lakers haven’t had a superstar player. But, considering all the talent that has arrived in Los Angeles over the years, who would make the Lakers’ all-time starting five? This list is not based on talent alone, as certain players might be too ball-dominant or just not fit on a team of superstars. This is my opinion alone, and it is always open for debate!

Point Guard: Magic Johnson

This choice felt obvious. Earvin “Magic” Johnson is possibly the greatest Laker ever. He played for the franchise for his entire career, and what a career it was. In his rookie season alone, he won the Finals MVP and played every position to win. He is still the only rookie ever to win the Finals MVP. When Kareem Abdul-Jabbar went down with an injury, rookie Magic stepped up to play center, ending up with 42/15/7 to win the pivotal Game 6. His versatility cannot be understated, along with his passing ability.  

With the rest of the starting five being so amazing, someone who is a great passer is a must-have to distribute the ball. Running the offense would be no easy task, but if anyone could do it, it would be Magic Johnson. Having played alongside Kareem, Magic is already familiar with not being the primary scorer on a team. In his career, he only averaged 19.5 points. However, his average of 11.2 assists is otherworldly and would fit perfectly on the Lakers’ all-time starting five.

Shooting Guard: Kobe Bryant

What has not already been said about Kobe? League MVP, five-time champion, gold medalist, and plenty more allocations Without Kobe, many basketball players, both professional and not, would have never picked up the sport. He has become an icon for Los Angeles and the entire world. If you threw crumbled paper into a trash can, you would yell, “Kobe!” As for the Lakers’ all-time starting five, there would be no better shooting guard.

As ball-dominant as Kobe can be, he has shown that he can play with some of the best. There was the Redeem Team. This was the 2008 Olympic basketball team featuring LeBron JamesChris PaulDwyane WadeCarmelo Anthony, and Dwight Howard. They were named the Redeem Team as the 2004 Olympics basketball team had disappointed with a bronze medal. The USA wanted redemption. However, the team played poorly together, and it looked like they might not be able to win gold medals with such an incredible roster. Until head coach Mike Krzyzewski, better known as “Coach K” of Duke fame, brought in Kobe Bryant.

Kobe brought leadership and competitive energy to the roster, which ultimately rocketed them to gold medals. This is why Kobe is in the Lakers’ all-time starting five. He has shown he can play with the greats and not take away from them while also driving them mentally and emotionally. Magic might be the point guard, but Kobe Bryant would lead these five.

Small Forward: LeBron James

LeBron has proven that he is an all-time player for three different teams. He is mostly known for his time as a Cavalier, winning the unbelievable 2017 championship. However, his current days as a Laker have locked him in as an all-time great for the team. He brought a championship to LA in 2020 after 10 years of below-average mediocrity. He is also playing amazing basketball at the age of 38, averaging 24.7 points this season. The next highest PPG by someone at his age? Vince Carter, with 5.8 PPG at 38 years old.

On the Lakers’ all-time team, LeBron would offer a little bit of everything for the Lakers. LeBron is a great secondary ball-handler next to Magic. His passing ability would be extremely beneficial to the Lakers’ all-time team. Also an Olympic gold medalist, playing alongside Kobe in 2008, LeBron has proven to be unselfish on a court with superstars. Countless times in close games, LeBron will pass to the open man in the final seconds instead of forcing it himself.

LeBron James might not have been a Laker for most of his career, but what he has brought to the organization is just as great as that of other all-time Lakers. The Lakers, before LeBron signed, were one of the worst teams in the NBA. Only a few years after his signing, along with the trade for Anthony Davis, the Larry O’Brien trophy once again came to Los Angeles. He is not only one of the greatest players ever but one of the greatest Lakers ever and deserves a spot on the Lakers’ all-time starting five.

Power Forward: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

It might be cheating to slot one of the greatest centers ever into the power forward position. But today, the NBA is positionless. Even the All-NBA teams have abandoned the position format, allowing players like Nikola Jokic and Joel Embiid to be on the All-NBA First Team. If Victor Wembanyama, who is 7’4″, can play power forward on the Spurs this season, then Kareem can slide to the power forward spot.

The Captain, before LeBron James recently, was the NBA’s all-time leading scorer. His iconic skyhook was one of the most unblockable shots, contributing heavily to his overall point total. Alongside such an accolade comes plenty more. He was the Most Valuable Player in the NBA six times. No one else has won the MVP six times. He won six championships, two as an assistant coach, proving his worth as not only a player but as a leader. His defensive and offensive prowess is legendary, along with his proven chemistry with the point guard of this Lakers’ all-time starting five. Magic Johnson

Kareem provides everything a team could need. Other centers could slide to the power forward position on the Lakers’ all-time starting five, of course. The Lakers are known for having elite players for the franchise’s lifespan. Anthony Davis, Shaquille O’NealPau GasolWilt Chamberlain, and plenty more could easily make the Lakers’ all-time starting five. But none of them bring the entire package that Kareem Abdul-Jabbar brings.

Center: Shaquille O’Neal

An argument could be made that Shaq could play the power forward position while Kareem stayed at center. But, considering the Diesel offers no mid-range game to space the floor, he fits best in the center position. And no Lakers’ all-time starting five should be without Shaq. It is impossible to debate that Shaq was the most dominant player ever in the NBA. Teams were forced to sign big men who could barely play basketball because they needed someone to put their hands up to hopefully stop Shaq. It was hopeless, though; he was quite literally unstoppable.

Almost any fan of basketball knows of the dominance the Lakers brought during Shaq and Kobe’s time together. Three championships in a row, with Shaq averaging 27 PPG and 12 RPG. He won MVP in 2000 and was Finals MVP all three years the Lakers won. Although his time with the Lakers was shorter than the other players on this Lakers all-time starting five, he is still known as a legendary player for the team. Just watching him on the court felt unreal because how could someone so big be so fast, along with bullying everyone who attempted to defend him? He didn’t even need to try, which upset Kobe Bryant as a teammate who worked his hardest every night. One of the main reasons Shaq left was the feud with Kobe about his work ethic.

Shaq, alongside players like Magic and LeBron, would be more unstoppable, if possible. Two players who can easily set him up in the paint would allow Shaq to score with more ease, with lobs being thrown left and right. He is the perfect center for a team with such prolific passers and a must-have on the Lakers’ all-time starting five.

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