Ranking the 5 Most Athletic Freaks in L.A. Lakers History
The Los Angeles Lakers are one of the greatest franchises in professional sports. From a mountain of NBA Titles to multiple Hall of Fame players, the Lakers have had it all. Equally as impressive is the list of historically athletic players the franchise has trotted out.
Wilt Chamberlain dominated with his world-class talent and athletic ability. George Mikan completely owned the paint and anyone who stepped in it. Elgin Baylor, Jerry West, the list goes on for pages.
For as many unbelievable players the franchise has acquired, there are a select few who are some of the greatest athletes in NBA history. So who are the five greatest athletes in Lakers history? Read on to find out.
5. Shannon Brown
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Named Illinois’ Mr. Basketball in 2003, Shannon Brown went on to star at Michigan State University. Brown was one of the most exciting players in the nation despite being only 6’3. A first-round pick of the Cavaliers, Brown would eventually find his way onto the Lakers roster from 2009 to 2011.
Despite playing a shade under two seasons with the Lakeshow, Brown was a fan favorite from day one. Brown’s speed allowed him to drive past defenders or leak out for transition baskets. However, the true highlights would begin when he planted two feet and exploded up to the rim.
His size made his highlight dunks even more impressive, because he would frequently sky above the rim and throw down a one-handed alley-oop, nearly hitting his head on the rim.
Brown’s athleticism is undeniable and will forever keep him a sentimental favorite of Laker fans, who all have memories of him flying through the air.
4. James Worthy
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“Big Game” James was the first pick in the 1982 NBA draft by the Los Angeles Lakers. Whatever you needed done on a basketball court, James Worthy could do it and do it as well as anyone in the league.
Standing 6’9" with the quickness to guard nearly anyone on the floor, the size to rebound and defend the post, and the athleticism to finish every play, Worthy was amazing to watch.
Thanks to his supreme talent, James Worthy was named one of the NBA’s 50 Greatest Players and is also in the Collegiate and Professional Basketball Hall of Fame.
Worthy’s talent allowed him to perform at such high levels, he was able to win an NCAA Title at North Carolina and three NBA Titles. However, avid Laker fans from the 80’s will remember him diving on the floor, attacking off the dribble, and rattling rims on his thunderous dunks.
Worthy is already one of the greatest Lakers of all time, but his ability to do everything on the basketball court, combined with the athletic ability, land him on this list.
3. Dwight Howard
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Dwight Howard came into the league as one of the most athletic players in his 2004 high school class, and he declared for the NBA draft instead of attending college. Howard would be picked first overall by the Orlando Magic and immediately displayed his breathtaking athleticism along with his massive 6’11" frame.
His talents were apparent when he became the youngest player to average a double-double as a rookie in 2004. Moreover, Howard was able to dominate the paint at a young age thanks to his will to dunk everything he caught near the paint.
In 2009, Dwight would awe spectators at the NBA’s All-Star weekend and win the slam-dunk contest in historic fashion. His athleticism was on full display and Dwight’s personality took over the weekend when he dressed up as Superman for a dunk.
Laker fans are spoiled when it comes to big men and they are going to be spoiled for the foreseeable future. Dwight is sure to bring his personality to Los Angeles, but more importantly, his ability to dominate games with his power and athleticism.
2. Kobe Bryant
The Lakers immediately pushed him into the spotlight by teaming him with Shaquille O’Neal, allowing Kobe to show off his athleticism by playing off of Shaq.
In 1997, Kobe became a fan favorite around the league when he won the Slam Dunk Contest. While his game had yet to develop, his natural athleticism was on full display and would be for years to come.
Additionally, Kobe Bryant has become one of the greatest Lakers in franchise history. Kobe’s competitive spirit, his passion for developing his talents, and his above-the-rim plays guarantees he will stay on this list for a very long time.
1. Shaquille O’Neal
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The 7’1", 303-pound monster from Louisiana State University, was drafted No. 1 overall by the Orlando Magic in 1992.
Nicknamed Shaq, O’Neal was a once-in-a-generation athletic freak who commonly sprinted up and down the floor catching alley-oops in between showing off his ball-handling skills while taking a rebound coast-to-coast for an emphatic slam.
Los Angeles Lakers fans would see one of the great athletes in NBA history thanks to his size, speed, strength, and quickness despite being one of the heaviest players in the league.
There are multiple memorable moments in Shaquille O’Neal’s career in Los Angeles, but he will forever be remember for the alley-oop he finished from Kobe Bryant against the Portland Trail Blazers during Game 7 of the 2000 Western Conference Finals.