The 10 Best Los Angeles Lakers Playoff Teams
The Los Angeles Lakers are one of the most storied NBA franchises of all time. They are arguably the most successful and overall best franchise in NBA history.
They have 15 NBA Championships, to go along with the record for most wins, highest winning percentage, and the most Finals appearances (30).
In addition, the Lakers have represented some of the greatest players in NBA history, including Hall of Famers Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, and Wilt Chamberlain.
In the Lakers history, they have showcased some remarkable playoff squads that often breezed through the postseason. Here are the 10 Best Los Angeles Lakers playoff teams.
10. 1999-2000 Los Angeles Lakers
This was the first championship of the Lakers three-peat and the start of the Kobe-Shaq-Phil Jackson domination era. Los Angeles used momentum from a spectacular 67-15 regular season campaign to propel them through the postseason.
The team went 15-8 in the playoffs, surviving a tough Western Conference playoff slate that included a grueling seven-game series with the Portland Trail Blazers in the West Finals. LA then beat the Indiana Pacers in six games to take home the title.
9. 1979-1980 Los Angeles Lakers
This was a significant year because it was the start of the “Showtime Lakers” era and the team’s first championship in eight seasons. Led by a rookie Magic Johnson, Los Angeles didn’t have much trouble in the playoffs en route to a six-game series win over the 76ers in the Finals.
Johnson earned the Finals MVP award after displaying one of the best ever playoff performances by a rookie, going off for 42 points, 15 rebounds, and seven assists in the game six clincher.
8. 2001-2002 Los Angeles Lakers
This ‘01-‘02 squad delivered the Lakers the three-peat and was the final stand of the Shaq-Kobe tandem in LA. The Lakers charged through the playoffs with relative ease, going 12-4 in the first three rounds, before sweeping the New Jersey Nets in the Finals.
O’Neal received his third consecutive Finals MVP award and it was clear that Los Angeles was the dominant force in the early part of the decade.
This squad saw plenty of memorable moments in the postseason, including their fierce rivalry with the Sacramento Kings that went into seven games and came down to an overtime thriller.
Derek Fisher and Robert Horry were also crucial members of this championship team.
7. 1971-1972 Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers had their best regular season in franchise history, finishing with an impressive 69-13 record. They carried over that momentum into the postseason, going 12-3 and defeating the New York Knicks 4-1 to win their first ever title in the city of Los Angeles.
Backed by Wilt Chamberlain, who was awarded the Finals MVP, and a terrific Jerry West, the Lakers were able to get revenge on the Knicks and win their only ring of the 1970s.
6. 1981-1982 Los Angeles Lakers
This was the first year of the Pat Riley era in Los Angeles and it sure proved beneficial to the franchise. The Lakers breezed through the 1982 playoffs, winning nine consecutive contests and sweeping the first two rounds.
They got the best of the 76ers in the championship series, winning four games to two for their second championship in three seasons.
Magic Johnson continued his outstanding play for the “Showtime Lakers” and won his second Finals MVP honors.
5. 2008-2009 Los Angeles Lakers
The 2008-2009 Lakers, aka the current defending NBA Champs, were an excellent playoff team that regained its championship form after a disappointing loss to the Boston Celtics in the Finals the previous year.
They were motivated by the sting of defeat at the hands of their most vicious rivals and guided by a determined Kobe Bryant to land the franchise’s 15th title and fourth of this decade. The reason this Lakers team isn't ranked higher is because of the difficulty they endured in their quest for the title.
They needed seven games to down the Houston Rockets in the second round and another six games to defeat the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference Finals before advancing to the Finals for the second straight year.
They triumphed over a weaker Orlando Magic team, 4-1, and Bryant snagged his first ring without the giant shadow of Shaquille O’Neal.
This team was very deep and featured a variety of weapons, such as Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum, and Lamar Odom. These Lakers were exceptionally poised in their championship run.
4. 1988-1989 Los Angeles Lakers
The 1988-1989 group was a sure-fire bet to win their sixth championship of the decade and establish the Showtime Lakers as one of the most dominant squads in NBA history. They stampeded through the first three rounds of the postseason, finishing with a perfect 11-0 mark.
However, sudden injuries to Byron Scott and Magic Johnson derailed their championship aspirations and they were subsequently swept by the “Bad Boy” Pistons.
This was still an excellent playoff team that likely would have gone the distance if it weren’t for injuries to key players.
3. 1984-1985 Los Angeles Lakers
This was the prime time of the Showtime Lakers era. LA accomplished a 15-4 record in the playoffs and knocked off the Celtics in six games behind a 37-year old Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who captured his second Finals MVP award.
What makes this team even more special is that they were able to defeat Boston at the Garden, making them the only visiting team to ever win a trophy there.
2. 1986-1987 Los Angeles Lakers
Another 15-4 mark in the postseason to go along with another triumph over their Boston Celtic nemeses gave the Lakers their fourth championship of the "Showtime Lakers" decade.
Magic Johnson won his third Finals MVP award after yet another brilliant performance that helped LA win their second Larry O’Brien trophy in three seasons. The Lakers lost only two games through the first three rounds.
The roster was equipped with Defensive Player of the Year Michael Cooper and a star-studded lineup consisting of James Worthy, Bryon Scott, Kareem “The Dream”, and A.C. Green.
The Showtime Lakers will always be viewed as one of the most powerful dynasties to exist in professional sports.
1. 2000-2001 Los Angeles Lakers
The 2000-2001 Lakers were arguably the best NBA playoff team of all time, and without a doubt the best Los Angeles Lakers playoff team of all time. They were extremely dominant, breezing through the postseason with a remarkable 15-1 mark, which is the best in NBA history.
The Lakers swept the Trail Blazers, Kings, and Spurs in the West playoffs to start with a perfect 11-0 record.
They suffered a rare loss to the Allen Iverson led Philadelphia 76ers at home in game one of the NBA Finals, but bounced back to win four straight and take the series.
This team was once again led by the dynamic duo of Shaq and Kobe, who combined to average an astounding 57.6 points per game against Philadelphia.
This Lakers squad will always be remembered as a revered team that is seen as the greatest Los Angles Lakers playoff team of all time.