Being a Los Angeles Lakers fan, there is not much I like about the Boston Celtics.
I respect the Celtics but I don’t care for them much. There is one thing the Boston Celtics organization does that I wish my Lakers would do… honor all their great players, Boston's rafters are full with THEIR guys. Not just the Hall of Famers but the guys that played their hearts out made clutch plays, hustle plays, key stops, contributed to championships, or performed greatly when the team may not have been championship caliber.
I do appreciate the special and exclusive nature of the Lakers retired jersey club, it consists of Hall of Famers and some of the greatest most elite players the game has ever known.
Names like Elgin Baylor, Jerry West, Wilt Chamberlain, Gail Goodrich from the 60’s and early 70’s followed by the great “Showtime” era Lakers like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson and James Worthy are all on display along with George Mikan and the other great Minneapolis Lakers and legendary announcer Chick Hearn, high above the Staples Center court.
But all Lakers fans know there is a rich history on this team and many players with major contributions to the teams success, that may not get them to Springfield and the Hall of Fame but they will always have a HUGE place in the collective memories of Laker Nation.
I suggest in addition to our elite retired number section filled with Hall of Famers and legends, we add a Lakers Ring of Honor.
In this Ring of Honor we would display the numbers of these special Lakers who played such a major role in this great franchise’s success. Championships are a major part of Lakers history but some of our favorite Lakers who did not win rings, also put in work every night and thrilled the crowd, the best of these Lakers deserve to be remembered as well.
So Dr. Buss, if you are reading this, congratulations on your recent enshrinement to the Basketball Hall of Fame, here is a list of Lakers you should make sure are honored and remembered, at least in our house…Staples Center.
My list includes 16 players and three coaches, plus one special Laker—it’s a mix of retired and active Lakers, the active players would be honored upon their retirement.
Four of the following players deserve to be placed in the elite retired number section and the remaining 12 should go into the Ring of Honor (these numbers would not be retired but would hang in the rafters none the less.
So basically we would have a two tiered system, (Tier #1) the elite players numbers would be Retired and (Tier #2) the other special players would be in the Ring of Honor.
The 4 Elite – Tier #1 Lakers (who should join the ranks of the Retired numbers)
Jamaal Wilkes #52 (Retired): In all honesty it’s a travishamockery that “Silk” is not in the Basketball Hall of Fame, check his numbers, college and pro all he did was Win, Win, Win…
His career stats are better than Hall of Famer Joe Dumars, check the records, he won 2 NCAA National Championships at UCLA was the NBA Rookie of the Year for Golden St. and won 4 NBA Championships (3x with the Lakers).
He deserves to be among the Lakers elite.
Shaquille O’Neal #34 (Active): Yeah, I know the Big Aristotle is now the Big Shamrock playing for the hated Celtics, according to some, Shaq committed an act of treason, punishable by not retiring his jersey.
I emphatically disagree, Shaq’s BEST years were with the Lakers and that 3-Peat gave him untouchable status in Lakers lore.
Get over it people the Diesel is one of the top 10 players to ever play the game and his jersey will hang in the Staples Center.
Kobe Bryant #8, #24 (Active): The only question here is do we retire one or both of the Black Mamba’s numbers.
When you play at the rarefied level Bryant’s played at you can have two jersey’s in the rafters.
He’s already top five all time in my book so this is a no brainer, still in his prime we have a long way to go before this ceremony takes place.
Pau Gasol #16 (Active): Since the Lakers have stopped using “Diesel” fuel and started using Spanish “GASOLine” (sorry, I couldn’t resist), the Lakers have been to the NBA Finals every year.
Again, that’s three years of Pau and three trips to the NBA Finals…
He’s been the perfect compliment to Kobe and is arguably the best power forward in the league today.
When he hangs it up he will definitely deserve to join the Lakers elite.
Tier #2 “Ring Of Honor” Lakers: This section includes five Showtime Lakers, three Lakeshow era Lakers, and four from the past decade including three active Lakers.
Ring of Honor
Michael Cooper #21: Tough as nails, one of the top five defensive players of the 80’s.
Defensive Player of the year 1986-87, would not back down from anyone also great three-point shooter. Five-time NBA Champion.
Norm Nixon #10: Super fast, Stormin Norman with the unstoppable pull up jumper off the fast-break.
All-Star and two-time NBA Champion
Byron Scott #4: Great Scott, was a great finisher, and top flight scorer, in fact was the leading scorer on the 1987-88 team scoring 22ppg.
Three-time NBA Champion
Kurt Rambis #31: Clark Kent, led the team in floor burns, scrappiness and hustle also a tough rebounder and definite fan favorite.
Four-time NBA Champion
AC Green #45: the Iron Man, with the trademark Jheri Curl, (LOL), never missed a day at work.
Only Laker to have won titles with Magic & Kareem era and Kobe & Shaq era Lakers.
All-Star and three-time NBA Champion
Vlade Divac #12: the Marlboro Man, crafty, flashy, skilled big man fit right in at the end of the Showtime era.
Divac led the way for the international invasion.
One appearance in the Finals.
Nick Van Exel #9: Nick the Quick, cocky, brash, clutch, great scorer.
One of the best tough shot makers, shot better when a defender was in his face.
The Lakers were no where near championship level but were loads of fun to watch.
Eddie Jones #6: I can still hear the Forum chanting EDDIE, EDDIE…
Eddie Jones was a fan favorite, high flying wing who was a great defender.
He was one of the best defensive guards of the 90’s and 2000’s.
He was also a good shooter and scorer, who brought it every night.
Robert Horry #5: Big Shot Rob or Bob, which ever you prefer.
God gave Horry a double dose of the clutch gene.
Horry was an all around player, jack of all trades, could score and defend, run the break but his biggest attribute was his ability to perform when the lights were the brightest, in pressure situations.
Seven-time NBA Champion, three times with Lakers
Derek Fisher #2:
His stats won’t get him to the Hall of Fame or any All-Star games but Fish is the consummate professional.
He’s like our Derek Jeter, it's funny, both Derek's wear #2, win championships and make big plays (ok, I know Fisher is lacking Jeter's Hall of Fame talent) but Fish, like Horry was in line twice when God was passing out clutchness.
He is a great leader and if it were up to me the Lakers should take this workman like role player and retire his number, but I will settle for the Ring of Honor.
Five-Time NBA Champion
Andrew Bynum #17: I’m projecting here so bear with me.
Young Bynum's enshrinement would probably take place in the year 2025, so we have a ways to go but he already has two rings and he is only 22 years old.
He has the talent but does he have the desire and work ethic to be great?
And will he have good health…if he is blessed with the health his game will take care of the rest.
I see All-Star games in his future and lots of productive basketball.
Two-time NBA Champion.
Lamar Odom #7: Lamar is frustrating to some because of his incredible mix of size and skills.
Reminiscent of Magic Johnson, some people feel he has not lived up to his potential.
BUT, I see an unselfish 6’10" rebounding machine, who is willing to come off the bench and do whatever it takes to WIN.
His versatility and length allow the Lakers to do so much and it’s about time we appreciate Lamar for what he does do.
Two-time NBA Champion.
Pat Riley: Former player and coach who won one NBA Championship as a player and four times a coach of the Showtime Lakers.
(Riley deserves to be retired among the Tier No. 1 elite)
Phil Jackson: The Zen Master has more rings than any other coach in American team sports and has won five times with the Lakers, definitely deserving of this honor (Phil deserves to be retired among the Tier #1 elite)
Tex Winter: the architect of the Triangle, should be in Springfield, but if not there then at least he should be honored at Staples Center.
(Tex should go in the Ring of Honor)
And finally the last great Laker I would nominate for special honor at Staples Center...
Jerry Buss: The greatest owner in professional sports should also be honored with an Owner's Jersey to go in the Tier #1 retired section along with the other Hall of Famers.
So I hope the Lakers brass will take this suggestion under advisement and show some well deserved respect to some of our favorite Lakers who have done so much to continue the great Lakers tradition. I suggest we have one big "Ring of Honor" night and bring in all of the guys and honor them at halftime of a game.
Lakers Nation (and others) let me know what you think, is this Ring of Honor necessary? Would you like to see the Lakers organization honor the past great Lakers that may not be Hall of Fame level? Did I leave anyone off, or would you delete someone? Let the comments begin...