After writing an 8,600-word opus highlighting the historical greatness of the NBA’s most successful franchise, what’s a writer to do?
I’ll tell you- you go back to the well!
In writing the last of my 29 “NBA All-Time Starting Fives” articles, it occurred to me that Lakers history has seen enough winners, characters and unique talents that there was a longer, even more involved piece to be written.
As I have previously mentioned, the Lakers have participated in exactly half of the in the Finals series that have taken place since the franchise’s inception, 62 years ago. They’ve won 16 championships, including 10 of the last 30 and five of the past 11.
That doesn’t happen without a pretty strong flow of Hall-of-Famers.
Of the 101 players have suited up in at least 300 games for the Lakers, 13 are in the Hall of Fame. This number is guaranteed to hit 15 exactly five years after the respective retirements of Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant, with Pau Gasol likely to follow suit.
However, it takes more than transcendent stars at the top of the roster to sustain this kind of excellence for nearly two-thirds of a century. A fair number of All-Stars, “very good” players and unsung role players (also known as “glue guys”) need to be on hand as well.
What’s the criteria for inclusion? I’m not exactly sure.
As was the case with the All-Time Starting Fives, inclusion on this listed, and the rankings within it, were based on a combination of length of tenure with the Lakers, general statistical productivity, contribution to team success (in this case conference titles or better), with consideration given to the historical era in which a guy played, and his significance to the Lakers in the context of that era.
In case you were wondering what a list of the 50 greatest Lakers of all time might look like, I submit for you approval…