L.A. Lakers: 10 Most Underappreciated Players in Franchise History
The L.A. Lakers have won 16 world championships in their illustrious history, dating back to the franchise's days in Minneapolis. The team is considered to be one of the most, if not the most, successful, revered franchise in professional sports.
As one might imagine, despite all of the great players who have played for the team throughout the years, there are a few underappreciated players who have donned purple and gold.
Well, it's time to give credit where credit's due.
Let's take a look at the 10 most underappreciated players in franchise history.
10. Ronny Turiaf
In his time with the Lakers, Ronny Turiaf was the type of high-octane, physical bench player the Los Angeles Lakers have sorely been missing the last couple seasons.
Many forget how Turiaf stepped up when Andrew Bynum went down in 2008 and helped Pau Gasol fill the void in the post as the team made a run to the Finals.
9. Pau Gasol
Ever since the Los Angeles Lakers came up short in the 2008 NBA Finals, Pau Gasol has been deemed "soft" by fiery, yet misunderstood Lakers fans.
Despite helping to lead the team to back-to-back championships and making three straight All-Pro teams, it seems as though some fans will never truly appreciate the impact Gasol has had on the franchise.
I guess these are the fans who have fond memories of Kwame Brown manning the paint for Los Angeles.
8. Ron Harper
Ron Harper was the team's starting point guard for the 1999-2000 season, helping the team win their first championship since 1988.
Harper served as Phil Jackson's "on-court coach" in his first season coaching the team, having won three championships in Chicago playing under Jackson's triangle offense.
7. Rick Fox
During the Los Angeles Lakers' run to three straight championships in the early 2000s, Derek Fisher and Robert Horry were the team's best role-players.
But I have always felt Rick Fox was a little bit overshadowed.
During those championship years, Fox was often assigned to guarding the opposing team's most dangerous scorer. I remember Fox shutting down the likes of Scottie Pippen and Peja Stojakovic during the Lakers' postseason battles with their Western Conference foes.
6. Kurt Rambis
Kurt Rambis did all the little things for the 1980s "Showtime" Lakers, whether it was rebounding, diving for loose balls, providing hard fouls or being clotheslined by Kevin McHale in the 1984 Finals.
Rambis was similar to Mark Madsen, but with more talent.
5. Vlade Divac
The man best known for being traded in exchange for Kobe Bryant was actually an above-average center for the team for seven seasons.
Divac's best season with the Lakers came in 1995 when he averaged 16 points, 10 rebounds, four assists and two blocks.
4. A.C. Green
A.C. Green spent nine seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers, winning two championships with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Magic Johnson in the 1980s, and one with Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal in 2000.
Green was also the team’s iron man. In his nine seasons with the team, he only missed three games.
3. George Mikan
George Mikan’s accomplishments often get overshadowed by the feats of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Wilt Chamberlain and Shaquille O'Neal. But Mikan's career with the franchise was just as decorated as the franchise's other elite centers.
Mikan led the Minneapolis Lakers to five championships, including three in a row between 1952-1954.
In his seven seasons in Minneapolis, Mikan led the league in scoring three times.
2. Jamaal Wilkes
Jamaal Wilkes won two championships playing for the Los Angeles Lakers in 1980 and 1982. In each of those postseasons, Wilkes averaged 20 points a contest.
1. Gail Goodrich
Gail Goodrich, who played his college basketball at UCLA, spent nine seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers and helped them win the 1972 championship.
Sure, the Lakers teams of the 1960s and 1970s are best remembered for Wilt Chamberlain, Jerry West and Elgin Baylor.
But Goodrich proved to be a consistent force on all of those powerhouse teams. He was named to the 1974 All-NBA first team, in addition to making four All-Star teams while playing for the Lakers.