The basketball landscape has been forever changed by Jerry West. The silhouette of the NBA logo sadly passed away Wednesday morning at the age of 86, though his impact as a player and executive will never be forgotten. 

West spent the entirety of his pro playing days with the Lakers, with whom he etched his name among the greatest to grace the hardwood while cementing the franchise as one of the most glamorous in sports. Upon retiring in 1974, he had a case as perhaps the best Laker of all time. 

Fifty years — and 11 NBA titles — later, there is stiff competition to be included in the Lakers pantheon. With that, here are the 10 greatest Lakers players of all time.

Note: players are listed in chronological order

1. George Mikan (1948-56)

Career stats with Lakers: 23.1 PPG, 13.4 RPG, 2.8 APG, 108.7 WS
Championships: 5x (1949, 1950,1952, 1953, 1954)
Notable Achievements: HOF, 3x Scoring Champ, 6x All-League, 4x All-Star, NBA 75th Anniversary Team

Mikan was one of the most dominant players of his era and was voted the greatest player in the first half-century by the AP. Nicknamed Mr. Basketball, he led the league in scoring three straight seasons and retired as the NBA’s all-time leading scorer. Moreover, he led the Lakers to five titles, including three straight from 1952 to 1954. The big man was also chosen to six All-League teams, he’s a member of the NBA’s 75th Anniversary Team and has his No. 99 jersey retired in Lakers lore.

2. Elgin Baylor (1958-72)

Career stats with Lakers: 27.4 PPG, 13.5 RPG, 4.3 APG, 104.2 WS
Notable Achievements: HOF, 10x All-NBA, 11x All-Star, 1958-59 ROY, NBA 75th Anniversary Team

Baylor’s most notable scoring move was his running hook shot, which he famously utilized the backboard. The undersized big man posted an eye-popping 71 points in a game in 1960, a team record that stood until Kobe Bryant delivered his famous 81-point night against Toronto in 2006. He also delivered a 61-point effort in Game 5 of the 1962 NBA Finals, which remains a Finals record. His 19.8 rebounds per game in 1960-61 is a record for players under 6-foot-8.

3. Jerry West (1960-74)

Career stats with Lakers: 27.0 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 6.7 APG, 62.6 WS
NBA Titles: 1 (1972)
Notable Achievements: HOF, 14x All-Star, 12x All-NBA, 1969 Finals MVP, 5x All-Defense, NBA 75th Anniversary Team

Nicknamed “The Logo,” West was an elite scorer, posting a career average of 27.0 points per game, which is the fourth-highest figure among retired players. He led the Lakers in scoring seven times and his average of 29.1 PPG in the playoffs is fifth-highest in NBA history. He and Wilt Chamberlain combined to lead what some believe is the best team of all time, the 1971-72 Lakers, which won an NBA record 33 consecutive games en route to the title. Although West never won a league MVP, he finished in the top five eight different times, including four second-place finishes. He’s also the only player to win Finals MVP for the losing team. He appeared in the Finals nine times but came away victorious just once.

Nick honors Jerry West with a history lesson on ‘The Logo’

4. Wilt Chamberlain (1968-73)

Career stats with Lakers: 17.7 PPG, 19.2 RPG, 4.3 APG, 63.6 WS
NBA Titles: 1 (1972)
Notable Achievements: HOF, 1x All-NBA, 4x All-Star, 2x All-Defense, 4x Rebounding Champ, 1972 Finals MVP, NBA 75th Anniversary Team

Wilt joined the Lakers for the last chapter of his career and made it count. He managed to lead the NBA in rebounds in four of his five seasons with the purple and gold, while posting 108 games with 15-plus points and 20-plus rebounds. That was 20 more games than any other player during that span, despite Wilt appearing in just 12 games in one of those seasons.

5. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (1975-89)

Career stats with Lakers: 22.1 PPG, 9.4 RPG, 3.3 APG, 158.7 WS
NBA Titles: 5 (1980, 1982, 1985, 1987, 1988)
Notable Achievements: HOF, 3x MVP, 10x All-NBA, 13x All-Star, 7x All-Defense, 2x Blocks Leader, 1x Finals MVP, NBA 75th Anniversary Team

Kareem did it all with the Lakers, helping lead them to five titles. He remained especially good in the playoffs deep into his thirties and is the oldest player to win Finals MVP (38 years old in 1985). “Cap” posted 30-plus points 45 times in the postseason and double-digit rebounds 66 times. His 26 games with at least 30 points and 10 rebounds during his Lakers tenure led all NBA players. Moreover, his 108 playoff games with multiple blocks were 36 more than any other player in that stretch.

Colin Cowherd remembers ‘The Logo’ Jerry West

6. Magic Johnson (1979-91, 1995-96)

Career stats with Lakers: 19.5 PPG, 7.2 RPG, 11.2 APG, 155.8 WS
NBA Titles: 5 (1980, 1982, 1985, 1987, 1988)
Notable Achievements: HOF, 3x MVP, 10x All-NBA, 12x All-Star, 3x Finals MVP, 4x Assist Champ, 2x Steal Champ, NBA 75th Anniversary Team

He’s the winningest Laker of all time and, for some, still the most beloved. Magic joined forces with Kareem to spawn the “Showtime” Lakers. His 11.2 career assists per game is the highest average in NBA history. He’s also one of just two retired players to average at least 19.0 points, 5.0 rebounds and 7.5 assists per game, all figures well below his actual career averages. To this day, Magic’s 49 playoff games with 15 or more assists are more than the players with the second and third-most such games combined.

7. James Worthy (1982-83 to 1993-94)

Career stats with Lakers: 17.6 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 3.0 APG, 81.2 WS
NBA Titles: 3 (1985, 1987, 1988)
Notable Achievements: HOF, 2x All-NBA, 7x All-Star, 1x Finals MVP, NBA 75th Anniversary Team

A quiet assassin, Worthy averaged 21.1 points per game in his playoff career. “Big Game” James routinely saved his best for when the lights were brightest, scoring 20 points or more in 22 NBA Finals games, which is more than Magic Johnson and Shaq had in their Lakers tenures.  

8. Shaquille O’Neal (1996-04)

Career stats with Lakers: 27.0 PPG, 11.8 RPG, 3.1 APG, 97 WS
NBA Titles: 3 (2000, 2001, 2002)
Notable Achievements: HOF, 1x MVP, 14x All-NBA, 15x All-Star, 3x Finals MVP, NBA 75th Anniversary Team

His relocation from Orlando to Los Angeles made for one of the biggest free-agent signings in NBA history. It would eventually bring about a three-peat — the last to happen in any of the four major sports — with O’Neal claiming each Finals MVP. He and Michael Jordan are the only players in NBA history to pull that off. While with the Lakers, Shaq went for at least 20 points and 10 rebounds 17 times in the playoffs — no other player in that time frame had even 10 such games — and 328 times in the regular season, or 40 more than second-place Tim Duncan.  

Ric Bucher remembers Jerry West

9. Kobe Bryant (1996-2016)

Career stats with Lakers: 25.0 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 4.7 APG
NBA Titles: 5 (2000, 2001, 2002, 2009, 2010)
Notable Achievements: HOF, 1x MVP, 15x All-NBA, 18x All-Star, 2x Scoring Champ, 2x Finals MVP, 12x All-Defense, NBA 75th Anniversary Team

Arguably the player most associated with the purple and gold, Kobe spent all 20 of his NBA seasons with the Lakers. His 81 points versus the Toronto Raptors on Jan. 22, 2006 are the most in a game in 60 years and the second-most all time. Bryant’s name is all over the Lakers record book, as he leads the franchise in field goals, 3-point field goals, free throws, steals and points. His 88 career playoff games with 30-plus points trail only Michael Jordan and LeBron James in NBA history.

10. LeBron James (2018-present)

Career stats with Lakers: 27.0 PPG, 7.9 RPG, 8.0 APG, 44.3 WS
NBA Titles: 1 (2020)
Notable Achievements: 6x All-NBA, 6x All-Star, 1x Assist Champ, 1x Finals MVP, 1x IST MVP, NBA 75th Anniversary Team

LeBron cemented his place in franchise lore by ending its title “drought” in 2020. His 27.0 scoring average is tied with West for the second-highest in Lakers history, as is his 8.0 assists per game. James led the NBA in assists for the only time in his career in the 2019-20 campaign. In the playoffs, his 19 games with 20 points, eight rebounds and eight assists trail only Nikola Jokić, who has played 32 more playoff games than James since the latter joined the Lakers in 2018.

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