Each Team’s All-NBA First Team: A 30 Part Series- Part 29 The Los Angeles/ Minneapolis Lakers
With the hype of the offseason coming to an end, I have decided that this would be the perfect opportunity to examine…medium.com
With the hype of the offseason coming to an end, I have decided that this would be the perfect opportunity to examine each team’s specific All-NBA First Team. What I mean by this is- following the criteria set by the NBA for the All-NBA Team rules, I will examine and elaborate on my picks for each team’s specific All-NBA First Team.
G- Earvin “Magic” Johnson: 1979–1991, 1996
It goes without saying that Earvin “Magic” Johnson is not only one of the greatest Lakers of all-time, but also one of the greatest NBA players of all-time. He played 12 full seasons, reaching the NBA finals nine times, winning five of them. He was a 12-time All-Star, a member of 10 All-NBA Teams (9x First Team, 1x Second Team), and was the league MVP three times.
Magic was not only the face of the Lakers, but also the face of the entire NBA. When you thought about basketball, you thought about Magic. From his iconic game seven performance in the 1980 NBA finals, to his magnificent All-Star Game MVP in 1992, Johnson was an impact performer throughout his entire career.
He led the NBA in assists three times, free throw percentage once, and steals per game twice.
He’s the Lakers all-time leader in assists and is in the top five of almost every other major statistical category. His best season came during the 1988–1989 season, a season in which he was the league MVP. He finished the season with averages of 22.5 points, 12.8 assists, and 7.9 rebounds per game.
G- Kobe Bryant: 1996–2016
Like Magic Johnson, Kobe Bryant is arguably not only the greatest Laker of all-time, but also one of the best NBA players of all-time. His numbers speak for themselves; Bryant finished his career with averages of 25 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 4.7 assists per game. He holds the record for most points scored in a game in the post NBA-ABA merger era. He played his entire 20-year career with the Lakers, making the NBA finals seven times, winning five of them.
Bryant was an 18-time All-Star, a member of 15 All-NBA Teams (11x First Team, 2x Second Team, 2x Third Team), the 2007–2008 league MVP, and led the league in scoring twice.
Bryant was the greatest scorer of his generation. Bryant averaged at least 25 points per game in 12 of his seasons, averaging greater than 30 points three separate times.
He is the Lakers’ all-time leader in points scored, made three point fields, made free throws, and steals. In his 20 seasons, the Lakers missed the playoffs a measly four times.
From his 81-point performance against Toronto until his final game against the Jazz in which he scored 60 points, Bryant rarely failed to deliver in terms of pure enjoyment.
F- Elgin Baylor: 1958–1971
From 1958 until his retirement in 1971, Elgin Baylor, alongside Jerry West were the faces of the Lakers’ franchise. Not only was Baylor one of the best players on the Lakers, but he was also one of the best players in the entire NBA.
Baylor was an 11-time All-Star and a member of 10 All-NBA First Teams. He led the NBA in made field goals twice and PER once. His 27.4 points per game is the fourth highest in NBA history and the highest single game average in Lakers’ history.
The Lakers made 12 playoff appearances during his career, making the NBA finals eight times, losing all eight of them.
Although the Baylor never won a championship, his teams were still extremely successful, winning the second most games during the span of his career. At the time of his retirement, he held the Lakers single game record for points scored, scoring 71 on November 15, 1960 against the New York Knicks.
F- James Worthy: 1982–1994
James Worthy was never the Lakers’ best player, but he was still among the most impactful players in franchise history. He was the perfect compliment to play alongside Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
Worthy was a seven-time All-Star, a member two All-NBA Third Teams, and won the 1988 NBA Finals MVP. During the 1988 finals, Worthy averaged 22 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 4.4 assists per game, but what was most impressive was his game seven performance. In that game seven, Worthy erupted for 36 points, 16 rebounds, and 10 assists. At the time it was just the second NBA Finals game seven triple-double in the history of the league.
In his 12 seasons, the Lakers made 11 playoff appearances, winning three championships. Worthy finished his career with averages of 17.6 points, 5.1 rebounds, and 3.3 assists per game.
C- Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: 1975–1989
After being traded to the Lakers before the 1975–1976 NBA season, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar continued to dominate the NBA, maintaining his position as the league’s best player for his half of his Lakers’ career.
During his 14 seasons in Los Angeles, Abdul-Jabbar was a 13-time All-star, a member of 10 All-NBA Teams (6x First Team, 4x Second Team), a three-time league MVP, a five-time champion, and the 1984–1985 Finals MVP. He led the NBA in blocked shots four times and total rebounds once. He was the Lakers leading scorer during his tenure with the team. He finished his Lakers career with averages of 22.1 points, 9.4 rebounds, and 2.5 blocks per game.
His best season as a Laker came in his first year with the team. In that MVP season, he averaged 27.7 points, 16.9 rebounds (career high), and 4.1 blocks (career high) per game.
At the time of his retirement, he was the team’s all-time leader in games played, minutes played, and made field goals.