My All Time Lakers Team

Darius Soriano —  September 20, 2010

Feb. 04, 2010 - Los Angeles, CALIFORNIA, EEUU - LOS ANGELES (CA, USA), 03/02/2010.- Los Angeles Lakers basketball player Kobe Bryant (L), chats with legendary US basketball player Jerry West, during the homage that Lakers paid Bryant for being the maximum scorer of the team's history, prior to the NBA basketball match played against Charlotte Bobcats in Los Angeles, California, USA, 03 February 2010. Lakers won 99-97.Can you imagine these two playing together?  Pretty scary thought for opposing defenses, no?

Right now, over at ESPN dot com you can choose your all time starting line up for every franchise in the NBA, including the Lakers.  Pretty neat stuff as it allows you to choose between great Lakers past and present to form the ultimate “Franchise Five” in the history of any organization.

For the Lakers, this is a bit of a tricky proposition.  Much like when we discussed the various championship teams in Laker history, there are plenty of great players to choose from who donned the Lakers’ uniform.  And the fact that you can only choose one starter for each position means that there are bound to be snubs.  I mean, at Center do you go with Kareem?  Shaq?  Wilt?  Mikan?  What about at Shooting Guard?  Is it the Logo that wins out or is it Kobe?  Every position is stocked with at least one hall of fame caliber player or a fantastic role player that was a major contributor to one (or more) championship.  What to do?

Well, for me, I chose the best team (at least from a statistical stand point) and ended up with this team:

Point Guard: Magic Johnson
Shooting Guard: Kobe Bryant
Small Forward: Elgin Baylor
Power Forward: Pau Gasol
Center: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Not a slouch in the group and a team that, based off voting, is the one that most other fans chose as well.

However, at the time of creating that team, I felt limited.  With all the discussion of late about the positional revolution and with the very real truth that when looking at players as great as the ones listed above that these guys could easily play a variety of positions on the court, my team started to change.  Now, suddenly, I had a team that looked like this:

Point Guard: Magic Johnson
Shooting Guard: Jerry West
Small Forward: Kobe Bryant
Power Forward: Elgin Baylor
Center: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

You’ll notice that Pau Gasol has been subbed out for (essentially) Jerry West.  Elgin slides up to “play” PF and we now have an undersized team that may have some trouble defending elite big men, but is also put together in a manner that takes advantage of Magic and West’s great ability to play uptempo basketball.  Could you imagine Kobe and Baylor filling the lane on a Magic led fast break with West running to the three point line and Kareem trailing the play to run a high P&R or just sliding down to the post to fire off sky hooks?  That’s a dangerous offensive outfit with enough defense and rebounding to also handle itself on the other side of the court. (On a side note, I used “play” when referencing Elgin as the PF because I actually think this team would have enough versatility to actually do whatever was needed in the half court.  Ideally, Kareem, Magic, and Kobe would be the the primary post up players with West being the spot up shooter/secondary creator of offense, and Elgin being another creator/slasher off the ball – similar to how James Worthy played for the Showtime teams.  And if all else failed, you could isolate whatever wing player had the big man on him and tell him to go get a bucket.  Considering all the offensive fire power in this group, that wouldn’t be too much of a problem.)

But, because the Lakers have so much talent in their franchise history, I thought why just stop at five players?  If I was going to build an entire team from past legendary figures that played for the Lakers, what would that team look like?  I’ve come to the conclusion that my twelve man roster would look like this:

Point Guard: Magic Johnson
Shooting Guard: Jerry West
Small Forward: Kobe Bryant
Power Forward: Elgin Baylor
Center: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
Bench: Pau Gasol
Bench: Shaquille O’neal
Bench: James Worthy
Bench: Michael Cooper
Bench: Derek Fisher
Bench: Jamaal Wilkes
Bench: Lamar Odom

Now, that is a team.  Offense, defense, size, shooting, leadership, versatility, role players, stars…that team has it all.  I know that I’ve left off some other greats (Mikan and Chamberlain come to mind instantly), but that’s a team that I think could defeat any on-comer.  But, I’m just one guy and my opinion – as much as I’d like it to be – isn’t the end of this argument.  So, let me know who you’d take as your top 5 and then, how would you round out the roster?  Remember, building a team isn’t necessarily about just stocking the most talent.  Obviously talent helps, but there’s still the question of how it all fits together as a cohesive unit.

Oh, and one last thing.  Coaching the team would be Phil Jackson.  With all apologies to Riles, I think this group would need some serious meditation time together to ensure that they were all on the same page.

Darius Soriano

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