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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to My All Time Lakers Team

  1. Subbing out Pau for Jerry was the perfect move . . . this team would run other teams into the ground . . no one shorter than 6’4″ . . . could probably beat the NBA’s All-Time Great list! ooh . . article idea!!!!


  2. No Gail Goodrich? He’s one of the most underrated lakers of all time.


  3. #2. Bob,
    I went with Fisher over Goodrich. Believe me, no one appreciates a great lefty guard as much as me (the fact that Goodrich, Fisher, and Van Exel were all candidates almost made my head explode). But in the end, I went with Fish for his leadership, 5 championships (and counting), and his long tenure with the team. Gail is definitely a snub, but I felt that Fisher – in more of a role player capacity – was the better fit.


  4. Yeah, you gotta include Goodrich in that bench!


  5. Goodrich led the lakers in scoring for many years in the early seventies, including the 71-72 monster season. Drop fish, put in Goodrich and you have the beat squad ever!


  6. No Wilt?????


  7. No “Big Game James” Worthy???


  8. #6 and #7. Carl,
    I went with Shaq over Wilt on the bench. Worthy is on the team, but on the bench. James, as great of a big game player as he was, just can’t crack my top 5 in Lakers history. He’s clearly behind Kobe and Baylor.


  9. Once human cloning becomes routine, I’ll go with five Magic Johnsons!


  10. I’m a huge believer in Fish’s intangibles, but I’d sub him out and put in Norm Nixon instead. Norm could play either back court position, his jumper was more lethal. He could also penetrate and defend. Norm also came up with some big shots during his championship years. Before his knee injury, Norm was very quick, it’d be great to bring that kind of shooter slasher off the bench since that’s what the roster is missing.

    Although Coop played SG a lot, his handles weren’t quite good enough to be that slasher.

    Goodrich vs Wilkes, I’d also have to think hard on. Both were so very underrated and great clutch role payers with well rounded games. I’d probably opt for Wilkes in this situation because Gail is smaller and it would give the team a little more versatility in the SF/SG wing positions.

    Especially if Norm is swapped out for Derek. That gives the backcourt lots of versatility in defending most types of guards. Wilkes, Worthy and Coop gives you the wing versatility. Speaking exclusively from a bench standpoint that is.


  11. I like Nixon in place of Fisher too, but it’s a tight three-way race between those two and Byron Scott, all things considered.

    And I think a Magic/Kobe/Baylor/Odom/Gasol lineup beats 5 Magics. Just saying.


  12. ^^^ yes! our 2010 team would be 5 magics for that matter


  13. @11, JB, I like Byron but I don’t think he can compare to Nixon in this situation. He can’t drive and create as well as Nixon. Although I think he catches and shoots better.

    The primary reason I gave Nixon the edge was because he could shoot and slash along with the D.

    Sadly that was one aspect of Scott’s game that hurt the Lakers in the 91 loss to the Bulls. Paxson just face guarded and stuck to Byron, shutting him down for the first few games of the series. Scott really needed to be more aggressive driving to the hole in that series.


  14. Team is nice, but Goodrich would have had no problem being a roleplayer. He was definitely one of those whatever the role the team needs I will do. But the big mistake is no Wilt. Shaq was as dominate as they come, but Wilt (the best player ever in my opinion) would do whatever you asked. He lead the league in assist because people called in a bag hog. They actually changed several rules to try to slow him down. And even if you feel Shaq would give you more scoring Wilt was a guy that would go after every rebound. On the team you have you want someone getting the ball out on the break. And if you give him a coach like Phil Jackson that defines his role, watch out. I love your team but Wilt has to be on it.


  15. Ok so i don’t want to speak blasphemy but i was watching some videos of baylor and i got carried away and kept watch videos of the lakers celtics 60’s – 70’s. I noticed the players don’t seems to be good ball handlers, baylor seems to dribble with his back bent over more, i feel the defensive guys of today like ron ron would own him. Im sure if he played today he would adjust but I really don’t think players from back then could hold their own with players of this later generation.

    Basketball has evolved a lot with the advanced defenses, better defensive pressure and just with time more ideas and knowledge come to players. Even tho those older players were the best of their time and have great stats in their days i don’t think they could play that same way in the league today. Has anyone else ever had this idea or am i just crazy?


  16. Read Bill Simmons’s “Book of Basketball” and in one of his last chapters he has what he calls the Wine Cellar. Where people talk about their favorite players.

    He constructed his ultimate team not based off upon just the players but the perspective years that they were their best or best served for this specific team.

    Like would you want supporting star 00′ Kobe or 2006/2007′ ultimate scoring champ Kobe and continue constructing your team etc.

    Was an excellent read!

    Something to consider for the ultimate Lakers team and how to build it.


  17. I like substituting Nixon for Fisher also. I would also like to have Wilt on the team, as he was a shot blocking machine as well as a prolific scorer. Could a more youthful Wilt (yes, I know that he wasn’t a Laker as a younger player) play at PF? What a smashmouth team that would make!


  18. I think I’d start Pau over Baylor. Let’s not forget that he runs the floor as well as any big man you can find, and imagine driving the lane and trying to score over him and Kareem.


  19. Wilt could certainly be on there, surprised he’s not at least on the bench next to Shaq.


  20. It’s a tough write up because everyone has different idea of best Laker. I guess Darius went with strictly how much they contributed as a Laker player. It really makes sense to have Fisher over Norm or even Byron or Gail though they were all better than Derek. If we went with best players regardless of the number of years played for LA, then Wilt, Gail, and Karl Malone would have to be included, Mikan too.


  21. If you could have players that played for the Lakers in their prime (regardless of when they played for the Lakers) then you would have to have Malone on the team. He would be deadly in the open court with Magic. Imagine, Magic on the break with west going to the 3 pt line with Kobe and Malone coming from the wings. That would be pretty scary considering Malone was the best running PF ever. Plus the idea of Malone/Kareem front court is a little ridiculous.


  22. I think the best starting five (in the positions listed on the espn site) would be: Magic, Kobe, Elgin, Pau, and Shaq. My reasoning for putting Shaq in over Kareem is post domination. With Pau, you already have a skilled big man who does everything well, and would be well suited to team up with Shaq. Can you imagine a high post/low post combo of Pau and Shaq? Amazing. Now imagine that combo with Kobe and/or Elgin slashing from the weakside. Unstoppable. Pair that with Magic running the break with Kobe and Elgin streaking and a trailing Pau and the offense would be a thing of beauty. Defensively, Shaq would control the paint by himself, leaving Kobe and Elgin free to press and gamble, leading to even more fast breaks. Yes, I can picture that squad now….


  23. SL: magic, cooper, kobe, gasol, kareem
    2nd unit: west, scott, worthy, elgin, wilt.
    situational players/taco unit: fisher, artest, horry, rambis, vlade

    I’m being terribly subjective, and a lot of superior players have been excluded. I think it’s important to balance scoring ability with all-around skill and defensive prowess–namely guys who can contribute without requiring the ball. that’s why I opted for Gasol and Cooper in the starting lineup.

    I’ve populated the end of the bench with guys with versatility, guts, and smarts. I’m a firm believer no team can do without good role players, and these guys have all the intangibles.


  24. You know what is the worst thing about the “build the greatest xxxx team” is all the fans of teams like Memphis and Twolves. I can’t imagine how you could go making the Lakers, Celtics, Knicks, Sixers to making the Bobcats or Grizzlies. It is not meant to be an insult, but teams with no history or just a string of bad GMs (sorry Clipper fans) it has to be somewhat depressing. Kind of like a further reminder that their team will never be that good. I am hoping this trend of good players like CP3 leaving teams ends soon.


  25. Magic, West, Bryant, Kareem, Wilt would beat 5 best non Lakers: Oscar, Jordan, Bird, Duncan, Russell(West guards Oscar, Bryant guards Jordan, Magic guards Bird, Wilt shuts down Duncan). We bring Shaq off the bench to wreak havoc in the post, and Baylor for scoring on the wing. Of the 12 greatest player ever, 7 are Lakers. We only play our top 7 as they can play multiple positions, playing about 35 minutes each. All time Lakers beat all time non Lakers. Round out the bench with Mikan, Gasol, Worthy, Goodrich, and Cooper.


  26. PG: Magic Johnson. I don’t think there’s an argument.
    SG: Kobe or Jerry West, but I’d give it to Jerry because…
    SF: Kobe can play here and I don’t think there’s a better 2-3 option than Jerry and Kobe.
    PF: This goes to Pau because it’s size and length that matters. Pau being good enough to guard 5s in a pinch and good enough to lead a break every now and then doesn’t hurt, either.
    C: I go with Shaq. As much as I like Kareem, I just think he’d be having too much fun with Magic and flat out dominate. His defensive deficiencies will be covered by Pau to some extent, and really, we have so much skill on this team that we need some power.

    I have been playing around with the ESPN thing, and it really fascinates me that we have probably the best Centers of all time, while PHX, on the other hand is just full of PGs of all time (KJ, Kidd, Nash…). Funny how certain franchises seem to depend on a certain position.


  27. Between Shaq and Wilt there is really no contest. Wilt was so much more dominant and versatile. Let me know when you think Shaq could out-rebound or out-assist Wilt – then let me know what world you live in.

    As for scoring, Wilt was more like Ray Lewis and Shaq like Randy Moss. I, personally, would much rather have Ray Lewis – or Jim Brown.


  28. Norm Nixon for Derek, Wilt for Shaq. Wilt would have eaten him up.


  29. I would start Kobe, Coop, Odom, Kareem, and Wilt. No one is scoring on that squad.


  30. Zephid, Durant would if he were to play PF.


  31. Kobe’s comments about how basketball has changed places a lot of weight on the team I would pick.

    Lakers 5 against all-time 5, I put Pau on there. Can’t think of a historically great PF that can counter what Pau can do on offense.


  32. Neither KAJ nor Wilt could stop Shaq in his three-peat prime. And I say this as a bigger fan of those two. He’s definitely starting in the middle on my five. Magic, Jerry, Kobe, Elgin & Shaq would demolish every team in their way.


    As much as I loved him when he played, Karl Malone is a Jazz legend. Just because he played for us in the last year of his career doesn’t make him a Laker, even for this particular fantasy exercise.


  33. Wilt at PF!! He was easily athletic enough to do that. Kareem’s outside game would complement Wilt’s inside game very well, and Wilt was an exceptional passer – you could easily run the offense through him.


  34. As others have either pointed out, or alluded to, I think what Baylor did was great for his day while today it is a bit under-par. The competition he was playing against was less athletic and their systems less advanced. Considering Pau’s passig ability, ball-handling, his length, and his length, and his length, I go with Pau at PF. Magic at 6’9″, West at 6’4″, Kobe at 6’7″, Pau at 7′ and Shaq at 7’1″, this team’s D would be very hard to score on. You might not even need to stick Magic on a SF seeing as all that size would disrupt teams as a unit. Plus, I think pounding teams with Shaq and running on every rebound would be devastating. That is where I bring Kareem in to do what LO does for the current squad. Another long body but this guy is able to score on you in the post in ways almost diametrically opposed to Shaq’s. Cap was an excellent passer as well. When Magic sits I want West to handle the ball and Kobe handles it when both those guys are resting. I like Mycheal Thompson to as he was a shut down defender at the 4 and could score with the best of them. Give me Worthy and Coop for their high-flying and defense. The reason I put Wilt so far down on the depth chart is that I buy into Simmons’ take on Wilt and his basketball values. I trust him to achieve a stat that he thinks no one will best but not to make that hard foul at the end of a game if it’s his 6th. I definitely think that any match-up a Lakers all-time team would have against the rest of the NBA greats would have lots of fouls called.

    Depth Chart
    PG- Magic, West, Kobe
    SG- West, Kobe, Coop
    SF- Kobe, Worthy, Baylor
    PF- Pau, Kareem, Thompson, Baylor
    C- Shaq, Kareem, Wilt

    All-NBA (minus Lakers)

    PG- LBJ, Oscar, Kidd
    SG- Jordan, Durrant
    SF- Bird, Pippin, Durrant (I know, but you’ll see)
    PF- Russell, Duncan, McHale
    C- Olajuwan, Russell, Walton

    Probably need to think about the All-NBA team with a book in front of my but that’s in from the top of my head.


  35. Jeez that’s an incredible squad…especially when you have to leave guys like Wilt, Goodrich, Nixon, Green, Scott, etc., off the 12-man roster.

    I agree with the picks…although I think when all is said and done and we’re looking back a decade from now, Gasol will be an easy choice for the starting 5. I think Wilt has the defensive edge on Shaq, but it’s tough to ignore what Shaq did in his prime. Kareem is an easy pick as the top center.

    Also good call having Jamaal on there…I still have no idea why he’s not in the Hall of Fame.

    Off-topic, but I just watched game 7 of last year’s Finals again and 2 things struck me. (1) especially in light of the FIBA championships – there’s no way the Lakers win that game without Lamar, the entire tone of the contest shifted the minute he came into the game (Lakers down 12) in the 3rd quarter. And (2) this isn’t breaking news, but P. Jackson is a pretty cool customer. He was just ice in every one of the huddles. Contrast that with a coach like, say, Stan Van Gundy, in a game like that.


  36. Darius,
    Wow… I have to be the one to say this… it is only right…. Fisher on the bench? I mean he is used to coming off the bench as he backed up Nick Van Exel, Ron Harper, Speedy Claxton, and Deron Williams in his career… but as the Lakers 2nd best PG of all time? This is getting a little nuts. Even Fisher wouldn’t pick him.


  37. P. Ami,
    Following Simmons and his stats huh? Well, if you are going strictly by stats you can’t really say Shaq could/would outscore Wilt. If you saw Wilt in the early 60s, you wouldn’t say that either. Also, Wilt came out of those games with red welts over his body on many nights – it was rough playing down in the paint. Shaq would be taking as much as he dishes out and I wonder how he would deal with that? Wilt, as a track and field competitor, volleyball competitor, and basketball player was just too versatile in his youth. Shaq never faced anyone with that wide a skill set – even Hakeem Olajuwon – and he would have his hands full. Even if they were equal in passing ability Wilt would have simply dominated the boards against Shaq. Sorry, I simply couldn’t start Shaq ahead of Wilt.


  38. Here’s my all time Laker lineup.

    PG: Magic
    SG: West
    SF: Kobe
    PF: Kareem/Wilt
    C: Shaq


    Kobe will be the primary scorer on the wing, as the one thing Kobe has that West doesn’t is the athleticism to finish at the rim over the Dwight Howards of the world, where I doubt that West could not. He’d also be our go-to guy in the clutch.

    Assuming that in an all-time team, we have West’s skill set against modern NBA players as well as old legends, in this scenario, I envision West to be an uber-Steve Kerr/John Paxon/Jeff Hornacek who can help space the floor to allow Kobe to penetrate, knocking down dagger threes. If Kobe isnt hitting those clutch shots, then West can play the Derek Fisher role, hitting those tough, gritty shots that he somehow makes. He’d also be tough and agile enough to play those speedy, quick AI-types.

    You’d bring Nixon off the bench to be the super-quick guy that can blow by defenders.

    Goodrich would be an extra shooter and be the uber-Sasha Vujacic of this all time Laker team.

    Magic, of course, will be the main distributor on offense, and will likely end up guarding whichever Forward that would be too big for Kobe to handle or too quick for the Laker centers.

    You would bring Worthy and Baylor off the bench as ‘energy guys’ who can make athletic plays and keep up the tempo when the starters are resting (only on the Lakers would Worthy and Baylor ever be considered ‘energy guys’) and be perfect in a fast-paced game.

    Personally, i’d go with a twin Tower effect with either Kareem or Wilt depending on the opponent at the PF, as they have a skill set that would enable them to play that position.

    Pau would be a more a situational guy to come off the bench and play a Luke Walton type role. If the bench needs to play a half court game and you need someone to make good decisions in the post, he’s your guy.

    You’ve got to start Shaq at Center, because there will be times when you need his pure, brute strength to place whatever bigman the other all-time great teams can field into quick foul trouble and wear them down physically, which would only enhance a Laker twin-tower effect.

    I actually think Lamar Odom could make an ideal 12th man on this team, as he can provide a great skill set and he’s an excellent chemistry guy who’ll put the team first and cheer on the team from the sidelines. There’s a reason why Lamar was on Team USA twice without ever having been named to an All-Star team.

    Teams that might give the all-time Lakers trouble in a 7 game series:

    Celtics (no brainer): The Celtics can exploit the Lakers’ biggest traditional weakness; defending super-quick pgs, and they can do this with a Bob Cousy/Tiny Archibald combo. Magic and Bird will cancel each other out. The Celtics also have the Centers to match up with the Laker bigs with Russell, Parish and Cowens. The Celtics, however, have another relative weakness that the Lakers share, which is the lack of a truly great traditional PF of the likes of Malone or Duncan. The only problem the Celtics might really have is at the 2 spot when trying to match up with Kobe, though I wouldn’t underestimate Havlicek.


    They could give the Lakers problems as they have Moses Malone and a prime Wilt that can compete with a Laker Twin Tower attack. Plus, they have a super-quick guard that traditionally always gives the Lakers problems in AI. They’ve also got the Doctor whose got size and athleticsm advantage on Kobe, while having quickness adv on Magic. Plus, they have those Eddie House types off the bench like Andrew Toney who could give the Lakers fix. Plus, the sixers have a great energy guy in Barkley. They’ll probably have no true point guard, as they could have someone like Hal Greer start opposite Iverson.

    Houston Rockets:

    The Rockets could use a rather decent Twin-Tower effect of their own in Olajuwon and Moses Malone, and you could add Ralph Sampson into the mix, while they have a decent 2 in Drexler that can hold his ground vs Kobe, and have all sorts of irritating, intagible guys like Rudy Tomjanovich, Vernon Maxwell and Horry. Would also be fun seeing Kenny Smith and Charles Barkley do their thing on a all-time Rockets team ala NBA on TNT.

    It’ll be 2009 WCSF all over again.

    Bulls: They have an indominable Jordan Pippen combo, but aside from Artis Gilmore the Bulls are too small inside with Grant and Rodman. Still, Jordan might be great enough alone to win a couple of games vs an all-time Laker team.

    Jazz: I think they’ll be eliminated in the semis in about 5 games by the Lakers just like they’re real life contemporary counterparts. Hard working, gritty, but undersized.


  39. PG – 6’9″ Magic Johnson (guarding opponent’s SF)

    SG – 6’4″ Jerry West (guarding opponent’s PG)

    SF – 6’6″ Kobe Bryant (guarding opponent’s SG)

    PF – 7’2″ Kareem A. Jabbar (could he outrun Pau in his early years..??? coz Magic needs a PF that could run, for his fastbreaks… i only saw Kareem when he was in his mid to late 30s…)

    C – 7’1″ Wilt Chamberlain (who was more dominant, Wilt or Shaq..??? i didn’t really see Wilt play…)


  40. All time, fluid positional Laker team?

    PG: Magic
    SG: West
    SF: Kobe
    PF: Gasol
    C: Kareem

    As great as Baylor was, and he was GREAT, all of my guys have at least one title. Having been there matters.

    The only other squad that would have a chance against the Lakers is, not surprisingly, Boston.

    PG: Cousy
    SG: Johnson
    SF: Bird
    PF: McHale
    C: Russell

    Now THAT would be a series. I honestly have no idea who would win. I lean towards the Lakers, because having 3 of the arguable 5 greatest players of all time is nothing to sneeze at, but Russell and Bird on the same team would scare the sweet bejeezus out of anyone…


  41. How about a dynamic team of:

    * G – Jerry West
    * G – Kobe Bryant
    * SF – Magic Johnson
    * PF – Pau Gasol
    * C – Kareem A. Jabbar

    Pick any seven for the bench – it doesn’t really matter as they won’t play that much anyway.


  42. PG- Magic, Fisher, Goodrich
    SG- Kobe, West
    SF- Baylor, Worthy
    PF- Pau, Lamar, Horry
    C- Kareem, Shaq

    Assumes you get the best of each players years WITH the Lakers. Otherwise, you have to put Gary Payton and Malone on there.

    I choose big game James, Horry, and DFish over other good or maybe even more talented candidates because of their clutch genes.

    Pau is there for versatility. To me with Pau, Shaq, and Kareem, there wouldn’t be any minutes for Wilt anyways, so I was able to give his spot to Robert Horry. If you’re setting up that final play against the all-time rest-of-the-NBA team, you gotta toss Horry onto the court!


  43. It is too bad you youngsters didn’t see Wilt play, game in and game out. You just don’t realize…

    Besides he was closer to 7’3″ than 7’1″.

    The only center close to Wilt in talent and flexibility is Kareem. I’m sorry, Shaq isn’t in the conversation. He could have been, but he didn’t develop his skill set enough – he had it in him to be the greatest.


  44. @#43 Craig, I think people underestimate how strong Wilt was. I doubt if he would be overwhelmed by Shaq’s strength. Challenged yes, but he’d be dishing it back pretty bad too.

    Furthermore, if we’re looking at how players fit and positional fluidity, Wilt has a much more rounded game and actually was willing to scale back his scoring and do what was needed for the team.

    In a lot of ways, Shaq was a one trick pony. A great one trick but limited. He actually showed a more developed game in college and first couple of years I thought but regressed after that.

    I don’t even place Shaq in my top 3 centers of all time so Wilt would have to go on this hypothetical Laker team ahead of Shaq for me.

    As for comparing players of different eras, since this is always for fun and hypothetical anyway, I always just consider how each player did in their era and relative excellence and talent advantage compared to their peers.

    Athletes get better everyday. For the purpose of this exercise, it’s just easier to just translate how well a player did in his time and go from there instead of going the route of today’s athletes are automatically better.


  45. PG: Magic Johnson
    SG: Kobe Bryant
    SF: Ron Artest
    PF: Pau Gasol
    C: Shaq O’neal

    Jerry West
    Elgin Baylor
    James Worthy
    Kareem Abdul Jabbar
    Wilt Chamberlain
    Derek Fisher
    Ronnie Turiaf

    Coach: Phil Jackson

    You’re lineups are great but since i love DEFENSE, i got this lineup. Just imagine how anybody could make a shot against kobe and ronron on the perimeter and Pau and Shaq both in the paint. Another reason why i picked this lineup is because of the triangle offense where 4 of 5 know how to run the system and magic is just too good for any other pg’s. LOL at turiaf but gotta love to see him jumping from the bench.

    PS: imagine how funny this team would be together with shaq and ronron (turiaf as well!) doing their comic acts during on-off the game. HAHAHA


  46. These are all classic barstool arguments, but in the end you can’t go wrong with any choice made when the caliber of player is as high as we’re discussing. I mean, Shaq or Wilt? Either is a fantastic option.

    In general, I went with the player that had the best career as a Laker for my list. So yeah, Shaq and his major contributions to three consecutive title teams and his three Finals MVP awards got the nod. Fisher and his contributions to 5 championship teams- including some major clutch shots, leadership, etc – got the nod over Goodrich and Nixon. And Michael Cooper with his DPOY award (and stellar defense over his career) and 5 championships, got the nod over Scott. I picked Wilkes because I wanted another fantastic forward that could score and rebound and despite the Lakers overflow of talent in their history, not too many of those guys actually exist.

    Really, if I was building the most *talented* team, regardless of contributions as a Laker I’d go with these guys:

    Magic, West, Kareem, Kobe, Baylor, Wilt, Shaq, Mikan, Worthy, Goodrich, Gasol, and Wilkes.

    That’s a 12 man team of fantastic talent and versatility. Can’t go wrong with that group. But I wanted more balance and actually wanted to build a team. So, role players like Cooper, Fisher, and Odom got the nod over legends and HOF’ers like Goodrich, Wilt, and Mikan. That’s how it goes when your cup runneth over with talent. You can take lesser talented players and still have the best *team*. And really, look at the 2010 Lakers and you’ll see exactly what I mean (where guys like Fisher make major contributions even though a more talented player is available).


  47. Here’s the thing. If assembling these teams were somehow magically made possible for some magical tournament for the ages. like legitimately with rules and everything.

    Don’t you think that one of the rules would be that the Laker team would get 1969-73 Wilt and not “prime” Wilt. That Wilt would go to the Sixers.

    So the question is do you want 69-73 Wilt or 00-02 Shaq?


  48. There was a good article on the Bleacher Report recently that had the all-time Lakers vs. the all-time Celtics:

    Do have to agree with folks here saying Goodrich (the leading scorer on LA’s best team) is too good to leave off.


  49. Craig, assuming we’re talking about players when they were Lakers, then prime Shaq was better than old Wilt, even if it isn’t by a wide margin.

    Nabil, why do you need clutch players when you already have West, Kobe, Magic, and Worthy on the team?

    Players I’d pick ahead of Fisher: Goodrich, Eddie Jones, Norm Nixon, and Scott. This team doesn’t need the leadership and intangibles of Fisher. It’s got plenty of that. Talent would be better. Or production, which leads me to guys I’d pick ahead of Odom: Wilt, Vlade, and McAdoo. I’d also think long and hard about Sam Perkins and Elmore Smith.

    Alright, maybe I’m stretching it a bit to make a point, but I do think that there’s a bit of ‘primacy effect’ going on here, where it’s easiest to recall the players we’ve seen most recently.

    Fisher is a fine player who fills a very specific role with this team, but there is absolutely no way he’s better or more valuable than Goodrich, who was an all NBA first team selection, 5 time all-star, and led the 69 win 1972 champions in scoring (with West and Wilt on the roster). Norm Nixon was an all star who led the league in steals and was third in assists one year, while Fisher has been a marginal starter and back-up his entire career. Does anybody remember Eddie Jones any more?

    And would you really want Odom over a ’69 Wilt, with his 20 points and 21(!) rebounds, or even the ’73 Wilt with 13 points, 19 rebounds, while shooting 73% (!) from the field?

    Personally, I would be sorely tempted to go just huge, because that’s the one thing that no other team could hope to counter. Something like:


    Philly (Wilt, Moses, Barkley), Boston (Russel, McHale, Cowens), and Houston (Olajuwon, Moses, Yao) can go three deep on the front line, but no other team can hope to go six deep. Hell, we’ve got four of the top ten centers of all time, and no other team has two. Our current team should be a clue that size matters in the NBA. I’d also be tempted to replace Wilkes (one of my all time favorite players) with a defensive stopper, such as Eddie Jones or Elmore Smith, who was part of the Kareem trade and averaged 5 blocks per game one year.

    The embarrassment of riches is quite ridiculous. We have three positions filled by legit first or second best of all time at that position (PG, SG, C), and every position with a top ten of all time player at that position.


  50. All time 76’s starting 5 pretty damn good.

    Cheeks, Iverson, Erving, Barkley, Wilt

    I like that team over the Celtics.

    But if you’re starting a full roster, then the nod goes to the Lakers of course. Heck, make it a 15 man roster as allowed by NBA rules.

    PG- Magic, Fisher, Goodrich
    SG- Kobe, West, Wilkes
    SF- Baylor, Worthy, Cooper
    PF- Pau, Lamar, Horry
    C- Kareem, Shaq, Wilt

    game. set. match.


  51. Oh, and the other interesting thing about this is that next year Miami will be able to have pretty nice starting five of the Super Friends with Alonzo Mourning and Timmy Hardaway.


  52. I would definitely go with a twin tower combination of Kareem and Wilt. Kobe and West are somewhat redundant but if you are going to have Kareem and Wilt, then you need to have two shooters, and both can hit from anywhere on the court making it so much harder to defend especially with Magic’s incredible court vision.

    For the bench, I understand the attraction of a Derek Fisher but if you are going with intangible and big time shots off the bench then I would take Horry over Fisher (also because Horry brings defense and is a much better passer in the half court, especially dumping the ball into the post).


  53. Just throwing this out there but how about:

    Point: Magic
    Shooting: Kobe
    Small: Elgin
    Power: Kareem
    Center: Shaq

    Am I wrong in thinking that Kareem could play forward and effectively make our current 7′ duo totally inferior?