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Sporting News Ranks Two Lakers Teams Amongst Best Ever

Yesterday on twitter I entertained a discussion about trading one of your favorite team’s championships to another one of your favorite teams in another sport. The discussion began with me reminiscing about how close the Oakland Raiders came to 3-peating during the same exact years that the Lakers 3-peated in the early 2000s. The Lakers ended up catching all the breaks that the Raiders didn’t and won three titles while the Raiders won none. So I wondered, would I trade any of the Lakers titles during my lifetime to the Raiders? A lot of followers said that they would definitely trade one title to another team, but I found it impossible to give up any of the Lakers titles because each was special.

Today, I came across Sporting News’ Top 10 NBA Teams Ever slide show and immediately realized how fortunate we are fortunate we are as Lakers fans. The list only featured six different franchises, and the two Lakers teams on the list (the 71-72 and 86-87 teams were #2 and #3, respectively) are teams that I didn’t even see play. I was born in 1987, so there have been seven Lakers championships since my birth, and only the one during the year of my birth made Sporting News’ Top 10 NBA Teams Ever list.

Although the 2011 Lakers went out in a disappointing fashion, seeing things like this really puts things in perspective. I know a lot of you are a tad bit older than I am, and can remember watching that 87 Lakers squad, and some of you can even claim to remember the 72 Lakers. Point is, we’ve seen some fantastic basketball over the years from the boys in Forum Blue and Gold. I would have loved for the Lakers to have brought home another title this year, but I’m appreciative that the Lakers have won more titles during my lifetime than the number of franchises included on that list.

Going through Lakers championship teams trying to decide whether or not I would forfeit one of their titles only brought an onslaught of memories for me. With all of that being said, what were some of your favorite Lakers teams and/or memories? Share your stories about the good times we’ve had over the years.

Reader Interactions


  1. I, like you Phillip, was born in 1987. While I have watched old tapes and DVDs about older Lakers teams and have great appreciation for the proud history and tradition of the franchise, the three-peat team will always be the closest to my heart. Mainly because they won the first championship I can remember witnessing.

    At the time, I didn’t appreciate it as much because of my relative youth and lack of perspective. But looking back now, the title they won in 2000 was extremely special. First championship since the Showtime days and Kobe and Shaq finally getting over the hump. I will never forget the comeback against Portland Game 7 as long as I live. I thought for certain the game was over…I think I even turned the TV off in frustration for a couple minutes at least. Until I turned it back on and saw B-Shaw start to nail some humungous threes. And then I started to believe. Of course, it all culminated in the epic alley oop from Kobe to Shaq, which still gives me goosebumps to this day. From that day forward, I never thought those three-peat Lakers were out of a game, no matter what the deficit, and I always believed they had a chance to come back.

    After they won that title in 2000, the LA area erupted in jubilation. Riots aside, the way Angelenos, usually cold and distant folk, came together was something to behold. I remember the multitude of Laker flags. The championship shirts. The greetings to random Lakers fans walking down the street. The pride displayed was truly awe inspiring. I think it’s what solidified my undying allegiance to the Los Angeles Lakers.

    I, too, am a long suffering Raiders fan. And a Dodgers fan. So I know what it’s like to go decades without a championships. It’s what makes me appreciate the Lakers tradition of winning even more. Let’s go get another one next year, boys.


  2. Man…born in ’87. I was 10 at that point.

    I don’t remember Magic’s first season, but I remember watching the Finals on my dad’s lap in ’82 (though I didn’t really understand anything other than we wanted the yellow guys to win).

    I’ve been alive for all of the Jerry Buss-era titles. Magic was, is, and likely will always be my favorite basketball player of all time.

    We are certainly very lucky as fans. We have had the best sports franchise in the US, and possibly the world, for the past 30+ years. I wouldn’t trade any of it for any of my other favorite teams (Niners got 5 titles in that same span).


  3. I’ve seen all of the championships and suffered the unimaginable heartbreak of the losses to the Celtics in the 60s. I am not a Shaq fan, I chose Kobe, but the 2001 finals team was one of the best. Shaq was awesome and averaged 30 ppg and Kobe averaged 29. They lost one game to Philly in overtime. 15 and 1.

    The 85 championship team was my favorite because they finally beat Boston and that’s also the reason that Magic will always be my favorite player with Kobe a close second.


  4. Even though they came up short, the 2009 Lakers squad is one of my favorites. The emotional high of seeing a team that no one thought would go that far come together was FANtastic.


  5. my parents didn’t permit any television during weeknights, and we didn’t have cable, so I didn’t so much *watch* the lakers as listen to Chick for several years.

    I’d say my favorite team is the current one. I felt like part of me died when the Celtics closed us out. To come back the next year and beat Orlando and then beat the Celtics was just tremendous.

    But next in line is the Sedale Threatt era team. I loved that team. After Magic’s soul-crushing retirement our youngsters gave me a lot of hope and they were pretty entertaining, exciting team in general, capable of beating a good team now and then and coming close to playoff upsets.


  6. Like Bigern, I have seen all the LA Laker championships. The one with Wilt and Jerry is my favorite, if only because I lived through the 60’s and the incredible losses.

    I am reminded of the Charlie Rose show the other night concerning Stan Musial, however. ‘Stan the Man’ was such a great player, but today I have to say he was a baseball player for a lot of fans. He was just good and today we demand our athletes to be controversial or we don’t either remember them or rate them high on our ‘greatness index’. Same goes for teams.


  7. I entered an LA sports radio show poem contest to try and win tickets to the first game of the 2010 OKC/LA playoffs. They had the 3 finalists read our poems on air. I came in second or third. Mrs. p says I was robbed.

    Started back in 62
    A lifelong fan of Forum Blue

    Bridesmaids for all the sixties
    I’m sure Rick Fox
    Recalls the Christies

    We had Happy, Mac, and Riles, and Mel
    Don’t forget Nicky Van Exel
    And all the different Space Cadets
    Amazing triangulating Tex

    I watched Magic kiss Isiah’s cheek
    But the real Zeke came from Cabin Creek

    We had a little speedster by the name of Gail
    And a bruiser that delivered mail
    A kid called Buck and Big Game James
    And Silk and Wilt and Cazzie names

    Many Joneses, many Grants
    And even one lanky Stuart Lantz

    Pargo, Parker, Peeler, Perkins
    Chucky, Zelmo, Nate, and Connie
    Hot Rod, Boo, and Medvedenko
    Coop, Brickowski, and the Big O

    I skipped some names
    But I love them all
    The thing I miss the most
    Is Chick Hearns call


  8. Every championship has been unique and special. I honestly enjoyed the 2010 title as much or more than any of them, it just meant so much for so many reasons.

    That said:

    – the ’86-’87 team was the greatest team I’ve ever seen take the floor. They were just unbelievable – fast, huge, experienced, driven, with the greatest point guard of all time at his peak, their equally GOAT captain at center still performing at a high level, a third option at “small” forward (6’9″) who was also one of the 50 greatest players ever, the DPOY coming off the bench, and tremendous talent at the 2, 4, and backup 4-5. That was the only time that I had zero doubt that the team would win the championship, all season long.

    – and the only thing that matched that dominance was the playoff run of 2001. That was as unbeatable as I’ve ever seen any team look for a two month period, and they in fact only lost once, in overtime, because an opponent (the league MVP that year) went absolutely out of his mind for one game.


  9. @8 – very excellent – you even got Slava in there. Nice.

    As another from a differenet era, I’d say the earlier Lakers (and other teams) were analog as opposed to digital. Just a different feel back then, lower, sometimes slower, usually harder. It was fun, like wearing out the grooves on vinyl, played on a Garrard turntable, plugged into some crappy amplifier.


  10. Been a Laker fan since 1969 after the bouncing ball debacle by Nell against the mighty Celtics, I watched that game in a military base in the Philippines. From that time I followed the Lakers on small clips at the back page of our Sports page, from GI magazines about professional basketball. I think we are more familiar with the Harlem Globetrotters who visited Phils. once a year than the NBA players. However, the standard of any basketball league was set up by the NBA. Finally, in 1972 Jerry West and Wilt got their rings except for the phenom, Elgin who retired early.

    With regards to Chapter 2, the decibels have been raised during the Showtime era. I believe the all the Championship years that started in ’80 and ended b2b in ’88 are the greatest of all times. This has been the highlight of my own fandom about the Lakers. we think and live with the games everyday for the duration of every playoff, our daily schedules were re-arranged with Laker games, can’t sleep if they lost and have buoyant feeling when they’re victorious, bought all newspapers available at 7/11 just to read and re-read the results or see what Jim Murray say or Scott Osler. Ironically, qur moods were tied up with the results of the Laker games. Such fan”demonium” was raised to an unprecedented level by the late Chicky-baby, who I consider the equivalent of Winston Churchill in WW II.


  11. Born in 1977…

    .. typing that made me depressed looking at how young you all are…

    My favorite has been the most recent one. The reason it is my favorite is because it was over the Celtics who basically beat the same team two years ago, and because it was the second in the internet age where I could get so much more information throughout the season.

    Prior to 2004 or so, there really wasn’t this much information on the web, certainly not as many video breakdowns and all the interesting blogs and what not. Those things enhanced my understanding of the game to such a degree that I could appreciate things more as things unfolded.


  12. seeing as i was only following the last 2 championships i would say the 2010 one was more amazing and the hated celtics made it even sweeter.though, i feel bad that kobe started going 2 the finals as the man at the time that his athletisism was fading and he became more jump shot reliant and i have no doubt that had kobe was in his athletic prime no celtic defense would have be able to stop him.


  13. I’m a Lakers fan since 1980 (born in 64 btw), Eddie Jordan, Jamaal Wilkes. Then we got Bob McAdoo, wow…Then 82 we got James Worthy…83 we got Byron Scott and it was getting good…In 85, we got AC Green and we could feel that something good was about to happen.

    But in 86, not because of Wes Matthews or Mychal Thompson, but that team is, in my opinion, the best NBA team of all times. We all still remember the names of Magic, Kareem, Cooper, Worthy, Scott, Thompson, AC Green…Those guys becam legends.

    Because of the 86-87 Lakers.



  14. 85′ Lakers are the nba best team ever
    Kareem, still dangerous
    Magic starting his career peak
    Worthy coming on age
    outside shooting: Scott Cooper Mcgee
    wilkes and mcadoo still on board
    rambis and Kupchak banging in the paint. Larry Spriggs.

    great defense. 11 men rotation.

    best team ever.


  15. I’m a young one, born in 84, and didn’t start watching basketball until Nick Van Exel and Eddie Jones captivated me. So… did not see the older championships.

    The most recent one is the best in my life time. The 00-02 threepeat I was too young to really understand the struggle to get to the top (even though those guys did struggle). But, the 08 defeat and 09 title-but-didn’t-get-to-beat-Boston culminates into the cathartic game7 in 2010 for me… one iconic image begets another one: Kobe walking out of the Garden with confetti behind him in ’08, Celtics celebrating in the background… and Kobe standing on the scorer’s table in ’10, with confetti yet again, celebrating having defeated those same Celtics.

    To draw a religious analogy, I feel like I was finally baptized with a taste of the BOS-LAL rivalry after having believed for so long.

    PS. Like I was saying. For those who says we didn’t show in ’86, Boston didn’t show in ’09..


  16. My favourite player is Mr Bean with yards away.Magic is second than Kareem than Byron Scott.


  17. Having the Pistons in that list just isn’t right… While they were a good team and won it with extreme defense (extreme being another word for hitting anything that moves) I would bump them out and insert the 2001 Lakers at the middle. They can only go at the middle because the regular season was not as good as it could’ve been. Yes, it was the greatest playoff juggernaut of them all, but the ’96 Bulls are remembered for a title and 72 wins, not their playoff mark.


  18. 9. Craig W.,

    Great link. Thanks for posting it. The thing that I loved about it the most is that he made his analysis based on what he actually saw and regular stats. Yes, there is value in advanced statistics (PER not being one of them imo, since Hollinger adjusts the stats to prove his points and does not measure defense) but without actually seeing the game and having knowledge of the game and its tatics, all that is said about it is void…


  19. The 1985 champion was the deepest Laker team ever. Mike McGee was the fourth guard who only played a few minutes per game, but even he was amazing. Larry Spriggs was a Matt Barnes-type player, and he was the team’s 10th man. Jamaal Wilkes was the 11th man!

    The 1987 champion played the most beautiful basketball I’ve ever seen. This was the season where the leadership torch was gracefully passed from Kareem to Magic before the season started.

    The 2001 champion would have gone undefeated through the playoffs, but the guys were rusty after a 10 or 12-day layoff, but still would have won if Robert Horry (RIP Ashlyn) hadn’t committed the dumbest offensive foul I’ve ever seen (5-pt lead with 2 minutes left in OT, team pulling away from the Sixers, and had just gotten a stop). He decided it was time to get even for an uncalled foul that Tyrone Hill committed earlier, and threw an elbow right in front of the ref when the Lakers were walking the ball up the court.

    The sweetest victories for me were 1972 (first LA title), 1985 (first defeat of Boston), 2009 (first Kobe-Pau-LO title), and 2010 (revenge for 2008).


  20. You know what’s more impressive than a regular season record?

    A post-season record.


  21. Dude,
    The thing about 85 was that it was in 6 games on the Celtics home floor – only time that has happened to them – oooooooh, yeah!


  22. My favorite team was the 07-08 Lakers. After the Gasol trade I thought they played beautiful, team oriented basketball. They were basically a much better version of this year’s Mavericks team. Too bad Sasha’s game imploded in the finals and they ran into an all-time team in terms of grit and defense.

    And by the way the answer is absolutely not, Dallas would not have beaten the 08 Celtics. I don’t even think last years Lakers team beats the 08 Celtics.


  23. 25,
    Your favorite team was one that started both Fish and VladRad? No team should be your favorite when they start the worst PG amd worst SF in the NBA. That should be a rule.


  24. Archon,
    That team actually came quite close to beating the Celtics – you are giving too much weight to game 6, and not looking closely at the other games. Last year’s Lakers would almost certainly defeat the 2007-8 Celtics.


  25. I seem to remember Kareem actually cracking a very big smile as the clock ran out on game 6 in ’85 …


  26. Hey FB&G. Long time no talk. Just wanted to stop through to say something real quick. I used to always propose the thought of having SoCal’s own, Nick Young in a Lakers uniform. So glad that there’s at least talk about it on ESPN LA. That would make next season for me if it happened. Sorry I’m off topic just had to get that out. Take care to all the regulars. To those who remember I’m in the Air Force, I’m about to go to the desert for my second tour. Wish me luck!