Los Angeles Lakers Mount Rushmore
Updated: May 12, 2020
OTG Basketball presents, NBA Mount Rushmore, where we look at who belongs on the Mount Rushmore of each team in the league. Up next, is the Los Angeles Lakers.
There are so many names that could be on the Los Angeles Lakers’ Mount Rushmore. As one of the oldest franchises, the Lakers have featured greats across every decade, and many of them will get snubbed in favor of four spots. This list, therefore, features who I consider to be the four most definitive Lakers.
Kobe spent 20 years wearing the purple and gold, and accomplished wonders for the Lakers. As one of the fiercest competitors and hardest workers the game has seen, Kobe garnered five championships, 15 All-NBA selections, and 12 All-Defensive Team selections.
Lakers fans saw the entire evolution and maturation of Kobe Bryant. From the night he was drafted and traded to the Lakers at only 17 years old, to all the indelible peaks and valleys of his life that followed, an entire generation of Lakers Nation grew up and grew old with Kobe. For 20 years, over one-fourth of the franchise’s existence, the Lakers were championed by Kobe Bryant. He is the definitive Laker.
Magic ushered in a new era of Lakers basketball: “Showtime.” But beyond that, he resuscitated the Lakers dynastic roots that were established in the 1950s when the team was still in Minneapolis.
By delivering a championship and winning Finals MVP in his rookie year, Magic set the tone for what his entire run with the Lakers would look like. Magic only played about 13 seasons in the NBA, yet he went to nine NBA Finals and won five championships. He was the epitome of basketball success and re-defined the Lakers as a franchise that featured not only great players, but championships to go with them.
In the mid-1970s, following the retirement of Wilt Chamberlain and Jerry West, the Lakers refused to accept a slow rebuild and instead swung for the fences, trading for the best basketball player in the world.
Kareem became a Laker after winning a championship and three league MVPs with the Milwaukee Bucks. In 14 seasons in Los Angeles, he won three more MVPs and five more championships, essentially delivering a Hall-of-Fame career in his time with the Lakers alone.
With his nifty goggles and famously unguardable skyhook, Kareem was critical in the success of the Showtime era and mastered the art of aging gracefully in the NBA. Quite the opposite of the flashy Magic, Kareem was more staidly and steely, and ultimately showed that the Lakers could beat you with fire or ice.
“The Logo” himself. Jerry West could do it all. Not only would he routinely fill the stat sheet, but he was a tenacious defender as well. West helped lead the Lakers to nine NBA Finals in the 1960s and 70s, culminating in the 1972 season that saw his team win a record 33 straight games, and ultimately the championship.
But West is on the Lakers’ Mount Rushmore not only because of his playing days. West became general of the Lakers in 1983, helping guide the team to three championships in the second half of the 1980s. But more impressively, he helped orchestrate the Lakers’ trade for Shaquille O’Neal, and recognized the necessity to trade for Kobe Bryant on draft night that same summer of 1996. Jerry West has his hands in many Lakers’ championships.