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Los Angeles Lakers: Why They Have The Greatest Starting 5 In NBA History

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One of the best NBA discussions in history is, who has the best starting 5? The Bulls fans will throw out a lineup that features Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Derrick Rose, Dennis Rodman and maybe Joakim Noah, while great due to Pippen and Jordan they may not have what it takes to knock off other teams. The Detroit Pistons will be a tough bunch, so will the Boston Celtics and the Philadelphia 76ers but there is one team that would sweep every team in a  7-game series, the Los Angeles Lakers.

There’s no need to place players by position, the best 5 will make the cut and once you see the Lakers top 5 there will no longer need to be any further talks about why they are the greatest. But there is only one rule, all players must have played with team for more 5 seasons or more.

Here’s the starting 5 lineup for the Los Angeles Lakers:

Magic Johnson:

Johnson was great with the Showtime Lakers but if you were to put him on a team that featured Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal how much dangerous would he be? If you allowed Magic to play in today’s era where there is no such thing as a hand-checks and how the game is now played at a faster pace Magic would average 20 assist per game, easily. There is no guard with today’s rules that could contain Magic on a break or in the low post. He would dominate everyone. He wasn’t the best shooter from the perimeter but he could get to the lane for a layup, dish to a teammate or draw the foul. At his size, opposing guards will have a hard time keeping him off the glass well. It’s one thing to have Kareem Abdul-Jabbar cleaning the glass but to have Magic do it then watch as he went coast to coast, will be heartbreaking to a defense.


Kobe Bryant:

If you want to throw Jordan into the mix with the Bulls, then Kobe may be the only player that will give him a run for his money. Both players will cancel each other out giving another advantage to the Lakers with the presence of Magic in the backcourt. Kobe is a lethal defender, physical and smothering, but on the offensive side he is outright dangerous. From the perimeter is he golden and as far as getting to the rim he is one of the best to ever do it. As he got older, much like Jordan his foot work has improved, his turn around fadeaway is nearly impossible to stop. There’s a reason he is #3 on the all time scoring list, not of the Lakers but the NBA.


Elgin Baylor:

Like you really thought I was going to place James Worthy here. Baylor gives today’s SF a bad name, he did it all. He hit from the perimeter, drove to the rim, played defense and rebounded the ball to the tune of 27 points and 14 rebounds per game. This is why Magic could average at least 20 assist per game with just Baylor and Kobe alone. It may seem like there will not be enough basketballs to go around but Magic would find a way to make this all work. With Magic running the offense at full speed and Baylor on the wing there is not a SF that could stop him.


Shaquille O’Neal:

Yup, this is post play and while Shaq may have played Center, there’s no rule saying I cannot use him alongside Jabbar. Shaq may have been the most powerful force the NBA has ever seen, and with 3 championships alongside Bryant his legacy was cemented. Shaq tortured the NBA for 24 points and 11 rebounds, numbers which took a dip as he got older and became a role player for teams during his final run but in his prime there was no one better. If he was able to make free throws, Shaq would’ve averaged over 30 points per game.


Kareem Abdul-Jabbar:

Kareem, in my opinion is the G.O.A.T, hands down and to be able to place him on this Lakers team should tell you all to need to know in regards as to why they have the best starting 5 in history. Abdul-Jabbar is the leading scorer in NBA history, one of the most feared defensive players ever and may have the greatest signature post move ever created. There’s no Center, either current or past that could stop Jabbar, and with his chemistry with Magic already in place, his ability to kick out to either Kobe or Baylor and not have to expend too much energy on defense thanks to the presence of Shaq, oh man.

There it is, the greatest starting 5 in NBA history.

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Robert D. Cobb
Founder, Publisher and CEO of INSCMagazine. Works have appeared and featured in places such as Forbes, Huffington Post, ESPN and NBC Sports to name a few. Follow me on Twitter at @RobCobb_INSC, email me at robert.cobb@theinscribermag.com