Jerry West: Kobe Bryant is the greatest Laker of all time

Some of the greatest players in the history of the NBA have worn Los Angeles Lakers uniforms. With so many Hall of Famers having hoisted championship banners for L.A., it’s almost impossible to label one of them the greatest Laker of all time. Jerry West, who won an NBA title, made it to the Finals nine times and was a 14-time all star, would be in the discussion. However, West emphatically gives that title to Kobe Bryant.

“What he has accomplished with this team, I don’t think there’s any question in my mind at this point in time – because of him being with this team for his whole career – that he has been the greatest Laker player,” West told USA TODAY Sports on Thursday. “I do think he’s the greatest Laker player we’ve ever seen.

“He has an incredible desire to win and excel, and his work ethic and his skill level are what places him among the truly great, great players we’ve ever had in this league.”

Shaquille O’Neal dominated the playoffs and earned three NBA FInals MVP awards with the Lakers. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar took home five championship rings and three league MVP awards. Magic Johnson combined all of the aforementioned accolades, winning five NBA championships, three NBA MVPs, and three Finals MVPs. All are worthy of being in the discussion.

Kobe recently became the youngest player to ever reach 30,000 points in his career, and every one of them came in a Lakers uniform. He has won five championships and two Finals MVPs with L.A., and there’s no reason he can’t win a sixth. If Bryant wins a sixth ring, the Kobe vs. Michael Jordan debate may become more heated than ever. But if that day should come, there will be little debate as to who is the greatest Laker of all time.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/jackebner Jackson Ebner

    I put Jerry West over anybody as greatest Laker, as a player he is probably a little behind Kobe and Magic, however add that West was the brains behind the Lakers getting Kobe, Shaq, Magic, and Worthy, all of which were attained by genius moves.  Case closed.

  • Chuck Lovell

    I love the Lakers.  I like Kobe.  All that said, Magic is the greatest Lakers player.  West is certainly up there, ahead of Kobe.  Kareem and Shaq and Chamberlain  are at least equal to Kobe or close.  Actually, now that I think about it, Kobe is ahead of Shaq as greatest Laker, probably ahead of Chamberlain too in regards to greatest Laker.  So that makes it Magic, West, Kobe and then the others who didn’t play their whole career as a Laker.

  • Larry Madrid

    west, magic and kobe in that order.

  • cncaliguy

    I agree with West being #1 Laker. He might not be the #1 Laker player but he is definitely #1 in Laker organization. He built 3 dynasties, Magic and Kareem era, Shaq and Kobe era, and Kobe era.

    As a fan, I feel Magic will be the #1 Laker player. They didn’t win with Kareem alone. They need Magic and he got them to 9 finals appearances and helped build the NBA with Bird. Magic made all his teammates  better and the game easier for them. 

    Kobe squandered his prime with bitter teammates and NBA fans because of the accused  rape scandal. The stuff he says also doesn’t help.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/HFM5J3Z5NQOW3KNEQ6AQO3RXSU Christopher M Larson

    Nonsense. I would put both Magic and Kareem over Kobe. Magic was not a sidekick in his first 7 years. He immediately proved he was as good as Kareem. He was not Kareem’s “sidekick” until 1987. 

    And most will say that Kareem had his best seasons playing for another team, and this is probably true. But Kareem’s career was so long and so storied, that even his years in LA would overshadow all but the greatest players of all time. The man won 5 rings in LA, and Magic and Worthy never won one without him, despite their greatness. 

    West was a little before my time. And back then, you almost had to be around. There just isn’t a ton of NBA footage from back then, and the game really wasn’t that exciting to watch back then. Dr. J, Magic, and Michael Jordan transformed the game into something where absolute greatness could be captured in a 5 second video clip. The Sky Hook didn’t have that effect and looked very average on replay despite its dominance. But Dr. J making a swooping layup, Magic passing between two opponents legs for a layup, or Jordan switching hands in mid-air just wowed with 5 second clips. 

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/HFM5J3Z5NQOW3KNEQ6AQO3RXSU Christopher M Larson

    He mainly spent his prime as a guy who was jacking up 81 points for an 8th seed team. It is hard to imagine Jordan or Magic that late in their career barely making the playoffs, or not making them at all. 

    We basically won 2 titles in Kobe’e prime. For the first 3, he was definitely the second fiddle. But what is alarming, is that as Kobe fell out of his prime, he never adjusted his game. He never developed suffocating defense or the unstoppable go-to shot like Jordan did. He just shot a lower and lower percentage as the players around him seemed to improve. 

    There has been more than one year where Kobe started out with the most talented team in the NBA on paper and didn’t end up with a title. I don’t blame him for not winning in 2005 and 2006 with Smush Parker as the point guard, but there were years where I feel a lot of talent was squandered, and this year is looking like LAs biggest under-performance in a long time. 

    The BIGGEST mistake was not getting Phil back. Forget Shaq and Kobe. Those guys played some pretty mediocre seasons in LA without Phil Jackson. 

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/HFM5J3Z5NQOW3KNEQ6AQO3RXSU Christopher M Larson

    It is also strange how the guy has scored 30,000 points, and as a Laker fan, I am fed up with him if nothing else. It isn’t how I felt about the player when Kareem or Malone passed 30,000 points. 

    The truth is, I would eat a turd if we could trade him for Dwayne Wade tomorrow. 

  • truth714betold

    Magic must have pissed West off, deep down I’m sure he realizes Magic who possessed incredible individual talent also was unselfish and helped the whole team reach its potential. Kobe while a great individual talent and accompanied by gifted teammates is unable or un willing to elevate team play. 

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/GZN67JE6TEBLF6ZTLVRRF6Q44Q Jose Jauregui

    Magic is the greatest Laker of all time!!!!! I think that greatness is also defined by circumstance. Magic had to contend with a “stacked” Western conference before having to face the beasts of the East. You are talking about some of the greatest teams ever assembled when going for the ring. Yeah Kobe could score 81, but Magic could score 7, have the Lakers leading by 25 in the 3rd quarter, and not play in the 4th.