Is Kobe Bryant the greatest Laker of all time? [Poll]
When Kobe Bryant surpassed Shaquille O'Neal as the fifth-leading scorer in NBA history, O'Neal responded via Twitter: "Congrats to Kobe for being the greatest laker ever."
It's an interesting assessment, considering three of the four players still ahead of Bryant on the scoring list (No. 4 Wilt Chamberlain, No. 2 Karl Malone and No. 1 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) are former Lakers.
But as far as points scored as a member of the Lakers, Bryant is at the top of the list with 28,601. And considering he probably will spend his entire career in purple and gold, chances are pretty good he will end up being the all-time leader in many other categories as well.
Of course, there are some other local legends to consider. When The Times conducted an online survey about the greatest Lakers of all time in 2010, Bryant finished fourth behind Magic Johnson, Jerry West and Abdul-Jabbar. The rest of the top 10 was rounded out by Elgin Baylor, James Worthy, Chick Hearn, Chamberlain, O'Neal and Jerry Buss.
Bryant is one of seven players to have won five NBA championships with the Lakers. Abdul-Jabbar won a sixth with the Milwaukee Bucks and Robert Horry won a total of seven, but only three as a member of the Lakers.
Writers from around the Tribune Co. will discuss Shaq's comments about Bryant being the greatest Laker ever. Check back throughout the day for more responses and join the discussion by voting in the poll and leaving a comment of your own.
[Updated at 11:53 a.m.:
Shandel Richardson, South Florida Sun Sentinel
First off, it's hard to believe what Shaquille O'Neal says these days. He was speaking out of spite on Dwight Howard being the second-best center and now he's saying what folks want to hear. Kobe Bryant is great, but hardly the greatest Laker of all time.
The title has to come from the Showtime Era because that will always symbolize the franchise. Magic Johnson is No. 1 on this list. He redefined the point guard position, brought Hollywood to basketball and is still the face of the organization.
Most important, Johnson will always be more beloved by fans in Los Angeles than Bryant. Unless he retires as the all-time scoring leader, Bryant probably finishes third, just behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
As for O'Neal, the biggest surprise is he made the comments now instead of waiting so he could use them to publicize his next book.]
[Updated at 1:57 p.m.:
Mike Bresnahan, Los Angeles Times
Is the world still spinning comfortably on its axis? Everybody OK in Lakerville?
Shaquille O’Neal called his teammate-turned-enemy the best Laker ever. Stunning. And almost true.
Magic Johnson still holds the torch as the GLE (Greatest Laker Ever) and has the most popular trophy at Staples Center to back it up.
Kobe Bryant is, however, edging closer.
They’ve each won five championships, so that’s a draw, but Bryant won with entirely different teams — three rings via brute force with O’Neal and two via the kinder, gentler Pau Gasol. Impressive.
Johnson gets the edge because he’s been retired for almost 20 years and is still a Los Angeles icon. He’s seemingly everywhere, surfacing as a potential owner of the Dodgers or an NFL team, breaking ground with one of his new investment properties that have made him close to a billionaire on paper, or simply drawing nods of affirmation and photo requests while attending as many Lakers games as possible.
The greatest Laker ever still has a magical touch ... for now.]
-- Chuck Schilken
Photo: Kobe Bryant. Credit: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times