The Los Angeles Lakers have won the 2020 NBA Championship tying the Boston Celtics for a league-leading 17 titles. They were led by Finals MVP Lebron James but he couldn’t have done it without the Lakers big man Anthony Davis.
The Lakers have had a history of acquiring physically big men that can dominate and who can bring a championship to Los Angeles.
Here are some of the other dominant big men who have previously helped the Lakers win championships.
Known as “Wilt the Stilt” for his 7’1″ frame, Wilt Chamberlain was the first monumental, powerful and strong center for the Lakers. Chamberlain first joined the Lakers in 1968 after being traded from the Philadelphia 76ers. Chamberlain once scored 100 points in a game before, a feat no one has ever done before or since he did it. He joined a squad which featured Hall-of-Fame forward Elgin Baylor and Hall-of-Fame guard Jerry West. Chamberlain played 5 seasons in Los Angeles and won the 1971-72 NBA Championship. He was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame and his legacy continues to live on today.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar dominated the NBA with the Milwaukee Bucks to start his career but, joined the Lakers in 1975. Abdul-Jabbar would go on to win five championships wearing the purple and gold in 1980, 1982, 1985, 1987 and 1988 alongside Hall of Fame point guard Earvin “Magic” Johnson. He was famous for using his signature move, “the skyhook.” This move was very effective and no other center guarding Kareem was able to block his shot because of his massive 7’2″ frame. The 80’s Lakers were nicknamed “Showtime” because of their run-and-gun style of basketball, led by Johnson’s passing skills and Abdul-Jabbar’s scoring abilities. In 2012 a statue of Abdul-Jabbar was unveiled outside of the Staples Center.
Shaquille O’Neal is considered one of the most dominant centers in NBA history. He was 7’1″ and weighing in at 315 lbs. O’Neal was drafted by the Orlando Magic in 1992 but was traded to the Lakers in 1996 to be paired with a rookie Kobe Bryant. O’Neal and Bryant won three championships in a row from 2000-2002 and O’Neal won the Finals MVP all three years. Even though Kobe and O’Neal had a falling out in 2004 which led to O’Neal being traded he still continued to be very dominant in the NBA and will always be known for helping Los Angeles bring home back-to-back-to-back titles. O’Neal was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame and the Lakers unveiled a statue of him in front of the Staples Center in 2017 not too far from Abdul-Jabbar’s statue. O’Neal and Bryant left quite a legacy and are still considered one of the best duos in the history of the league.
After O’Neal left Los Angeles the Lakers struggled to make a deep playoff run without him. This led to the Lakers trading for Pau Gasol. The Lakers sent the Memphis Grizzlies draft picks in 2008 and 2010, Kwame Brown, Javaris Crittenton and the rights to Gasol’s younger brother, Marc. Pau Gasol was a huge catalyst for the Lakers while they won back-to-back titles in 2009 and 2010. Bryant and Pau Gasol developed a close bond and understood each other on the court. Gasol is considered the most skilled big men the Lakers ever had. He was able to play both the center and power forward position something that wasn’t common during the era he played in. His passing abilities were rarely found in guys his size and he ran the floor better than most centers at the time.
Davis has cemented his legacy in Los Angeles after joining this legendary group. After being traded from New Orleans last offseason Davis made sure his impact was felt all season long. He averaged 26 points and 9 rebounds per game and at 26 years old he doesn’t appear to show any signs of slowing down. It was reported earlier this week he plans to re-sign with the Lakers this offseason and try to win another championship.