All-Time #NBArank has reached the cream of the crop.
To create All-Time #NBArank, we put together a ballot with the 150 greatest players ever. Then our ESPN expert panel voted on thousands of head-to-head matchups, with voting based on both peak performance and career value. The result is our all-time NBA Top 100.
All-Time #NBArank: No. 4
Los Angeles Lakers (1979-1991, 1995-1996)
Three-time MVP (1986-87, 1988-89, 1989-90), three-time Finals MVP, 12-time All-Star, 10-time All-NBA selection, Hall of Fame
Five (1980, 1982, 1985, 1987, 1988)
19.5 PPG, 7.2 RPG, 11.2 APG, .520 FG%
All-Time #NBArank has cracked the top 10 -- the cream of the crop.
To create All-Time #NBArank, we put together a ballot with the 150 greatest players ever. Then our ESPN expert panel voted on thousands of head-to-head matchups, with voting based on both peak performance and career value. The result is our all-time NBA Top 100, which concludes Wednesday.
All-Time #NBArank: No. 5
Philadelphia/San Francisco Warriors (1959-1965), Philadelphia 76ers (1965-1968), Los Angeles Lakers (1968-1973)
Four-time MVP (1959-60, 1965-66, 1966-67, 1967-68), Finals MVP (1972), 13-time All-Star, 10-time All-NBA selection, two-time All-D selection, Rookie of the Year (1959-60), Hall of Fame
Two (1967, 1972)
30.1 PPG, 22.9 RPG, 4.4 APG, .540 FG%
Wilt the Stilt, The Big Dipper
Their matchup over the years has been one of cross-conference shadow boxing; injury and circumstance have prevented them from having an epic playoff showdown. One or the other played in every NBA Finals from 2007 to 2015, but never against each other.
There is another piece of history the two share, one mostly hidden until now. According to multiple sources with direct knowledge of the event, the Lakers once contacted the Cavs to investigate whether Cleveland would make James available in a possible Bryant trade.
In the summer of 2007, Bryant was 28 years old and coming off a season in which he averaged 32 points per game and shot 46 percent from the field. He had three rings and would win his first Most Valuable Player award the following season.
Bryant was under contract for two more seasons, but he was frustrated with the Lakers after three consecutive subpar seasons following the Shaquille O'Neal trade.
"At that time, the Lakers had to do something. I was just losing faith in what they were trying to do. It was like I was a meal ticket," Bryant told ESPN's Baxter Holmes this week. "You come out and score 40, 50 points, fill the seats, we're going to keep the payroll at a minimum, generate revenue. It's like, look, listen, I am not with that, dude. I have to win without Shaq. I've got to do it. We've got to do something."
Bryant famously agitated for change, and as the rhetoric reached a fever pitch in the media, some kind of blockbuster trade seemed almost likely.
How Kobe Bryant’s relationship with LeBron James evolved: The two stars laughed with each other as LeBron James bantered along with Kobe Bryant by the scorer’s table. Bryant later teased James at center-court moments after he bricked an alley oop. Once the buzzer sounded, Bryant and James hugged each other and offered encouraging words. -- Los Angeles Daily News
Julius Randle pleases Byron Scott with improvement: The pouting Julius Randle showed as he went to bench left Lakers coach Byron Scott questioning the 21-year-old’s maturity. Randle’s inconsistency with his jump shot prompted Scott to express skepticism whether he could fix it before this summer. An injury to Larry Nance Jr. still left Scott in doubt as to whether Randle could reclaim his starting spot. -- Los Angeles Daily News
Lakers' Julius Randle continues on upswing as a starter: Someone had to try to grab all the wacky caroms off the Lakers' many misses. Julius Randle was up for it. The 19 rebounds he took Monday in a duck-and-cover loss to Indiana were emblematic of a young career bouncing the right way lately. -- Los Angeles Times
Lakers' TV, radio analysts face tricky role in assessing Byron Scott: James Worthy steeled himself, then offered a blunt assessment. The Lakers, in the midst of a losing season, had reached their nadir with a 48-point loss to the Clippers. The Hall of Famer glared into the camera and did what many other analysts would have. -- The Orange County Register
Kobe Bryant's sudden resurgence is weird, yet wonderful: He’s got that skip to his dribble-drive again. The clean, confident follow-through on his shot is back. Somehow, Kobe Bryant has reassembled his game. In five games since being inactive on Jan. 29, Bryant has averaged 31 minutes and 26 points a game. He is having a comeback within the context of a comeback season. -- The Orange County Register