The Los Angeles Lakers are arguably the most accomplished franchise in NBA history. They are tied with the Boston Celtics for the most titles of any NBA franchise with 17 and have made 32 appearances in the NBA Finals.
So it should come as no surprise that the Lakers have had some of the greatest players and teams in the history of basketball. From the George Mikan-led Lakers teams of the 1950s to the LeBron James-led Lakers of the 2020s, the Lakers have been consistently great throughout their 70-plus-year existence, besides a rough patch near the end of Kobe Bryant's career during the late 2010s.
The Lakers are one of only two franchises where some teams who went on to win the title won't make this list, considering there are 17 title teams in the history of the storied franchise and only ten spots on this list. With all of that said, let's rank the ten greatest Los Angeles Lakers teams in the history of the franchise:
The final Kobe Bryant-led Lakers team to win a title, the 2009-10 iteration of the purple and gold finished the regular season with a 57-25 record. Bryant averaged 27.0 points, 5.4 rebounds, 5.0 assists, and 1.5 steals per game across 73 appearances during the regular season.
Los Angeles beat the Oklahoma City Thunder, Utah Jazz, and Phoenix Suns in the first three rounds of the postseason before facing off against Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, and the Boston Celtics in the 2010 NBA Finals. Bryant and Gasol then led the Lakers to an NBA title, as the Lakers defeated the Celtics in a hard-fought seven-game series that should be remembered as one of the greatest NBA Finals series in modern NBA history.
The 1979-80 Lakers were the first of many Magic Johnson-led teams that went on to win the NBA title. Johnson was only a rookie at this point, though, so Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was by far the best player on the Lakers this season. He averaged 24.8 points, 10.8 rebounds, 4.5 assists, 3.4 blocks, and 1.0 steals in 82 games played during the regular season and won the league's MVP award.
The Lakers beat the Phoenix Suns in five games in the Western Conference Semifinals and the Seattle Supersonics in five games in the Western Conference Finals to secure an NBA Finals berth. The Lakers played Julius Erving and the Philadelphia 76ers in the NBA Finals and went on to win the series in six games, with the rookie, Magic Johnson, winning the Finals MVP award.
The last Magic Johnson-led Lakers squad to win the NBA title, the 1987-88 team finished the regular season with a fantastic 62-20 record. By this time, Byron Scott, now 26, was a legitimate co-star alongside Johnson, James Worthy, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, as Scott averaged a team-high 21.7 points to go along with 4.1 assists, 4.1 rebounds, and 1.9 steals per game across 81 games played during the regular season.
The Lakers just barely survived their Western Conference Semifinals and Western Conference Finals series, as the Utah Jazz and Dallas Mavericks forced a Game 7 in both series. And the NBA Finals wasn't any easier for Los Angeles, as the Detroit Pistons also forced a Game 7, but the Lakers came out on top in Game 7 by a final score of 108-105 behind a 36-point triple-double from Worthy.
The 2000-01 iteration of the Los Angeles Lakers marked the second year of the Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal Lakers teams that three-peated. The squad finished the regular season with a 56-26 record, the second-best in the Western Conference behind only Tim Duncan and the San Antonio Spurs. O'Neal stood out as the best player on that Lakers team, as he averaged 28.7 points, 12.7 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 2.8 blocks, and 0.6 steals per game across 74 appearances during the regular season.
The Lakers went on to breeze through the entire postseason en route to the 2001 NBA title. They swept the Portland Trail Blazers, Sacramento Kings, and San Antonio Spurs during the first three rounds of the postseason. And then the Lakers beat Allen Iverson and the Philadelphia 76ers in five games in the NBA Finals.
The most recent Lakers team to win a title, the 2019-20 squad finished the pandemic-shortened regular season 52-19, the best record in the Western Conference and the third-best in the entire NBA. LeBron James, arguably the greatest player ever to play the game of basketball, was the best player on the roster — he averaged 25.3 points, 10.2 assists, 7.8 rebounds, 1.2 steals, and 0.5 blocks per game in 67 total games played during the regular season.
In the first three rounds of the 2020 playoffs — which took place in the Orlando Bubble — the Lakers rolled through the competition. Los Angeles beat the Portland Trail Blazers, Houston Rockets, and Denver Nuggets in five games in the opening three rounds of the playoffs. The Lakers then played the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals. The Heat gave the Lakers a run for their money, as the series went to six games, but Los Angeles came out on top.
After losing to Larry Bird and the Boston Celtics in the NBA Finals the year prior, the 1984-85 Lakers were motivated to get back to that stage and finish the job, and that they did. This iteration of the Lakers won 62 games during the regular season, the most in the Western Conference by a wide margin, as the second-place Denver Nuggets won 52 games.
The Lakers lost a total of just two games across the first three rounds of the playoffs en route to the NBA Finals, where they would play the Celtics once again. And Los Angeles beat the Celtics in six games behind a fantastic series from Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who averaged 25.7 points, 9.0 rebounds, 5.2 assists, and 1.5 blocks per game for the series and won the Finals MVP award.
For years, people criticized Kobe Bryant for not being able to win an NBA title without Shaquille O'Neal, but that all changed after the 2008-09 season. Bryant was far and away the best player on the 2008-09 iteration of Los Angeles, as he averaged 26.8 points, 5.2 rebounds, 4.9 assists, 1.5 steals, and 0.5 blocks per game across 82 games played during the regular season.
The opening few rounds of the postseason proved to be a challenge for the Lakers. The Houston Rockets took the Lakers to seven games in the Western Conference Semifinals, and the Denver Nuggets took them to six games in the Western Conference Finals. But the Lakers made quick work of Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic in the NBA Finals, as they beat them in five games. Bryant won Finals MVP and scored 32.4 points per game during the championship series.
The 1999-00 Lakers marked the beginning of the Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal three-peat. The Lakers dominated the entire league during the regular season, as they finished with an incredible 67-15 record, the best record in the league by far, as no other team won more than 57 games.
And after taking care of business against the Sacramento Kings, Phoenix Suns, and Portland Trail Blazers in the first three rounds of the playoffs, the Lakers played Reggie Miller and the Indiana Pacers in the NBA Finals. Los Angeles ended up beating the Pacers in six games, and O'Neal averaged an otherworldly 38.0 points per game for the series.
The 1971-72 Lakers are famous for putting together the longest winning streak in NBA history — they won 33 games in a row. This iteration of Los Angeles won 69 games during the regular season and went on to win the title, too, as they beat the New York Knicks in five games in the NBA Finals.
The 1986-87 aren't just the greatest Lakers team ever — they're arguably the greatest team in NBA history. They lost just one game across the first three rounds of the postseason before beating Larry Bird and the Boston Celtics in the NBA Finals once again. Los Angeles eliminated the Celtics in six games, and Magic Johnson was named Finals MVP, as he averaged 26.2 points and 13.0 assists for the series.