The Los Angeles Lakers organization is not only one of the most historic in the NBA but all of sports.
The Lakers’ 17 NBA Championships are tied with the Boston Celtics for the most in league history. Throughout the years, a number of superstars donned the purple and gold starting with George Mikan, to Jerry West, Elgin Baylor and Wilt Chamberlain, and then Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and James Worthy, then Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant, and finally, LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
A number of other stars and coaches have called the Lakers organization home, which has led to some of the NBA’s best teams. Here is a ranking of the top five Lakers championship teams, which was a very tough list to make.
No. 1: 1972 Lakers
The 1971-72 Lakers team is not only the best team in franchise history but perhaps NBA history.
Chamberlain and West led that team to 69 wins in the regular season, which remained a record until Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls won 72 games and then Stephen Curry’s Golden State Warriors eventually won 73.
That Lakers team won a record 33 straight games at one point, which remains a record to this day. They went on to win the championship by defeating New York Knicks in five games.
No. 2: 2001 Lakers
No. 2 on our list is the 2000-01 Lakers, who won their second in a run of three straight championships led by O’Neal, Bryant and Phil Jackson.
That team went 56-26 in the regular season to earn the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference. Their real dominance came in the playoffs though when they went 15-1 to win the championship, which has only been matched by the 2016-17 Warriors.
Their lone playoff loss came in Game 1 of the NBA Finals against Allen Iverson and the Philadelphia 76ers although they responded by winning four straight to clinch the championship. In that playoff run, the Lakers’ 13.8 net rating is the best in postseason history.
No. 3: 1987 Lakers
The “Showtime” Lakers’ best season came in 1986-87 when they went 65-17, leading the league in offensive rating, 3-point shooting and countless other categories.
Magic Johnson won his first MVP award in 1986-87 and Michael Cooper won the NBA Defensive Player of the Year, the only Laker to ever do so.
The end result was a second straight NBA Finals appearance against the Celtics with the Lakers triumphing in six games and Johnson taking home Finals MVP honors.
No. 4: 2020 Lakers
What made the 2019-20 Lakers led by James, Davis and Frank Vogel so great was their ability to overcome adversity.
The season started with a preseason trip to China in which the Lakers became stranded due to political controversy brought on by comments by Daryl Morey. The Lakers were then forced to navigate through the death of a franchise icon in Bryant, and a global pandemic that shut the season down right when L.A. was playing its best ball.
That Lakers team was an incredible 50-0 when leading after three quarters and ultimately earned the top seed in the West for the postseason in the Orlando bubble after a hiatus that lasted a few months due to the pandemic.
In the playoffs, the Lakers dominated their way through the West by winning every series in five games and then went on to defeat the Miami Heat in six games in the NBA Finals. James took home MVP honors, fulfilling his promise to Lakers fans that he would return the organization to prominence by winning their 17th championship to tie the Celtics for the most ever.
No. 5: 1985 Lakers
What was so great about the 1984-85 Lakers was that they were finally able to overcome the Celtics. Going into that year, the Celtics were 8-0 in the NBA Finals against the Lakers.
The Lakers defeated the Celtics in six games though, capping off one of the best seasons in franchise history with Abdul-Jabbar taking home MVP honors at 38 years of age, the oldest player to do so.
That Lakers team was the best offensively in the Showtime era, scoring 118.2 points per game and an incredible 126.3 points per game in the playoffs.