Lakers have always been able to make the big deals
The NBA holds an annual draft, but it has never meant much to the Lakers. They don’t draft stars so much as acquire them. It’s been this way for decades, with the Lakers often harvesting top talent from elsewhere instead of growing their own.
Dwight Howard, acquired from Orlando on Friday, was only the latest example of the Lakers making a move that shifted the NBA’s landscape.
Here are a few of the other monumental Lakers trades, or signings, that helped the franchise win 16 NBA championships, one behind the Boston Celtics:
Wilt Chamberlain (1968-73 with Lakers)
Chamberlain dominated no matter the jersey he donned — and he was once a Harlem Globetrotter. He switched to a purple and gold ensemble when the Lakers plucked him from Philadelphia in 1968 in exchange for Jerry Chambers, Archie Clark and Darrall Imhoff.
By then he was a four-time most valuable player, had led the league in scoring for seven seasons (six in a row) and was the only man to score 100 points in an NBA game. At 32, “The Big Dipper” could still play, and in his first season with the Lakers he led the NBA in rebounding (21.1 per game).
His 1971-72 Lakers set a record with 33 consecutive wins, beat the New York Knicks in the NBA Finals — for the Lakers’ first title in Los Angeles — and Chamberlain, who had teammates in Elgin Baylor, Jerry West and Gail Goodrich, was named the MVP of the playoffs.
Remarkably, that was his only title in five seasons in L.A. He retired after the ’72-73 season as the all-time leader in points (31,419), later surpassed by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (1975-1989)
His lethal sky hook made the trek from Milwaukee to L.A. in 1975 via a deal that sent cash and Brian Winters, Elmore Smith, David Meyers and Junior Bridgeman to the Bucks.
In Milwaukee, Abdul-Jabbar won one championship and three league MVPs.
At 28, the former UCLA star helped fill Chamberlain’s oversized shoes immediately, winning the MVP in his first season with the Lakers, averaging 27.7 points and a career-best 16.9 rebounds. His career was bolstered when the Lakers drafted Magic Johnson in 1979, and Abdul-Jabbar ultimately won five championships with the Lakers and earned two MVP awards, bringing his total to six.
He was a two-time Finals MVP, a two-time scoring champion, made 19 NBA All-Star game appearances and retired in 1989 as the NBA’s all-time leading scorer (38,387 points).
Shaquille O’Neal (1996-2004) and Kobe Bryant (1996-present)
O’Neal and Bryant found themselves in L.A. in the summer of 1996. The Lakers traded Vlade Divac for the rights to Bryant, the 18-year-old high school player drafted by the Charlotte Hornets with the 13th pick. In the same month, Lakers General Manager Jerry West signed the 24-year-old O’Neal, a free agent and former Orlando Magic center, arguably the league’s most dominant player.
O’Neal and Bryant recharged the franchise. The dominant duo led the Lakers to three consecutive championships, 2000-02, all of which ended with O’Neal as Finals MVP. Eventually, the O’Neal-Bryant relationship soured, the dynasty ended and O’Neal was traded in 2004 to Miami for Lamar Odom, Caron Butler, Brian Grant and a couple draft picks.
Pau Gasol (2008–present)
When the Lakers traded Kwame Brown, Javaris Crittenton, Marc Gasol and two picks to Memphis in 2008 for Gasol, it proved to be a landmark deal that brought L.A. more banners. The skilled 7-foot Spaniard gave Bryant the sidekick he needed and helped the Lakers reach the Finals in 2008, 2009 and 2010, resulting in two championships.
Steve Nash (2012)
Nash, a two-time MVP and eight-time All-Star, tormented the Lakers for years. His Phoenix Suns ended the Lakers’ playoff runs in 2006 and 2007 as Nash and Bryant had legendary battles against each other. But last month the Lakers traded for the 38-year-old Nash for a package of picks and cash, giving him a realistic shot at his first NBA championship and giving Bryant one of the best point guards in NBA history.
Nash is a career 90% free-throw shooter, 49% field-goal shooter and 43% three-point shooter.
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