One of the NBAs most storied franchises, the kings of Showtime, have no shortage of chill-rendering moments and clutch plays to fill out the below list. Some of the best players to ever play the game have worn the purple and gold, and some of the NBAs greatest series were played by this team.
Top 10 Defining Moments in LA Lakers History
1. Kobe to Shaq
In the first year of Shaq, Kobe and Phil Jackson in 2000, the Lakers had a commanding 3-1 over the Portland Trailblazers in the Western Conference Finals which they conspired to lose. It came down to Game 7, when the Lakers were down by 15 in the 4th quarter.
But the Lakers made an epic comeback, punctuated by an alley-oop between the Dysfunctional Duo, Kobe to Shaq.
After Tim Duncan had sent the Spurs up by one with 0.4 second left in Game 5 of the 2004 West semifinals, many thought it was over. But then Derek Fisher pulled off that miraculous shot over Manu Ginobili’s outstretched hands. The Lakers finished off the Spurs in 6 games.
3. Big Shot Bob Downs Kings
In just one of the shots in his resume that earned him the nickname “Big Shot Bob,” Robert Horry came up big when his team needed it. The Lakers came roaring back from 24 points down and were down by just two with seconds remaining. After failed attempts by Kobe and Shaq, the ball was backtapped to Mr. Big Shot wide open at the top of the key. The result was inevitable.
The year 2006 wasn’t a vintage one for the Lakers organization, but it will go down in history for one number: 81.
On January 22, Kobe Bryant produced the second greatest scoring performance ever witnessed in an NBA game against the Toronto Raptors. Kobe went 28-46 from the field, including 7-13 3-pointers and 18-20 free throws.
5. The Punch
In one of the darkest moments in NBA history, the Lakers’ Kermit Washington and the Rockets’ Rudy Tomjanovich were involved in an on-court altercation. Washington landed one punch – forever to be known as The Punch – to Tomjanovich’s face which ended his career and nearly resulted in his death.
6. Ralph Sampson’s Shot
The 1986 NBA Finals were supposed to be the greatest ever played. The ’86 Celtics – considered by some as the best team of all-time – were awaiting the Lakers for a rematch of the previous year’s finals, which LA had won.
But the Rockets, led by the twin towers Hakeem Olajuwon and Ralph Sampson, had other ideas. The Rockets disposed of the Lakers 4-1 as Sampson famously made a miraculous shot in Game 5 to win the series.
7. The Clothesline
The McHale clothesline on Kurt Rambis has become symbolic of the famed Boston-LA rivalry in the 80’s. It is also emblematic of the hatred Lakers fans harbor toward the dirty Celtics.
8. HIV Positive
It was an unforgettable moment for Lakers fans, for basketball fans and for the entire country.
Magic Johnson announced that he was HIV positive.
A legend’s retirement from the sport took a backseat to the magnitude of his announcement. Back in 1991, AIDS was considered a death sentence and a social stigma. Magic’s admission opened the door for a better understanding and acceptance of the disease, which has benefitted other afflicted people immensely.
9. Magic at Center
The Legend of Magic Johnson was made in Game 6 of the 1980 Finals. Without Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the rookie Magic famously went up for a jump ball and played virtually all positions en route to a virtuoso 42 point, 15 rebound, 7 assist performance and his first NBA championship.
10. Junior, Junior Skyhook
In the very last Finals encounter between Larry Bird and Magic Johnson, it was Magic who had the final say. In Game 4, Bird’s clutch three looked to be enough to tie the series at 2. However, Magic produced the iconic “junior sky hook” over the despairing arms of Kevin McHale and Robert Parish to give the Lakers the win, the game and the series.
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