The Los Angeles Lakers have been the most successful NBA team since the New Millennium. While the San Antonio Spurs have won four championships since 2003, the Lakers have five rings since 2000. They kicked it off with a three-peat in 2000, 2001, and 2002. The Lakers became one of the most dominant powerhouses during the 2000s. Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal brought back the glory days by turning L.A. into the model franchise of excellence while most of the ’90s were rough.
Los Angeles would win two more NBA championships under Bryant- in 2009 and 2010. O’Neal could have added more to his legacy if he never left the Lakers in 2004, but he didn’t like Bryant. We have no doubts that The Black Mamba would have won seven championships if this dangerous pair stayed together.
But Kobe and Shaq Daddy aren’t the only reasons the Lakers three-peated from 2000-2002. There were 24 guys on the mission that delivered. Here are the rankings of every player who played on one or more of those championship teams
24. Mike Penberthy
From undrafted to NBA champion, it was a nice story for the 6-3 point guard out of Master’s College. Penberthy’s journey to pro basketball was an underdog story to many, and it was well worth it since he won a championship. But like a handful of people you’ll see on this list, Penberthy definitely wasn’t a huge part of the Lakers championship team.
In fact, his entire career lasted just 56 games, all with the Lakers. He played basketball across the world, including in Germany, Venezuela and Italy. But his brightest moment came with the Lakers when he won his ring in 2001. He averaged a mere 4.9 points in his entire NBA career. He did score five points and 1.2 rebounds-per-game during his championship season with the Lakers, however.
23. John Celestand
Like many other guys you’ll see later on this list, John Celestand played his career all across the globe. He began his career with the Lakers and was part of their 2000 championship team. And then that was it for him in the NBA. He went to the IBL where he played for the New Mexico Slam. He then went to Germany, then Italy, then France, to Germany twice more and Ukraine.
Good for Celestand to go on a travelling journey and for winning an NBA championship, but the Lakers would have been totally fine without him. Celestand appeared in just 16 games for the Lakers in the 1999-2000 season, scoring 37 points in his whole career while averaging just 2.3 points-per-game. Celestand shot a woeful .222 from beyond the arc. But hey, he makes our list for simply being a champion. His win.
22. Jelani McCoy
Jelani McCoy came into the NBA as the 33rd-overall selection by the Seattle SuperSonics in 1998. He would play for six NBA teams during his career, but also played overseas in China, Italy, Ukraine, and more. But for McCoy, who didn’t stand out much in the NBA, he did something Karl Malone could never do.
He was part of the 2002 Lakers championship team, but he was injured for most of the season and didn’t make an immediate impact on the roster. McCoy averaged just 1.2 points and 1.2 rebounds in 21 games with the Lakers that year. He was kind of like what Kevin Love was to the Cleveland Cavaliers for much of the NBA Finals in 2016: He was just there.
21. Greg Foster
During the Lakers three-peat, it was a popular time for guys on their last legs in the NBA to join the Kobe and Shaq’s team to win a championship. Enter Greg Foster, who entered the NBA in 1990 with the Washington Bullets. He bounced from team-to-team, playing for 10 teams in a 14-year career. That is incredible, by the way. It was evident that he had problems finding a long-term home.
But it finally happened for Foster, winning an NBA championship with the Lakers in 2001. He never won an award, never reached an All-Star Game, and his career-high was 6.1 points with the Chicago Bulls in 1994-95. During his championship season with the Lakers, he played in 62 games, averaging two points-per-game. Not exactly a contributor or star.
20. A.C. Green
A.C. Green was actually a decently hyped prospect, as the Lakers drafted him 23rd-overall in the 1985 NBA Draft. That class included Patrick Ewing, Karl Malone, and Terry Porter. Green was also part of the 1987 and 1988 Laker championship teams and made it to the All-Star Game in 1990. He averaged 9.6 points-per-game throughout his career and played 17 seasons in the NBA.
But by the time he returned to the Lakers in 1999, Green was well past his prime. He was part of the 2000 championship team, but averaged just five points and 5.9 rebounds-per-game throughout the season. That was the lowest of his career. Even though he enjoyed a nice career and showed flashes of being a superstar, the Lakers would have been fine without him in 2000. As such, he ranks low on our list, though it may not be fair to some.
19. John Salley
Hey look, John Salley won four NBA championships during his career. That’s as many as Tony Parker, Shaquille O’Neal, and Manu Ginobili. Four more than Karl Malone and John Stockton! More then LeBron James so far, too!
The 11th-overall pick of the 1986 Draft by the Detroit Pistons, Salley won a pair of championships with the Pistons (in 1989 and 1990). He averaged seven points-per-game and 7.2 points-per-game in 1989 and 1990, respectively. But once Salley joined the 2000 Lakers championship team, he wasn’t as effective. Salley only average 1.6 points and 1.4 rebounds-per-game. His free throw shooting wasn’t very great either in his final season, shooting .750.
18. Mitch Richmond
Mitch Richmond would be higher on our list if this was based off of career stats. But by the time he was an NBA champion with the Lakers in 2002, the best of Richmond was well behind him. He lived up to the expectations of being the fifth-overall selection from the 1998 NBA Draft and was a star with the Golden State Warriors and Sacramento Kings. He was a six-time All-Star, 1989 Rookie of the Year, and won the All-Star Game MVP in 1995.
Richmond averaged 21 points-per-game throughout his career, and his story had a happy ending. After playing on a handful of teams that lacked the competitive factor, he gave it one more shot to win a ring by joining the Lakers. He got his ring in 2002 as they completed the three-peat, but he only averaged 4.1 points-per-game. The 16.2 he averaged the season before had been the lowest of his career. So yeah, Richmond didn’t contribute much to this team.
17. Travis Knight
Everything appeared to be up-and-coming for Travis Knight. The Bulls took him 29th-overall in the 1996 Draft after winning their fourth title in the ’90s. But Knight never got to play for the Bulls, who refused to sign him. He joined the Lakers and was part of the 1997 All-Rookie NBA Second Team, even though he posted just 4.8 points-per-game. It moved up to 6.5 when he joined the Boston Celtics the following season.
Knight found himself back with the Lakers for the 1998-99 season. In year two during his second stint with the Lakers, he won that elusive championship ring. That’s when he averaged nothing more than 1.7 points-per-game. But hey, he did shoot a decent .390 from downtown. Knight got his championship ring and was out of the league by 2003.
16. Slava Medvedenko
The 6-feet-10 power forward from Ukraine joined the Lakers as an undrafted free agent after dominating in his home country. The Lakers had high hopes that he could be a star with Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant around his talents. Slava Medvedenko did enjoy some nice moments, but never blossomed into a star. His efforts were still appreciated enough in L.A., since he won a pair of championships with them.
He played just seven games in 2000-01 with the Lakers, but was part of their championship team. He averaged just 4.6 points-per-game that season. He played 71 games the following season, averaging 4.7 points a game. Medvedenko won two championships with the Lakers. He was also part of the 2004 squad that was upset by the Detroit Pistons. Medvedenko finished his career with the Atlanta Hawks in 2007.
15. Isaiah Rider
Isaiah Rider was selected fifth-overall by the Minnesota Timberwolves in the 1993 NBA Draft. He didn’t quite end up being the superstar Minny had hoped for, but there’s no denying he was a solid impact player for large parts of his career. But his best years were definitely not with the Lakers in 2001, when he won his only NBA Championship. The man who scored nearly 17 points a game in his career became forgotten in Los Angeles fairly quickly.
After posting no fewer than 16.1 points-per-game every season of his career, Rider averaged just 7.6 in 67 games with the Lakers in 2000-01. Obviously, this was because the Lakers had a handful of future Hall of Famers. But the fact is that Rider didn’t add too much to the Lakers championship run. But they happily took what he could give to them.
14. Lindsey Hunter
Lindsey Hunter did his job as mainly a bench player. His efforts weren’t that effective with the Lakers (nor any team he played on, for that matter), but he won two NBA championships in his career. So there’s that. Hunter showed signs of being a star with the Detroit Pistons and Milwaukee Bucks, scoring double-digit points-per-game every year from 1996-97 to 2000-01.
When Hunter came to the Lakers, his production dropped off significantly. He went from 10.1 points-per-game in 2000-01 to 5.8 in 2001-02. Like many other Lakers, he saw his scoring go down, given all the talent on the Lakers. He won his first NBA championship there and went back to Detroit. He got revenge on his old team as the Pistons upset the Lakers in the 2004 NBA Finals.
13. Mark Madsen
The Lakers had to be thrilled with getting Mark Madsen 29th-overall in the 2000 NBA Draft. He showed so much potential after winning gold in the 2001 Goodwill Games with the United States. But Madsen never got his career going the way the Lakers had really hoped. He was nothing more than an average bench player. He played in a total of 453 games during his 10 seasons in the NBA.
Madsen was part of the Lakers championship teams in 2001 and 2002. He averaged 2.8 and 3.2 points-per-game, respectively. For that it’s worth, Shaquille O’Neal did say that Madsen was the only guy in practice who could handle his size and all-around dominance. So maybe Madsen wasn’t as bad of a defender as some may believe.
12. Samaki Walker
Samaki Walker came from a stacked 1996 NBA Draft that included Allen Iverson, Shareef Abdur-Raheem, Stephon Marbury, Ray Allen, Antoine Walker, Kobe Bryant, Peja Stojakovic, Steve Nash, Jermaine O’Neal, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Derek Fisher, and others. But Walker wasn’t even close to being a star like all of those guys were. But this draft did include three future Lakers who would be parts of a dynasty.
Walker was drafted by the Dallas Mavericks and bounced around from team-to-team. He played for six teams during a decade in the NBA. No doubt his best days were with the Lakers when he won the NBA Championship in 2002. He put up a decent 6.7 points-per-game as a bench player. His seven rebounds-per-game were the second-highest of his career. Walker was more of a standout on defence and contributed nicely to the Lakers championship in 2002.
11. Horace Grant
Horace Grant was a four-time NBA Champion in his career, part of the Chicago Bulls original three-peat in the ’90s (91-93). He made the All-Star Game in 1994 and was a four-time member of the NBA All-Defensive Second Team. From 1988-89 to 1997-98, Grant easily averaged over double-digit points a game.
By the time he joined the Lakers, Grant was a solid, but less effective player. During the 2000-01, he put up 8.5 points and 7.1 rebounds-per-game with the Lakers. Grant’s big size and frame made him effective around the ring as the Lakers dominated every offence they faced.Grant returned to the Lakers in 2003-04 after two years in Orlando, but his bid to win a fifth ring failed when the Pistons upset Los Angeles in five games.
10. Devean George
Before I saw Devean George’s name for the first time, the only way I knew that name was spelled was either “Devon,” or “Devin.” Moving to stuff less important, George was actually a very decent standout with the Lakers, where he was a member of that three-peat. George’s stats offensively weren’t great, but his 235-pound frame made him a vital defender on the Lakers.
He never averaged more than 7.4 points or four rebounds-per-game in a season, but he was a career .392 shooter from three-pointers. George never contributed much on the offensive sheet either. But man, that guy could handle the opposition’s elite stars. George nearly won a fourth championship with the Lakers in 2004. Again, those Pistons prevented that. George was out of the NBA by 2008, finishing his career with the Dallas Mavericks. But Lakers fans only have fond memories of him.
9. Brian Shaw
This isn’t the guy who lost Game 7 of the 2016 World Series. This is a man who was a solid standout who was able to play both shooting guard and point guard. He was selected 24th-overall by the Boston Celtics in the 1988 NBA Draft. But the Celtics didn’t plan on having him win three NBA championships with the Los Angeles Lakers, their arch-rivals. But it was Shaw who got the last laugh.
The former Denver Nuggets head coach (a tenure to forget, by the way) averaged seven points-per-game in his career. Shaw even won a championship ring in 2009 and 2010 as a member of the Lakers coaching staff both years. Shaw just wasn’t able to maximize his full potential on a star-studded Lakers team. But when all was said and done, he was part of their three-peat. How many NBA players can say that?
8. Ron Harper
The star out of Dayton, Ohio wasn’t what you would call a superstar. But he’s someone you’d call a winner. That’s life for Harper, who was a member of five NBA Championship teams during his career. The first three came in the Chicago Bulls’ second repeat of the ’90s. Harper was averaging nearly 20 points-per-game for the first nine seasons of his career. But by the time he was an NBA Champion, his stats declined significantly.
Harper enjoyed a near-perfect end to his career, however. He won five NBA rings through his final six seasons. Those last two came in 2000 and 2001 with the Lakers. By then, he was just a veteran on the bench, averaging no more than seven points-per-game. But Harper’s championship experience and leadership played a big role for the Lakers championships. So we give him a fairly high ranking here.
7. Tyronn Lue
Most of the younger generation will remember Tyronn Lue as either A) a standout on the Atlanta Hawks for a number of years or B) The guy who replaced David Blatt and coached the Cleveland Cavaliers to a 2016 NBA Championship. Lue placed on a Lakers superteam and was able to help his Cavs rally from a 3-1 deficit to win it all. All of that experience as a Laker sure helped.
Lue only played three seasons with the Lakers, but won the NBA Championship with them in 2000 and 2001. This was before he became a star, though. He averaged no more than six points-per-game in his three seasons with L.A. He was a career .391 three-point shooter, though. That’s where he was most effective in his career.
6. Glen Rice
No doubt that Glen Rice lived up to the hype as the fourth-overall selection from the 1989 Draft. He played 16 seasons in the NBA and averaged 18.3 points-per-game during his career, where he played on six different teams. Rice was also a three-time NBA All Star and was the league’s three-point shooting champion in 1995.
After spending so many frustrating seasons with mediocre teams, Rice jumped to Laker Land in 1998. In his second season with the team, he won his only NBA Championship. Rice averaged 15.9 points-per-game that season and 12.4 points a game in the playoffs. Rice was an integral part of providing depth to the Lakers team. He brought his A-game when they needed it most. The Lakers really needed that during their 2001 championship season.
5. Rick Fox
There are two reasons why I love Rick Fox. 1) He was one of the first people from my home country of Canada to win an NBA championship. 2) He played Clyde ‘Sweet Feet’ Livingston in one of my favorite childhood films, Holes. But his NBA career was actually pretty solid. He just didn’t shine as much as the other Laker stars.
The Toronto native was another Boston Celtics draft pick that ended up succeeding most on the Lakers. Fox only put up double-digit points in one season with the Lakers, but his slick free-throw shooting and reliability to shoot field goals made him a go-to-guy. He averaged 10 points a game during the 2001 playoffs and followed it up with 9.8 in the 2002 playoffs.
4. Robert Horry
Robert Horry was one of the best players you didn’t pay much attention to. He was a seven-time NBA Champion. He won his first two with the Houston Rockets in 1994 and 1995, was part of the Lakers’ three-peat and won two more with the San Antonio Spurs in 2005 and 2007. Playing with Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal, Tim Duncan, Hakeem Olajuwon, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili made it impossible for Horry to stand out.
But Horry was one of the most clutch players of his time, evidenced by the seven championship rings with three different powerhouses. Horry cemented his legacy by drilling a buzzer-beating three-pointer in Game 4 of the 2002 Western Conference Finals against the Sacramento Kings. He nearly averaged double-digit points in all three championships with the Lakers during the playoffs. But it was his clutch three-point shooting that made him a forgotten icon in Laker Land.
3. Derek Fisher
Wherever Derek Fisher went, he was a star. He just didn’t get the recognition as much. During his glorious days with the Lakers (where he was part of the three-peat), he was overshadowed by O’Neal and Bryant. When he was with the Golden State Warriors, Baron Davis and Jason Richardson earned more attention. When he was with the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2012, there was no overshadowing the big three of Kevin Durant, James Harden, and Russell Westbrook.
But Fisher’s size made him a huge part of the Lakers’ success. He didn’t make much of an impact in 2000, but broke out in 2001 with 11.5 points-per-game. He then posted 11.2 points-per-game the next season. He averaged 13.4 points-per-game in 16 playoff games during 2001. The Lakers lost ONE playoff game that whole season, capping off a successful repeat, thanks in large part to Fisher’s success.
2. Kobe Bryant
It wasn’t easy putting Kobe Bryant at number two. Before you lose your mind on me, please read this and then skip to the number one choice on our list. The man’s name is obvious, but it’s not James Bond.
Bryant was an integral part of the Lakers’ dangerous dual. In the Lakers first season of the three-peat, he averaged 22.5 points-per-game, followed by 28.5 the next championship season and finally 25.2. Bryant’s field goal shooting percentage was no lower than .464 during those three seasons. He averaged 29.4 points-per-game during the Lakers’ 2001 championship season. He and Shaquille O’Neal needed each other to succeed. But it just happened so that Bryant wasn’t quite as dominant as Shaq during the NBA Finals. Allow us to explain on the next slide.
1. Shaquille O’Neal
This was extremely tough to put Bryant at number two instead of one. Even though the Lakers were a powerhouse without O’Neal for almost a decade, it was Shaq who won the three NBA Finals MVPs. Consider these stats. During the Lakers three-peat, Shaq averaged 29.7, 28.7, and 27.2 points-per game in 2000, 2001, and 2002, respectively. Bryant averaged 22.5, 28.5 and 25.2, respectively. O’Neal’s 13.6, 12.7, and 10.7 rebounds per game over those three seasons were extremely vital to the Lakers.
And you really can’t dispute that Kobe was more valuable when O’Neal won the Finals MVP Award during that three-peat. In the 2000 playoffs, he averaged 30.7 points-per-game, followed by 30.4 in the following playoffs and finally 28.5 in the next. Shaq was the Lakers go-to-player during the three-peat. And without a doubt, he’s number one on this list.
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