Jerry West Considers Kobe Bryant the Greatest Laker Ever

by December 07, 2012

It’s a never-ending debate: who is the greatest Los Angeles Laker of all time? The choices are plentiful — Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe Bryant and a few others could all make the claim — but according to Jerry West, the title goes to the Black Mamba. Per USA Today: “West, the former Lakers general manager who brought Bryant to Laker Land as a rookie in 1996 by way of the trade with the Charlotte Hornets for Vlade Divac, would consider Bryant the best Laker of all time even if he quit tomorrow. His sentiment echoed that of Magic Johnson, the five-time champion who reiterated his stance on ESPN on Wednesday night that Bryant was the best of all the Lakers. West, who is now a consultant for the Golden State Warriors, said he viewed Abdul-Jabbar and Chamberlain differently because they didn’t play their entire careers with the Lakers but he clearly sees Bryant above Johnson and himself on the Lakers’ long list of greats. ‘What he has accomplished with this team, I don’t think there’s any question in my mind at this point in time – because of him being with this team for his whole career – that he has been the greatest Laker player,’ West – who earned 14 All-Star berths, one championship, one MVP and made nine Finals appearances – said. ‘I do think he’s the greatest Laker player we’ve ever seen.’ As for the scoring record and whether Bryant will pursue it, West doesn’t see him chasing the mark unless he’s still playing at the highest level. ‘The one thing he’s been able to avoid are really serious injuries,’ West said. ‘That is a factor in anyone’s success…(But) he’s not going to go out there and play – like a lot of guys do – past their prime, trying to chase a record. I don’t think that’s who he is, at the end of the day. I just think that he’s just one of those guys who loves to compete, loves to win, understands that he’s been doing it for so long, at a high level, and now the team hasn’t played as well as (they were expected to). Does that wear on him? I’m sure. And then having you guys ask him the question, ‘How long will you play?’ I think he’ll play as long as he feels like he can play like he is right now, and then he will move away from it.'”