Top 5 NBA teams of all time- #3: 1986-87 Los Angeles Lakers

Top 5 NBA teams of all time- #3: 1986-87 Los Angeles Lakers

In the 1980s, the Los Angeles Lakers were known as the “Showtime Lakers.” They won four championships over the course of ten years and completely dominated the National Basketball Association (NBA). Of those four championship teams, the 1986-87 Lakers were the elite. When the phrase “Showtime Lakers” is mentioned, this team is what represents it best.

After a tough loss in the 1986 NBA Finals to its rival, the Boston Celtics, the Lakers were seeking revenge during the 1986-87 basketball season. The Lakers-Celtics rivalry is to this day one of the great rivalries in all sports. Losing in the NBA Finals was bad enough, but it made it even worse losing to the Celtics. The Lakers were not going to let anything get in their way of a championship. During the 1986-87 regular season, the Lakers won 65 of 82 games, clinching first place in the western conference and having the best overall record in the NBA, which was even better than the Celtics. This was the start, but they still had their eyes on the prize: NBA Champions.

This Lakers team was one of the most successful teams ever, which is why they rank number three on my list. However, just like most teams, their success was because of their extremely talented roster and chemistry. To begin, this team had both the regular season MVP and the Finals MVP in Magic Johnson. The 6 foot 9 inch point guard was unstoppable, and although listed as a point guard, he could play any position on the court. In addition to Magic, the Lakers had star center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the league’s all-time leading scorer. Kareem’s signature shot, the “sky hook”, was unblockable, and he sank the shot at an unbelievable rate. Other notable names on the roster included James Worthy, Michael Cooper, Byron Scott, and Kurt Rambis. These players not only had skill but also unbelievable chemistry. In addition to this, they knew how to get a bucket at will and how to get a stop when needed. They were very physical and even dirty at times. To keep the players in check, Pat Riley coached them to near perfection. Pat Riley is one of the winningest coaches of all time, and his coaching most certainly added to the success of this team.

During the playoffs  that season, the Lakers lost only one game en route to the NBA Finals. However, the Lakers were not satisfied, and just like they had expected, they matched up against the Celtics for the 1987 NBA Finals, where they capped off their immaculate season by beating Boston in only six games. This was a remarkable task, for it was rare to beat the Celtics at all, let alone in six games.

The 1986-87 Lakers, although they did not have a perfect season by any means, will forever be remembered as one of the best NBA teams ever. As mentioned in my previous article about the Detroit Pistons, playing in the NBA during the 1980s was an extremely difficult task, as players were bigger, better, and more physical than ever. In order to win, you needed to be better than great, which is exactly what type of team this roster of Lakers was.