To celebrate Magic Johnson’s 59th birthday, NBA.com’s Micah Adams provides the perfect gift: an all-time Lakers roster perfectly tailored to play alongside the Magic Man.
Headlining the starting lineup is the 1986-87 league MVP version of Johnson and two of the Lakers’ biggest free agent acquisitions: 2018-19 LeBron James and 1996-97 Shaquille O’Neal. Adams notes that selecting James for this lineup is essentially a no-brainer:
James is quite possibly the perfect running mate for Johnson. If you were doing this exercise regardless of franchise, the current version of James — perhaps at his mental peak and with an off-the-charts basketball IQ — might be the No. 1 overall pick.
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The rationale behind choosing a younger Shaq came down to two attributes: athleticism and agility.
I wanted the closest thing to Orlando Magic Shaq as possible, you know, the one that ran the break with Penny Hardaway and was more Superman than Diesel. While watching early 2000s Shaq catch the ball on the block, drop the shoulder and dunk was fun, I think Johnson wants to do more than throw the big fella entry passes.
A 24-year-old Kobe Bryant and 26-year-old Jerry West round out an all-time starting lineup that epitomizes the “Showtime” brand of basketball.
To complete the roster, Adams calls back to LA greats from the past such as Wilt Chamberlain and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in addition to a star of the future in Lonzo Ball.
One thing is for sure: An all-time Lakers roster of any sort is sure to provide entertainment with Magic running the offense.