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The deal, which was reportedly done shortly after 11:pm EST, saw the “Purple and Gold” part with only one player, Andrew Bynum, who was sent to the 76ers.
For as long as one can remember, The Lakers have, in most circles, been considered to golden standard of the NBA, by demonstrating a will to win by filling its roster with the league’s premier talent.
Howard’s acquisition is another in a long line of great centers who have landed in Los Angeles after departing their respective teams over the past five decades.
Here’s the list:
Wilt Chamberlain (1968-1973)
On July 9, 1968, the All-star Center was dealt from the Philadelphia 76ers to Los Angeles as the reigning NBA Most Valuable Player. Chamberlain had led the Sixers to the 1967 NBA Championship. He is to this day the NBA record holder for most point in a game — scoring 100 in 1962 as a member of the Philadelphia Warriors.
The deal that landed “The Big Dipper” in LA, saws center Darrall Imhoff (the unfortunate ex-Knicks center who started against Chamberlain when the latter scored 100 points), forward Jerry Chambers and guard Archie Clark to Philadelphia, an underwhelming transaction to say the least.
Chamberlain helped the Lakers win their first NBA title in 1972. He would retire from the league a year later.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (1975-1989)
In 1975, the Lakers acquired Kareem Abdul-Jabbar( formerly known as Lew Alcindor Jr.) from the Milwaukee Bucks after requesting to be moved due to his belief that the Midwest didn’t suit his “cultural needs.” The deal was for center Elmore Smith, guard Brian Winters, and rookies Dave Meyers and Junior Bridgeman. He had led the Bucks to their only championship in 1971.
In his first season in Los Angeles, Abdul-Jabbar lead the team in scoring, rebounding, blocked shots, and minutes played. He would continue to have personal success, however, the Lakers would struggle in the playoffs. The team would finally breakthrough and win its second title during the 1980 season, after drafting Magic Johnson.
Abdul-Jabbar would go on the win a total of five titles with the Lakers (six overall), a record six MVPs, and would set the league record for most career points scored with 38,387 — a feat that still stands today.
Shaquille O’Neal (1996-2004)
During the summer of 1996, there were a number of top-tier free agents available, Shaquille O’Neal was one of them. He was selected to the 1996 Dream Team, the USA Basketball squad who represented the nation at the Olympics that summer in Atlanta. During the team’s first full day, O’Neal announced that he’d be leaving the Orlando Magic to join the Lakers as a free agent, signing a seven-year $121 million deal.
As the story goes, O’Neal had grown frustrated in Orlando due to he belief that the team’s coach, Brian Hill, was not respected. He was also not happy with a poll taken in the local paper asking if fans thought he was worth the $115 million that the Magic had offered. However, the straw that broke the camel’s back was after he’d learned that teammate, Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway consider himself the team’s leader and didn’t want O’Neal to make more money than him.
In O’Neal’s first season in Los Angeles, he was paired with rookie Kobe Bryant, and averaged 26.2 points and 12.5 rebounds as the Lakers won 56 games. However, they were eliminated in the second round of the playoffs by the Utah Jazz. This would be a reoccurring theme for the “Lake Show” who would suffer premature playoff exits in each of the next two seasons, both in sweeps.
The Lakers would finally breakthrough in 2000, after the team hired Phil Jackson as coach, winning the title over the Indiana Pacers. O’Neal was named league MVP and Finals MVP. While teamed with Bryant, the Lakers would go on to win two more consecutive titles, becoming only the third franchise in league history to win three straight or “three-peat.”
Pau Gasol (2008 – Present)
In February of 2008, the Lakers acquired Pau Gasol from the Memphis Grizzlies for or Kwame Brown, Javaris Crittenton, Aaron McKie, the rights to Marc Gasol (his younger brother), and 2008 and 2010 first round draft picks.
The elder Gasol left Memphis as the franchise’s leader in 12 statistical categories, which include: games played, minutes played, field goals made and attempted, free throws made and attempted, offensive, defensive, and total rebounds, blocked shots, turnovers, and points.
In his first game as a Laker, Gasol scored 24 points and collected 12 rebounds in a win over the New Jersey Nets.
After finishing at the bottom of the Western Conference playoffs standing and being ousted in the first round by the Phoenix Suns in the previous two seasons, the Lakers decided to pull off the Gasol deal after Andrew Bynum had been lost due to injury. The move proved to help the up-and-coming Lakers, who would go on to win 57 games while finishing atop the conference standings.
With the help of Gasol, the Lakers would make it to the 2008 NBA Finals, only to lose to the Boston Celtics 4-2. However, the team would eventually win back-to-back titles in 2009 and 2010.
Gasol had been rumored to possibly be included in the deal for Dwight Howard, but wasn’t.
With the deal for Howard now just pending league approval, it’s only a matter of time before the official announcement is made. With that being said, the new “Superman” will have some big shoes to fill in Tinseltown.
Written by Rashid Umar