But there have been a number of standout Lakers over the years who will never have their numbers retired or have statues erected in their honor - call them the Lakers' Forgotten Studs.
Today's installment: Norm Nixon
An Immediate Impact
Norm Nixon was the Lakers' first round draft pick (22nd overall) in the 1977 NBA draft. Nixon ended up spending six full seasons in Los Angeles during which he became an All-Star and two-time NBA champion.
The 6'2" guard made an immediate impact as a rookie by averaging 13.7 points, 3.0 rebounds, 6.8 assists, and 1.7 steals. For his stellar play Nixon was selected as a member of the 1978 NBA All-Rookie 1st Team.
His 6.8 assists as a rookie ranked fourth in the league.
An All-Star Lakers' Legacy
During his six years with the Lakers he put up solid statistics in just about every facet of the game:
Norm Nixon, Lakers - 1978-1983: 16.4 PTS, 2.7 REB, 7.9 AST, 1.8 STL, 50% FG
Because of his strong overall play as a Laker, Nixon was selected as an NBA All-Star in 1982.
Even though he shared the backcourt with Magic Johnson starting in 1980, he still finished among the NBA's Top-10 leaders in assists in each of his six years as a Laker.
His career 8.3 assists per game is 10th best in NBA history.
Nixon was also a lockdown defensive player finishing first in the league in total steals in 1979 and tenth in 1981.
Bringing Titles Back to Tinseltown
Once Magic Johnson joined the Lakers in the 1980 season, the core of Magic, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Jamaal Wilkes, and Norm Nixon would go on to form a dynasty.
In 1980 the Lakers went 60-22 and won the NBA title thanks in large part to Nixon's 17.6 points, 7.8 assists, 1.8 steals, and 52% field goal percentage, numbers he essentially replicated in the playoffs that year.
The 1982 championship team also featured the core of Magic, Kareem, Wilkes, and Nixon. Norm was absolutely outstanding in the 1982 playoffs as he averaged 20.4 points, 8.1 assists, and 1.6 steals in helping lead the Lakers to the title.
Never Forgetting Norm Nixon
It is fair to call him the forgotten Laker.
While Magic, Kareem, and Jamaal Wilkes have been immortalized with retired jerseys and Hall-of-Fame inductions, Nixon has not received any of these honors.
A strong case could be made for Norm entering the Hall of Fame.
During the course of his 10-year career he averaged 15.7 points on 48% shooting, his 8.3 assists per game is 10th best in NBA history, and he was a two-time All-Star and NBA champion.
The case should also be made for the Lakers to retire his number in honor of his outstanding play in bringing two titles to Los Angeles.
Even though the NBA and the Lakers organization seem to have forgotten Norm Nixon, I never will.
Andrew Sweat is a die-hard Lakers fan. For more from this author, visit Andrew's archive or check these out articles:
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