The Los Angeles Lakers have always treated their past stars very well and given them their flowers. They retired Shaquille O’Neal’s jersey in 2013, even though he left the team in 2004 on bad terms and regularly took shots at it and Kobe Bryant afterward.
Earlier this year, they raised Pau Gasol’s No. 16 to the wall of Crypto.com Arena once he got elected into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
Recently, owner Jeanie Buss said there is “no doubt” that the organization will retire LeBron James’ jersey once he retires and gets inducted into the Hall of Fame.
Former Lakers role player and clutch shooter extraordinaire Robert Horry said that if the franchise retires James’ jersey, it should do the same for Michael Cooper, who was a big part of its Showtime squads of the 1980s.
Via Fadeaway World:
“I base everything off Michael Cooper. You know, it is just so hard for me when you retire a guy’s number and you don’t retire Michael Cooper’s number. And it is just, to me, it don’t…nobody should go before him. You know, two-time Defensive Player of the Year, help win championships. He always guarded the people that Magic [Johnson] couldn’t.”
“It’s just so many things that, you know, and that goes to show you have people in the league and NBA and across. They don’t appreciate defense unless you’re Ben Wallace or Dennis Rodman. And I just think that if you retire LeBron’s jersey, you gotta retire Michael Cooper’s ‘cause he’s just a Laker legend to me.”
Traditionally, the Lakers have retired a player’s number if he reaches the Hall of Fame and played at an All-Star level while with them. Cooper may not have been an All-Star, but he was a multi-faceted role player throughout the 1980s. He played several different positions, including backup point guard, was an exciting finisher at the rim, an outstanding 3-point shooter and one of the NBA’s best defensive players.
For his accomplishments in the NBA and contributions elsewhere, including as the head coach of the WNBA’s Los Angeles Sparks, whom he led to back-to-back championships, Cooper has been nominated for the Hall of Fame multiple times. If he ever gets the nod to be inducted, perhaps his No. 21 jersey will be immortalized at Crypto.com Arena.
Story originally appeared on LeBron Wire