Gail Goodrich

Guard, #25 (also wore #11 )


He’s a Hall of Famer. His No. 25 jersey hangs from the rafters at Staples Center. He led the Lakers in scoring four years in a row, including a championship season considered one of the best in NBA history. He’s one of the Lakers’ all-time leaders in numerous categories.

All that from a guy known to his Lakers teammates as “Stumpy.”

Not that the name didn’t fit. He was a 5-foot-8, 145-pound junior guard for Poly High when he caught the eye of UCLA Coach John Wooden in 1960. "That little fellow from Poly is the smartest player on the floor," Wooden said at the time, as related in a 1999 article in The Times. Goodrich led Poly to the City championship in 1961 and ended up becoming the leading scorer on Wooden's first two national championship teams at UCLA, scoring a then-record 42 points against Michigan in the 1965 title game.

By the time Goodrich was drafted by the Lakers in 1965, he had grown to 6-1, still small by NBA standards ("Elgin Baylor called me 'Stumpy' because I had short legs and long arms," he told Sports Illustrated in 1998). He was overshadowed by legendary teammates Baylor and Jerry West during his first three years in the league and did not show much star potential until he was drafted by the Phoenix Suns in the 1968 expansion draft.

Goodrich was the Suns' leading scorer both of his years in Phoenix and returned to the Lakers in a trade for Mel Counts in May 1970. This time around Goodrich was ready for the spotlight. The left-handed shooter with a quick release was the top scorer (25.9 points per game) on the 1971-72 team that won 33 straight games, posted a then-record 69-13 record and claimed the franchise's first NBA title since moving to Los Angeles.

An All-Atar from 1972-75, Goodrich continued to lead the Lakers in scoring the next three seasons (23.9 in 1972-73, 25.3 in 1973-74 and 22.6 in 1974-75) and made a league-best 508 free throws in 1973-74.

But after a return to the NBA Finals in 1973, the Lakers' fortunes started to sour -- and, reportedly, so did Goodrich's feelings toward the team. A salary dispute led to his departure from L.A. after the 1975-76 season. He signed with the New Orleans Jazz as a free agent, but the Lakers received compensation -- including the 1979 pick they used to draft Magic Johnson.

Goodrich ranks among the Lakers' all-time best in points scored (eighth, 13,044), points per game (ninth, 19.0), field goals (ninth, 5,107), field goals attempted (seventh, 11,098), free throws (ninth, 2830), free throws attempted (ninth, 3,466) and assists (eighth, 2,863).

After a 14-year NBA career, Goodrich is the league’s 45th all-time leading scorer (19,181). He is also 37th all time in field goals (7,431), 31st in field goals attempted (16,300), 47th in free throws (4,319) and 55th in assists (4,805).

The Lakers retired his jersey on Nov. 20, 1996.

"It doesn't get better than this," Goodrich said. "As I look up there, I see the jerseys of Baylor, Chamberlain, West, Jabbar -- all of whom I had the great fortune to play with -- Magic, Worthy. It is really something, a tremendous honor."

— Chuck Schilken
Feb. 12, 2011