The 8 Most Embarrassing Lakers of All Time
No matter how iconic the storied Los Angeles Lakers franchise is, it has not been immune to embarrassing moments and embarrassing players.
Today's followers of the purple and gold should consider themselves lucky. Whether you count yourself among the longtime faithful or have recently hopped aboard their ever-expanding basketball bandwagon, the current Lakers roster has enough high powered, high priced, legendary talent to satisfy even the most fickle of fans.
That wasn't always the case; the Lakers have seen their fair share of players who should have sought out another career. Like accountant, casino pit boss or circus performer.
In addition to physical size, you also need an oversized ego to play in the NBA. But that alone does not turn you into Kobe Bryant or Magic Johnson. Or even Mark "Mad Dog" Madsen (not on the list, but given consideration).
To make it in the NBA, you first need talent. Some of the most embarrassing Lakers actually had talent; they just left their common sense at the door.
One in particular, and he's on this list, was often described as "colorful." I would call him bizarre and a bit off-kilter. Well, a lot off-kilter.
We sought out the most embarrassing Lakers; there's more than enough of them to form a starting lineup with three in reserve. They've embarrassed their teammates, the fans and, at times, even themselves.
Sometimes it was their play (or lack thereof), while other times it was because they did stupid or inappropriate things.
This is not a list you'd campaign to be on. But, in this offseason of Lakers delight, we thought it would be fun to take a nostalgic look at eight former Lakers who shall forever remain "the most embarrassing" in team history.
Or, until the next one comes along.
8. Sam Bowie: Once a Prodigy, Injuries Reduced Him to Being a Lost Laker
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There seems to be a minor curse built around being the second pick in the NBA draft. In fact, there's even a website developed around that very premise and it's called "sonofsambowie.com."
As in Sam Bowie, our first choice for inclusion on the All Time List of Most Embarrassing Lakers.
Here is a player who came into the NBA with all sorts of fanfare, so much so that he was drafted ahead of Michael Jordan by the Portland Trail Blazers in 1984.
By the time the oft injured, 7-1, 235-pound center landed in Los Angeles, Sam Bowie was nearing the end of what had become a mediocre 10-year career. Bowie has often been called the biggest draft bust in history.
As a member of the Lakers, Bowie was all but invisible, even though he was the second highest-paid player on the team at the time.
Bowie averaged just 8.9 points in 25 games in 1993-94 and an embarrassing 4.6 points and 18 minutes in 67 games in 1994-95, his last as a Laker and last in the league.
This was not the way Bowie wanted to be remembered. My guess is that many Lakers fans tried really hard over the years to forget he even played in L.A.
Sam Bowie did not leave a mark in L.A. He just left.
7. Benoit Benjamin: Where's the Passion?
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Benjamin was the No. 3 pick in the 1985 draft by the L.A. Clippers and was an above average, 7-foot center for about six years. But like Sam Bowie, he never lived up to all the hype and by the time he was traded to Seattle, Benjamin's career was headed downward fast.
Benjamin came from the Sonics to the Lakers in 1993 and played in just the final 28 games for L.A. as they stumbled and fumbled their way to a very pedestrian 39-43 campaign.
Austin Burton of Dimemag wrote about Benoit Benjamin as one of the five worst players in Sonics history, so you can imagine what he was like as a member of the Lakers:
"Benoit played basketball with all the enthusiasm of a man who’s been holding his wife’s purse at the mall for three hours. I’ve had kids at Subway make my sandwich with more fire in their belly.”
In 28 games for Los Angeles, Benjamin averaged just 4.5 points in less than 11 minutes per game. He was only 28 at the time and the team expected so much more from him but his lack of dedication and lackadaisical play led the Lakers to send him packing to the Nets after that very forgettable season.
Benjamin was a major disappointment on the court and is probably better (or worse) remembered for a 1990 incident in which a man described as 5"6" and 135 pounds forced the 250-pound center at gunpoint to relinquish the keys to his $75,000 car.
6. Chuck Nevitt: Affable Guy, Terrible Laker
Chuck Nevitt made a career out of being really tall. As in 7'5" tall.
He just couldn't play basketball very well. Teams like the Lakers used to hire him to serve as the practice center and he was able to turn that skill into a career that surprisingly lasted nine years.
"My job was preparing the other guys," Nevitt told Pablo S. Torre of Sports Illustrated online in an interview last year. "And I was fine with that."
Known as the Human Victory Cigar because teams liked to put him into the game at the end of blowouts, Nevitt was always a really nice guy who happily took what was given him in the NBA.
Playing for the Lakers, Nevitt averaged just under six minutes in just 15 games for the team. He did score a few points: 1.1 in 11 games in 1984 and 2.5 in four games in 1985.
I first met Nevitt when he played high school basketball in Marietta, Ga., and it was obvious then - although a very nice guy, he looked like a science experiment gone wrong. Somehow, he made it all the way to a major college and then to the NBA.
It must have been a thrill for Nevitt to be a part of the Lakers, brief as it was. But as a basketball player for this iconic franchise, it was an embarrassment.
5. Adam Morrison: $10 Million to Sit on the Bench and Clap
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Most of these players start out looking pretty good; otherwise, they wouldn't be drafted by the NBA and given millions of dollars. Adam Morrison was a college superstar at Gonzaga when he was drafted No. 3 in 2006 by Charlotte.
Morrison averaged a respectable 12 points per game for Charlotte his rookie season and his future seemed bright. He then tore up a knee in a preseason game in 2007 while guarding former Lakers forward Luke Walton. He never seemed the same after that.
Morrison and Shannon Brown were traded to the Lakers in 2009 for Vladimir Radmanovic. In his two seasons in L.A., Morrison won two world championship rings, though he had little to do with it other than playing cheerleader on the bench.
Morrison averaged about six minutes a game those last few games with the Lakers in 2009 and the following season when they won another title, this time over Boston. But the former Gonzaga star could not make shots to save his life and his Laker career ended with a whimper.
After playing overseas, Morrison returned this summer and joined the Clippers Summer League team. In five games, the 6'8" forward seemed to regain some of that lost magic, averaging 20 points and five rebounds on 55 percent shooting.
Morrison is also famous for having cried on the court as his college team lost in the final seconds of the NCAA tournament to rival UCLA. But, despite a tortuous Lakers career, Adam Morrison may just have the last laugh.
4. Kwame Brown: Worst Big Man in Lakers History?
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He looks like he's concentrating in the photo, but Kwame Brown's look of intensity was all a ruse. This guy may have been the worst Lakers big man in franchise history.
He may also have been the biggest draft bust; Brown was the No. 1 overall pick of Washington back in 2001.
Brown recently signed to play with the Sixers this coming season; he'll back up Andrew Bynum.
In two and a half frustrating seasons (2005-08) with the Lakers, the 6'11", 270-pound Brown never averaged more than 8.4 points per game as its starting center.
Following in the footsteps of the Big Diesel (Shaquille O'Neal) was not easy, but Brown was beyond mediocre, he was the Big Disappointment.
As big as Brown was, he was the Big Soft in the paint, never averaging more than 6.5 rebounds per game.
Brown also was a terrible free throw shooter, despite the focused look. Terrible as in 50 percent terrible.
The Lakers gave up on Kwame Brown midway through the 2007-08 season. What a waste. What an embarrassment.
3. Smush Parker: Blame It All on Kobe Bryant?
William Henry "Smush" Parker did have some talent and could shoot the basketball. His problem was that he thought he was much better than he really was and tended to make big mistakes at critical times.
Smush Parker could be called an enigma. He's probably been called much worse by supporters of Kobe Bryant, who remain angry with Parker today for some of the comments the former Laker directed towards their hero.
Parker was Phil Jackson's starting point guard for the 2005 and 2006 Lakers, playing in 162 straight games and averaging 11.5 points. He lost his starting job to Jordan Farmar at the end of the 2006-07 season and in the playoffs.
His biggest problem was his over blown ego. He never did get along with Bryant and the two traded barbs during and after the time they played together. That's something you just don't do if you play for the Lakers.
2. Wes Matthews Sr.: You Can't Fight If You Don't Play
Wes Matthews was a slightly above-average playmaker who spent two of his final NBA years in Los Angeles with the Lakers. They were not memorable from a performance standpoint.
But what does stand out is the comment Matthews made back in 1987 after he and Xavier McDaniel of Seattle tussled in a game. McDaniel was photographed choking Matthews.
"I can't wait to play him again, because his bald head is mine," Matthews was quoted as saying after that incident which, if it happened today, would get a player suspended.
The problem was that the next time the two met, Matthews didn't get into the game until the final two minutes. Nothing happened but it certainly was an embarrassing moment for Matthews and for Lakers fans.
1. Dennis Rodman: Who Else?
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Dennis Rodman was a tremendous defensive basketball player in his day, especially when he played in Chicago with Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen. The superb rebounding forward (13.2 per game career average) was good enough to be elected into the Basketball Hall of Fame.
But during his brief stint with the Lakers, Rodman was the epitome of bad taste, bad judgment and bizarre behavior.
Signed by the Lakers in February 1999, the flamboyant Rodman played in all of 23 games for L.A. and averaged 11.2 rebounds. He also missed four games and failed to reenter another four.
When Rodman showed up for a practice in April without socks and shoes, management had had enough. After just 51 days with the Lakers, Dennis Rodman was released.