Ranking the Most Embarrassing Moments in Lakers History
The Los Angeles Lakers are one of the most legendary and storied franchises in NBA history, but today was just plain embarrassing for them. Head coach Mike Brown was fired just five games into the season and replaced by assistant Bernie Bickerstaff on an interim basis. On a team known for featuring some of the best coaches in league history, Brown wrote his ticket off that list by losing his job today.
However, Brown's brief tenure as coach of the Lakers is not the worst thing to happen to the team. In fact, it's pretty tame. Over the past few decades, the Los Angeles Lakers have seen their fair share of adversity along with some fine moments of greatness.
Like any other team in a similar situation, they moved on from the embarrassing moment in question and came out all the better.
Thus, if Brown were to just look through the pages of Lakers history, chances are he would feel a little better about his job situation once he was done.
No. 6: Mike Brown's Firing
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Mike Brown had some pretty big shoes to fill when the Lakers hired him to replace Phil Jackson following the 2010-11 season. His predecessor had won five championships with the team, so the fans would demand success right from the start.
The former Cleveland Cavaliers coach went 41-25 in his first and only full season with the Lakers, finishing first in the Pacific Division and making it to the Conference Semis before losing to the Oklahoma City Thunder, who went on to represent the Western Conference in the NBA Finals.
However, things changed this season after the Lakers brought in Steve Nash to run the point and Dwight Howard to play center. Rather than form an offensive formula to best suit each players' strong points, Brown instead opted to use the Princeton offense and completely commit to defense.
As a result, the team started the season 1-4 and Brown was fired today, with his brief Lakers career ending with a 42-29 record.
It wasn't the worst thing to happen to the team, but the fact that his final 48 hours as coach were headlined by a Kobe Bryant "death stare" made his exit pretty bad.
No. 5: The 2004 NBA Finals
When the Lakers made it to the 2004 NBA Finals, they were looking to win their fourth championship in five years and the fourth under Phil Jackson. This team was different from the others, however, as Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant had some extra help in the starting lineup.
Joining the deadly tandem was Karl Malone at power forward and Gary Payton at point guard, both of whom came to LA in search of a ring.
Unfortunately for the high-scoring Lakers, their opponent was the Larry Brown-led, defense-oriented Detroit Pistons. From the opening tip, it was clear which team was going to be the last one standing.
The Pistons controlled the series from start to finish before finishing the Lakers off in five games. Shortly afterward, O'Neal could no longer handle feuding with Bryant and asked to be traded. He got his wish and was sent to the Miami Heat.
Now, while the Pistons were clearly the better team from the start, would it have killed the Lakers to lose each of the four games by less than a combined 49 points? Needless to say, there is little good that can be said about their effort in this postseason series.
No. 4: Dennis Rodman's Short Tenure
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Shortly before the start of the lockout-shortened 1998-99 NBA season, the Chicago Bulls released Dennis Rodman so that they could begin their rebuilding phase. He ended up signing with the Los Angeles Lakers and while he averaged 11.2 rebounds per game for them, he just wasn't the same player.
Rodman appeared in just 23 games and averaged a mere 2.1 points, taking just two field goal attempts per contest. It was as though he had lost his passion and wasn't even trying. Sure enough, he was released and remains one of the strangest front office decisions in team history today.
No. 3: Game 6 of the 2008 Finals
With Phil Jackson at the helm and Pau Gasol helping Kobe Bryant out, the Lakers got back to the NBA Finals in 2008 for the first time since losing to the Pistons in 2004. They were ranked No. 1 in the Western Conference and faced a fellow No. 1 team in the Boston Celtics, who had come far on the backs of their killer trio of Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce.
Unfortunately, fate was not on the Lakers' side as the Celtics were just too fast and strong for them. Even after winning Game 5 and forcing a Game 6, Kobe & Co. just couldn't seal the deal.
Boston got off to a great start in Game 6 with the help of some home-court advantage and outscored Los Angeles 34-15 in the second quarter and 42-32 in the last frame. At the final buzzer, Boston had won 131-92 and the championship was theirs.
The Lakers would get some redemption by winning championships each of the next two seasons, but this loss still hurts a lot.
No. 2: Kobe Bryant's 2003 Arrest
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The summer of 2003 was a tough one for Kobe Bryant. Not only did he have to watch the rival San Antonio Spurs win an NBA championship instead of his Lakers, but he was also arrested in Colorado on July 7.
According to a woman working at the hotel where Bryant was staying, the All-Star guard had sexually assaulted her in his room a few nights before. Bryant admitted having sex with the woman, but claimed it was consensual.
What ensued was a long and drawn-out process that ultimately resulted in the charges being dropped because of Bryant's accuser being unwilling to testify. She instead pursued a civil case that was settled out of court.
Overall, it's clear that Bryant has moved on from this incident as it did not affect his standing in the league or on his team. However, the case itself was a black mark on the Lakers franchise that may never be washed away.
No. 1: The Punch
Fights between opposing players during a game is embarrassing in any professional sport, but this incident takes the cake. It occurred on December 9, 1977, when the Houston Rockets came to Los Angeles to face the Lakers.
While Lakers center Kareem Abdul Jabbar got into a shoving match with Rockets center Kevin Kunnert, star guard Rudy Tomjanovich rushed up the court to help his teammate. Waiting for him was 6'8", 230 pound Kermit Washington, who punched Tomjanovich square in the jaw.
Tomjanjovich was able to get up and walk around, but the actual damage was far worse. The punch had caused a concussion and broken his nose and jaw. Worst of all, his brain was leaking spinal fluid into his mouth. He did not play another game that season and was never the same.
Washington was suspended for 60 days and subsequently traded to the Boston Celtics, the consequences of his fateful punch following him for the rest of his playing days.