Dwight Howard and the 5 Most Publicly Vilified Lakers of All-Time
The Los Angeles Lakers have a long-standing tradition of being one of the best franchises in professional sports. They continually find a way to acquire superstar players and have parlayed their talents into multiple championships.
However, winning comes with a cost and in the Lakers’ case; hatred. There are two types of fans, Lakers fans and fans that hate the Lakers.
Coinciding with the hatred of a franchise is the hatred of that team’s players. The Lakers have set themselves apart from the pack with a slew of publicly vilified players and for good reason. Court cases, in-game brawls and attitude are all reasons for the upcoming players on this list
5. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
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Known for being the NBA’s all-time leading scorer, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar certainly has his naysayers off the court.
Kareem once absolutely hated the attention he received and essentially shut off the outside world from accessing his private life. Perhaps people misunderstood Kareem, but it is more likely that Kareem did not care what other people thought of him.
Take the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City for example.
"The year I was supposed to go was in 1968 at Mexico City," he says. "But I didn't. I didn't feel comfortable representing my country.
"That year Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy were assassinated. I was aware that America was, let us just say, practicing a lot of hypocrisy.
"I was trying to get out of college. I had a good job in New York City. So I went home, worked, saved money so I could get out of university in time and go on with my professional career.
"My own agenda was more important than representing the country."
Abdul-Jabbar, formerly Lew Alcindor, grew up in America during a time where Martin Luther King Jr., Malcom X and Muhammad Ali stood up for the rights of African-Americans. Kareem surely took their thoughts and teachings to heart, but ultimately was misunderstood as he was becoming an American superstar.
Kareem took flack from newspapers and reporters for a multitude of issues, including refusing to stop reading a newspaper while giving an interview.
While Kareem kept the media distant during his career that is no longer the case. He is now one of the foremost ambassador’s of the NBA.
4. Andrew Bynum
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Playing professional sports in the second largest American market, brings a spotlight upon your professional and private life. When that person is a Los Angeles Laker, the spotlight intensifies even more.
Andrew Bynum was seen as a prodigy and the next great Laker center. Drafted out of high school, Bynum was able to adjust to the NBA quickly, finishing his third year scoring 13.1 points and pulling down 10.2 rebounds.
However, one major problem has plagued Bynum since being drafted; injuries. Bynum has played all 82 games only once in his career. While his injuries were dismissed early on, as they began to reoccur and Bynum’s attitude became equally as mystifying, the media took notice.
Bynum missed the entire 2008 postseason, which saw the Lakers fall to their arch-rivals, the Boston Celtics in the NBA Finals.
Since then, Bynum’s laissez-faire attitude has become a huge problem and the injuries have piled up even more. Despite a new start since being traded to Philadelphia, the media is already questioning his passion, much like the Los Angeles media, after a hap-hazard re-injury to his rehabilitated knee.
3. Dwight Howard
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The year long escapade that was coined, “Dwightmare”, finally ended on August 10th. At least that is what everyone thought.
Dwight Howard was the story of the past year, excluding LeBron James winning his first title. After seeing players such as LeBron, Carmelo Anthony and Deron Williams essentially force their way into preferred destinations, Dwight Howard began campaigning for his freedom.
While it was certainly not a surprise that he wanted out of Orlando, Dwight complicated things by consistently flip-flopping between staying in O-town and leaving for greener pastures.
The entire saga alienated the Magic fan base and a once beloved figure in Orlando became it’s Lex Luther.
Eventually, Dwight would be traded to the Los Angeles Lakers and now the questions about him re-signing have circled around the Lakers camp. Nobody knows what Dwight will do, despite his alleged openness to staying in L.A. While it may not be the same saga Orlando went thought, Dwight holds all the cards in this game. It would not be a surprise to see this turn into another drawn out decision down the road.
2. Metta World Peace
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Formerly Ron Artest, the maligned but talented hoops star was known for being a bit brash and a malcontent. However, nobody could have predicted what would happen in the Palace of Auburn Hills on November 19, 2004.
With less than one minute left in the game Artest and his teammates began fighting with members of the Detroit Pistons. Shortly after the scramble to separate the two sides, Artest was hit by a drink thrown from the crowd. Artest charged into the stands and a brawl between players and fans broke out.
It was certainly one of the darkest moments in NBA history and Ron Artest would pay the highest price. Artest was suspended for 73 games, making it the longest suspension in NBA history.
Artest’s reputation has rebounded from the 2004 brawl, but in the meantime the media crucified Artest for years and referees were quick to call technical fouls on the mercurial forward.
1. Kobe Bryant
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One of the greatest shooting guards of all-time was about to be thrown to the wolves after a 19-year-old woman accused him of sexual misconduct in a Colorado lodge and spa.
"I feel after looking at the evidence that I can prove this case beyond a reasonable doubt," said Eagle County District Attorney Mark Hurlbert.
Bryant immediately lost sponsors, had to face his family, pregnant wife and would be required to make court appearances throughout the 2003-2004 season.
While the case against Kobe would eventually be dismissed, the damage to his reputation was colossal as tabloids had a field day with his infidelity and reputation.