Just like any other of the game’s all-time greats, Kobe Bryant has played with a wide variety of teammates throughout his illustrious career. Some have helped Kobe become the player we see today, while others Kobe likely won’t be remembering with much fondness after he retires.
This article will look at Kobe Bryant’s 10 worst Lakers teammates.
While there are teammates on here from all eras from Kobe’s career, if you are for some strange reason particularly fond of the years in between Shaquille O’Neal leaving and Pau Gasol arriving, I would look the other way.
Needless to say, Kobe had a hard time finding a decent teammate not named Lamar Odom during those years.
So, here are the best of the worst teammates Kobe has played with in his 15 seasons with the Lakers.
I have decided it would not be fair to include players in this article who were never part of the team’s main rotation during their respective stints with the team.
Therefore, you will not see slides for players such as: Travis Knight, Mark Madsen, D.J. Mbenga or Adam Morrison.
It’s hard to pick on Steve Blake too much, considering he has only one season under his belt with the Los Angeles Lakers.
But Blake certainly had an underwhelming first season with the team. In 20 minutes of action, Blake averaged a career-low four points a contest, including shooting his lowest percentage from the field since 2004-05.
Blake’s performance declined even more when the playoffs started, as his scoring average went from four to two points a game.
Considering when Blake was signed he was viewed as an upgrade, it’s easy to see why he can be considered a bad teammate thus far.
Yes, Dennis Rodman and Kobe Bryant were teammates for 23 games during the lockout-shortened 1998-99 season.
While Rodman averaged 11 rebounds and helped the team win 10 consecutive games after his arrival, his mind clearly wasn’t on basketball.
Rodman had a hard time showing up for practice and games, which led to the Lakers releasing him before the postseason.
Luke Walton has always been considered one of the smartest players on the Los Angeles Lakers, who had a better understanding of Phil Jackson’s triangle offense than some of the team’s marquee players.
But due to injuries and playing with more talented players than he did earlier in his career, Walton has seen his playing time decrease each season since 2007-08.
In 2006-07, while the team was in its rebuilding phase and struggling to even make the playoffs, Walton averaged an impressive 11 points, five rebounds and four assists.
Samaki Walker played two seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers, helping them win their third consecutive championship in 2002.
In his two seasons with the Lakers, Walker averaged 21 minutes and five points a contest, serving as the team’s primary starting power forward in 2002.
Despite the team winning the 2002 championship, having Walker as the team's starting forward during a playoff push was a little unsettling.
Also, who can forget the fact Kobe Bryant punched Walker on the team bus that season?
Sasha Vujacic, also known as “The Machine,” had an up-and-down stint with the Los Angeles Lakers.
At times, it looked as though Vujacic was ready to become a contributing force in the team’s rotation, as was the case in the 2008 playoffs, when Vujacic averaged eight points a game and shot nearly 40 percent from behind the arc.
But Vujacic failed to show any true consistency, which resulted in him only averaging eight minutes a game in his last full season with the Lakers (2009-10).
First and foremost, I have mad love for Slava Medvedenko. He probably provided as much inadvertent entertainment to Lakers fans as any other player in team history. Don't believe me? Just check out this interview.
On the other hand, the man never met a shot during a game he wasn’t in love with.
Slava spent parts of six seasons with the Lakers, winning a championship with the team in 2002.
In 2003-04, Medvedenko averaged a career-high 21 minutes and eight points a contest.
If there is one of Kobe Bryant’s former teammates who can be considered a bigger “space cadet” than Slava Medvedenko, it’s Vladimir Radmanovic.
In Vlad’s two-and-a-half seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers, his two claims to fame were: streaky three-point shooting and being traded for Shannon Brown and Adam Morrison.
Vlad Rad even lied about a snowboarding injury, which resulted in the team fining him $500,000. Yikes!
After being selected by the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2003 draft, Cook spent parts of five seasons with the team.
After Shaquille O’Neal was traded, Cook played a more integral part in the rotation. Cook’s best season came in 2005-06, when he averaged seven points in 19 minutes.
With the exception of a decent mid-range jump shot, “Cookie” provided very little while playing for the Lakers. Despite being 6’10’’, Cook avoided the painted area like a black plague, in addition to playing overall porous defense.
Cook was eventually sent to the Orlando Magic in exchange for Trevor Ariza.
Every fan of the Los Angeles Lakers knows the years between Shaquille O’Neal being traded and Pau Gasol joining the team were frustrating at best.
Who doesn’t want to burn the images of Smush Parker and Kwame Brown wearing purple and gold out of their minds?
In Parker’s two seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers, he averaged 11 points and three assists a game, serving as the team’s starting point guard.
On the surface, that doesn’t seem so bad. But it was. Believe me.
At times, it seemed as though Parker was physically (mentally?) unable to run the triangle offense, often making horrendous decisions on the floor. I find it incredible Kobe Bryant never blew a fuse and attacked Smush.
I know the team’s point guard play is nothing to write home about these days, but the days of Smush running the point are thankfully a thing of the past.
At times, he couldn’t even catch a pass with consistency. In his two full seasons with the team, I failed to see him master one semi-dominant low-post move, despite his 6'11'', 270-pound frame.
His work ethic and motivation were often questioned. And did I mention he played with both Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant?
If you haven’t figured it out by now, I am talking about Kwame Brown, Kobe's worst teammate since joining the organization in 1996.
What’s even more painful to swallow, the team gave up Caron Butler to get Kwame.
Unlike the other players on this list, who are largely role players, Kwame and Smush were members of the starting lineup during their time with the Lakers, which makes their underwhelming performances all the more pronounced and frustrating.
Considering Kobe had to endure over two seasons dealing with Kwame and Smush as fellow starters, I think Kobe deserved to win the 2006 MVP award. The Lakers finished with 45 wins that season (talk about overachieving), with Kobe averaging 35 points a contest.