10 Former Los Angeles Lakers Current Team Could Learn from
This article will look at 10 former Los Angeles Lakers greats current team members could learn something from.
The Lakers currently find themselves in a transitional period. No longer will Phil Jackson be roaming the sidelines. And who can forget that awful performance in last season’s playoffs—so disappointing after winning the NBA crown just one season before.
Fans are now wondering whether the team really has declined as much as they showed last spring. Or, if they have won more championship run in them.
We will find out that answer soon enough. But in the meantime, members of this current group of Lakers could certainly use some mentoring from some of the franchise’s former greats.
The following slides will include one former Laker great and the current player he would be a good fit to mentor.
10. Robert Horry: Steve Blake
Robert Horry knows a thing or two about serving as a valuable role player on championship teams. Horry won rings with the Rockets, Lakers and Spurs, hitting many clutch shots along the way (the most famous coming in '02 in the Western Conference Finals for the Lakers against the Kings, when his last-second shot earned him the unforgettable distinction "Big Shot Bob" by none other than Regis Philbin).
Steve Blake was signed by the Lakers in hopes he would provide consistent outside shooting and reliable defense. But Blake’s first season with the team was underwhelming, especially once the postseason began.
I kept saying all last season: Steve Blake would win a playoff game for the Lakers. Well Blake certainly didn’t help my prediction any.
Blake averaged a measly two points a game in nine playoff games.
Blake still has time to be the “Robert Horry” of this current Lakers team.
Maybe Blake will eventually be remembered as “Big Shot Blake.”
9. Michael Cooper: Matt Barnes
Matt Barnes wasn’t as disappointing as Steve Blake was in his first year with the team, but he wasn’t great either.
Some of this had to do with a mid-season knee injury, which sidelined Barnes for a good chunk of the season. In addition, Barnes played his lowest number of minutes since the 2005-06 season, and always looked to struggle in his recovery from that painful ailment.
One of the reasons Barnes was brought to the Lakers was to add toughness to the roster and bolster the team’s already-stingy perimeter defense.
In his second full season with the team, Barnes will be expected to provide the same things. Except this time he should get more time on the floor to do so.
Given Cooper is the probably the best defender in team history, I am sure he could teach Barnes a few things about defense. And toughness for that matter.
8. Brian Shaw: Luke Walton
Brian Shaw played the role of the savvy, veteran role player during the team’s run to three straight championships in the early 2000s.
Later on, he became Phil Jackson’s primary assistant, learning the ins and outs of the triangle offense.
It looks as though Walton is heading in the same direction as Shaw, going from NBA role player to trying his hand at coaching. Currently, Walton is serving as an assistant coach at the University of Memphis during the lockout. And I bet we will see Luke on the sidelines of an NBA team one day, toting a clipboard and calling plays.
Shaw could teach Walton a few things about transitioning from player to coach, in addition to sharing some classic “Zen Master” stories.
7. Magic Johnson: Derek Fisher
It’s becoming more and more of a reality the Los Angeles Lakers are going to struggle to win another championship with Derek Fisher as their starting point guard.
I am not saying Magic Johnson has a secret fountain of youth for Fisher to benefit from. But given he is the best point guard in franchise history, I am sure Fisher could learn a few things from the “Magic Man” that would prevent him from becoming even more of a liability for the team.
6. A.C. Green: Ron Artest (Metta World Peace)
Ron Artest has more or less been a model citizen during his two seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers. All of the anxiety about Artest “undermining such a classy franchise” has officially subsided.
But can’t you just picture A.C. Green serving as Artest’s mentor/therapist? A.C. was not only a productive player, but he was one of the nicest, most stand-up guys in team history.
5. Pat Riley: Mike Brown
It would be easy to put Phil Jackson in this slot, given his resume and experience with the current roster. But I think Mike Brown would benefit more from learning from Pat Riley.
When Riley became coach of the Lakers, he had no prior coaching experience. Fans only knew him as a decent role player for the team in the 1970s, and as serving as Chick Hearn’s broadcast partner for a brief period.
Brown is not a rookie coach, but he could definitely take some advice on coaching his first season under the bright Hollywood lights.
Riley didn’t fare too badly in his first season as coach of the team. He only won a championship.
4. James Worthy: Lamar Odom
Lamar Odom and James Worthy have one thing in common: They were/are considered to be the team’s “X” factor.
When James Worthy had a big game to accompany the efforts of Magic and Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in the 1980s, the Lakers were damned near unbeatable.
In recent seasons when Odom has played stellar basketball, behind Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol, the Lakers have been a very tough team to beat.
However, Worthy was much more consistent than Odom has been. Maybe “Big Game James” could talk to Odom a little bit about churning out good performances on a more consistent basis.
3. Wilt Chamberlain: Andrew Bynum
Of all the great centers who have played for the Los Angeles Lakers, I believe Andrew Bynum would have been best suited to have been mentored by Wilt Chamberlain.
If Chamberlain were alive, he would be able to impart the importance of continuing to rebound and be tough on the defensive end of the court, which Bynum suddenly appeared to focus his energies upon in the second half of last season.
After the All-Star break, Bynum averaged 12 rebounds and over two blocks a game, leading the team to a 17-1 record in their first 18 games after the break.
2. Kurt Rambis: Pau Gasol
In the midst of Pau Gasol’s postseason slump last spring, many seemed to forget he is still one of the most talented and accomplished post players in the world.
Gasol should come back with a vengeance whenever the season does begin.
Just imagine if Gasol had some of Rambis’s famous hell, fire and brimstone the be-goggled one once exhibited during his playing career?
1. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: Kobe Bryant
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar enjoyed one of the most successful and lengthiest careers in NBA history.
The former UCLA star enjoyed 20 seasons in the league, providing solid contributions for the Lakers up until his retirement after the 1988-89 season.
Given Kobe Bryant’s increasing age, and the fact he has been nursing a laundry list of injuries the last few seasons, perhaps Kareem could give a few tips to the Mamba about what it takes to play two full decades in the league.