Los Angeles Lakers: Top 5 Star Player Cameos
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Many NBA legends have graced the Los Angeles Lakers hardwood from the Forum to the STAPLES Centre. From Wilt to Shaq, Magic to Kobe, Mikan to Kareem and West to Gasol. Still, other stars have made cameo appearances for the purple and gold and we're not talking about Jack Nicholson, Leonardo DiCaprio or the rest of Hollywood's finest. We're talking about the star, Hall of Fame players who have briefly passed through the Lakers locker rooms over their and the Lake Show's storied careers. So who is the best of the rest?
Who's a Star?
In the compnay of greatness.
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So who makes the cut? OK, here's the criteria. This is a list of the greatest NBA star players that have played for the Lakers briefly. We aren't looking at any purple and gold jerseys being raised to the rafters here.
This is a list of the top legends that either played for L.A. for a short amount of time (23 games is enough), in a limited role (like a "sixth man" position), or in the twilight of their careers (see above). This list gives a nod to those who may have made their hall of fame bread and butter elsewhere but still spread their NBA legacy with some time in the lockers of the Lakers.
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Honourable mentions must go out to more brief Laker players who we're legends in the NBA.
ADRIAN DANTLEY spent some of his early years showing the Lakers the potential that would lead to four straight seasons of 30 plus points per-game in the league. Laker purists will debate whether Dant' should of been given up for the Silk of Jaamal Wilkes for "Showtime" reminiscent years to come.
SPENCER HAYWOOD was a bull in the ABA and had the big, built frontcout numbers to match in the NBA, but his career faded too soon and his time in L.A. came too late.
If Michael Jordan was the Hulk Hogan of the league in the 90s, MITCH RICHMOND was The Rock. His playing time in his sole season with L.A. was chipped away but he was still solid. He earned a ring and the gracious last bucket of the Lakers championship and his career from Phil Jackson's gratitude.
JIM JACKSON was a scoring machine but he needed more time for more buckets in a solitary season that was much like Richmond's.
HORACE GRANT, goggles and all, was one of the Chicago Bulls and the NBA's greatest defenders and field goal percentiles. That's why Phil Jackson put up with the injuries to employ Horace's services for another ring in 2001.
DEREK HARPER and RON HARPER shared more than a last name, they where two of the late 80s/90s greatest, most underrated backcourt players and big-time team contributors.
ORLANDO WOOLRIDGE showed Chicago some air before Jordan laced them up and even showed another M.J. (Magic) some tricks of the Showtime trade.
MAURICE LUCAS was a true talent and a true individual for every team he played for including the Lake Show. He was a genuine professional which makes his loss last year that much sadder. Rest in peace.
Handling the dirty work.
Dennis Rodman got ahead of himself when he selected his Laker jersey number as 72. He would never reach that number of games with this club, or a full season. In fact Dennis only recorded the same number on his former-teammate Jordan's jersey in games for L.A. Still Dennis made an impression even in just 23 games.
The rebounding machine never bored us matching his hair colour to his jersey and bringing flamboyance and enthusiasm with his one of a kind personality. He missed practices but it got worse as he was waved goodbye only to send Dallas off the rails.
Asking for his number to be '69' or '007' really was asking too much and that was goodbye to Rodman's career. Still the facts or the Hall this year couldn't deny the sheer talent of one of the greatest rebounders, big-men, defensive players and champions of all time. Dennis didn't need 23 to show the Lakers that on-court he still caught more than just attention.
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What happened to Connie Hawkins' career was criminal. A point shaving scandal led to years being razor-cut off his career. This man was supposed to figuratively and literally be in the same league as Jerry West and Elgin Baylor. Instead this great ended up having to wait his turn behind these two legends to play for the Lakers.
Still this didn't stop the Hawk's own legend from soaring, dunking and rising like a phoenix during his time with the Suns. Still the unfair charges burnt him and charged it all to the good of the game also. The only time Connie should have been embarrassed was when acoustic singer Paul Simon beat him on one-one-one on Saturday Night Live. Besides that this ABA and NYC playground icon should have held court in the NBA before 28, but another court put his sneakers in concrete.
An honor playing with James Worthy.
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Mac's All-Star, all-legend career saw him be a superstar journeyman in the NBA and his career travels even took him to Italy for seven years. Wherever Bob laid his hat, he laid down baskets too making scoring his home.
By the time McAdoo landed in L.A. he was in the Sixth Man territory of his career. Still like Lamar Odom this big man was huge for the star-studded Lakers in fitting their fingers with two-more championship rings. Mac wasn't just a fan-favourite he was loved by Magic and all his teammates in the showtime hat. Bob brought as much positivity as he I'd buckets to the Lakers. The contagious enthusiasm over-flowed making him a vital energy piece to the core of showtime's gold rush.
The glove fit.
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'The Glove' fit the Lakers well, even if it was for just a year. Even if the Kobe, Karl, Shaq and Gary, 'Dream Team', 'L.A. Beatles' combo only performed for one sold-out year, it was still something special and started a revolution of a transaction movement in the NBA that still results in major decisions to this day.
Let's not talk trash, G.P. brought more than his mouth to the Lakers superstar clinic. The Lakers dream dynasty may have been stopped by the motoring Pistons of Detroit but in manning the Lakers offence Payton still had a good year ending the teams tired, years in the making quest for a true Point Guard (no offence to Derek Fisher's incredible performances). Gary still played like an All-Star with his trademark tougher than leather, glove defence to go with his middle of the range offensive set and his skills in service.
As the Lakers took silver that year Payton was one of their best floormen even making up the big numbers and plays when Shaq and Malone we're injured our Kobe was off the floor and on a different court. Even in the Shaq/Kobe break-up and eventual 'death of a dynasty' Payton stood by the Lakers and the problems by pledging unity and another year. Although not many others followed suit and Gary was then dealt to Boston to eventually end up reunited with Shaq in Miami this was another hallmark moment from a Hall of Fame career. Just like his Seattle days this is why Gary Payton is a basketball legend of supersonic proportions.
What a delivery!
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The Mailman's final NBA delivery with the Lakers may have ended with a fractured friendship with Kobe and an even worse knee, but it was all love, healthy and happy to begin with. As Malone joined Gary Payton and history by holding a surfboard for the ultimate Californian beach boy party the good vibrations were clear.
Malone manned the power forward boards in L.A. While surfing above the Western Conference waves of competition. Sure the Malone, Payton, O'Neal and Bryant foursome was incredible but the frontcout tandem of the 'Diesel' and the 'Mailman' was a monster. With the type of fire and fuel that could gas up and burn any opponent, all whilst making deliveries that even the top twin tandem of David Robinson and Tim Duncan couldn't handle.
The muscle-bound Malone was so fit, it was thought this younger than his years player could perform ahead of his time. If only it wasn't for him going down on one knee with an engagement of injury and matrimony of retirement.