L.A. Lakers: 5 Biggest Scandals in Lakers History

Joshua SextonSenior Analyst IIAugust 1, 2011

L.A. Lakers: 5 Biggest Scandals in Lakers History

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    Not only are the Los Angeles Lakers one of the most successful franchises in all of sports, but they also have a reputation for being one of the classiest. It’s a rare occasion to see a player representing the purple and gold on the wrong end of a scandal.

    With that being said, some of the most talented, accomplished players in team history have found themselves in the news for non-basketball-related scandals.

    Here are the five biggest scandals in Lakers history.

5. Kobe Bryant Rats out Shaquille O'Neal During an Interview with the Police

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    According to a 2004 report, while being interviewed by the Colorado police following his arrest for alleged sexual assault, Kobe Bryant had this to say concerning teammate Shaquille O Neal’s supposed extramarital affairs:

     "He (Bryant) should have done what Shaq does ... that Shaq would pay his women not to say anything" and already had paid up to $1 million "for situations like this."

     In the same report, Shaq had this to say in rebuttal to Kobe’s remarks:

    "I never hang out with Kobe, I never hung around him. In the seven or eight years we were together, we were never together. So how this guy can think he knows anything about me or my business is funny. And one last thing -- I'm not the one buying love. He's the one buying love."

    Needless to say, this little exchange of words did little to mend Kobe and Shaq's already rocky relationship.

4. James Worthy Looks for Some Pregame Fun

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    During a 1990 road trip, James Worthy was arrested at a Houston hotel for solicitation of prostitution.

    The escort service Worthy called had been shut down. Therefore, undercover police offers were answering calls being made to the establishment, posing as prostitutes.

    Worthy was released on $500 bail and rejoined the Lakers after the first quarter of their game with the Houston Rockets. Worthy would help the Lakers win in overtime, scoring 24 points.

    Worthy was eventually put on one-year probation, fined $1,000 and required to complete 40 hours of community service.

3. Kermit Washington Punches Rudy Tomjanovich

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    In a 1977 game between the Los Angeles Lakers and Houston Rockets, Lakers power forward Kermit Washington landed a devastating punch to the face of Rockets star Rudy Tomjanovich.

    “The punch” is considered one of the ugliest moments in sports history. Tomjanovich, who would eventually coach the Rockets to back-to-back championships in the early 1990s, would suffer numerous broken bones in his face and jaw, in addition to life-threatening head injuries.

    Washington was fined $50,000 and suspended 60 days without pay. Before the 1977-78 season came to an end, the Lakers had traded Washington to the Boston Celtics.

2. Magic Johnson's Shocking Announcement

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    In November of 1991, Magic Johnson announced to the world he was HIV-positive and would be retiring from the game of basketball.

    While this may not be considered a scandal, it still had everyone's heads spinning.

    A combination of Magic’s ability to afford the best medication and discovering the disease in its early stages has prevented his HIV from becoming AIDS.

    After his HIV announcement, Magic participated in the 1992 All-Star Game and was selected as a member of the original Dream Team before the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona.

    In addition, Magic made a small comeback with the Los Angeles Lakers during the 1995-96 season. In 32 games, Magic averaged 14 points and nearly seven assists per game.

1. Kobe Bryant's Rocky Mountain Low

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    In 2003, Kobe Bryant was arrested in Eagle, Colorado after being accused of sexual assault by a 19-year-old hotel employee.

    Bryant admitted he had sex with the girl but said it was completely consensual. Eventually, the charges were dropped after the defendant, Katelyn Faber, refused to testify in court.

    Faber would eventually file a separate lawsuit against Bryant before the two ended up settling the suit outside of the courtroom.

    Thanks to a teary, public apology and a $4 million ring, Kobe and his wife, Vanessa, remained together during and after the couple’s tumultuous moment.