Lakers I Miss: Sedale Threatt

Kurt —  September 28, 2005

I always had a soft spot for Sedale Threatt. I think it stems from the time he gave a chop to the face of Danny Ainge and sent him staggering back like a drunk trying to get off a bar stool.

(Just a quick aside — there was no ’80s Celtic I hated more than Danny Ainge. Bird, Parish, McHale, DJ, Walton, I rooted against all of them as hard as I could, but I respected them immensely even then. Ainge I hated. There’s no one specific reason, he’s just one of those players that got under my skin, like a bad rash. I’ve matured enough to respect him, mostly, but there’s still something about him that makes me cringe every time he shows up on television.)

Years after that incident, Threatt ended up being the best player on some bad Laker teams after the Showtime dynasty came crashing down. But even at the tail end his career (he played just 21 games with Houston after leaving the Lakers and that was it) he put up very solid numbers.

After time in Philadelphia, Chicago and Seattle, Threatt came to the Lakers for the 91-92 season at age 30 and was thrown into the unenviable task of taking over Magic Johnson’s spot in the lineup. That season he started 82 games with the remnants of Showtime (Worth, Divac, Byron Scott and A.C. Green were still around) and scored more points than any Laker that season (1,240). His PER was 16.5, his points per shot attempt was 1.08 and he was second on the team in win shares with 23 (Green led with 27). All solid numbers that sometimes got overlooked because they were not Magic-like.

Throughout his five-year stay with the Lakers he put up similar numbers, although as Nick Van Exel developed Threatt started coming off the bench. His PER the first four years were 16.5, 16.5, 15.3 and 15.8, and he also always averaged at least at least 16.1 points and 6 assists per 40 minutes during that time. However, his last season in Laker colors (95-96) his age started to catch up with him, and it showed.

But to me Threatt is less about the statistics and more about the memories. There was the 1993 game one of the playoff series against the Kevin Johnson-less Suns, where he dropped 35 points on the way to the Lakers stunning 107-103 upset. I remember being up 2-0 in a series where we were supposed be crushed and instead me being crushed when we lost.

Then there were the stories of Threatt on the town and at the Forum Club. To give an example from his Seattle days, Threatt allegedly used to sleep off his night outs in Gary Payton’s cars so he could be closer to practice. Back in the days Threatt was one of the Lakers’ big dogs I was working for another sport often at the Forum and employees there still had stories of how Threatt loved a good night out.

Threatt is not ever going to have his jersey number hanging from the rafters at Staples Center. But this is one Laker fan will always think back on him and smile, remembering a good player in bad times.