R.R. Magellan, also known as “Rey-Rey”, is the founder and editor of the L.A. based-NBA at-large site, The No-Look Pass. From time to time, he will take us back to Laker players of yesteryear, give his thoughts on how the player performed as a Laker, and how they are doing now. For more of Rey-Rey’s work, check out TheNoLookPass.Com.
After the 1992-93 season, I knew the Lakers were going to transition (I didn’t know that word at the time… I just thought they were going to be “bad next year”) into rebuilding (yes, a rare term in the Laker world). They had just lost a heartbreaking first round to the eventual Western Conference champs, the Phoenix Suns. I had just finished junior high when the 1993 NBA Draft came about. I didn’t watch the draft when it came on TV but I was excited when I heard that the Lakers got one of the main cogs from the then-NCAA champion North Carolina Tar Heels, George Lynch. I was also excited about the Lakers getting Nick Van Exel in the second round (my friend could not stop raving about Van Exel during his Cincinnati days) but since Lynch was the higher pick, I was excited about what he could do.
Back in the early 90s, we didn’t have as much access to scouting reports and the like as we do now in this age of information that we live in. But then, I knew nothing about basketball then… and I probably still don’t now. I waited for Lynch to have some kind of breakout game during his rookie season but he never really did. Lynch was shuffed in and out of the starting line-up for the Lakers as they stumbled through a 33-49 record (which included a 10-game losing streak at the end of the season when they were coached by one Magic Johnson). Lynch didn’t have a bad rookie season (9.6 points and 5.8 boards a game while shooting 50.8 percent from the field, which turned out to be his career high) and, for all accounts, was actually a really good season for a #12 pick. But my incompetent self didn’t know any better; I thought he would do more than this.
Then I came to accept him for what he was: George Lynch wasn’t particularly great at anything (I knew I should’ve looked at some sort of scouting report when I was 14!). I especially winced when he took a perimeter shot. But he was a decent rebounder, a very good defender, and hustled his ass off. I appreciated the hard work he did on the court. It was just too bad that his playing time started to decrease. Cedric Ceballos went to the Lakers in a trade before Lynch’s sophomore year in the NBA. Then Magic Johnson attempted to come back late into Lynch’s third year. Still, Lynch (who was shuffled in and out of the line-up in the 1994-95 season) managed to put in 6.1 points and 3.3 boards in his second season and he made big plays in the Lakers’ surprising playoff run. But those numbers lowered to 3.8 points and 2.8 rebounds in his third year as his playing time was practically cut in half from his rookie season.
It turned out that his biggest contribution to the Lakers would happen in the offseason that followed. Lynch was traded to the expansion Vancouver Grizzlies (along with Anthony Peeler) to make salary room for the Lakers. The Lakers then signed some big, hulking center. I forgot who that center was but remind me his name when you guys get the chance to. Still, I missed Lynch’s contributions despite his limitations as he did all the dirty work for the Lakers in the years he was there, especially on the defensive end.
George Lynch went on to have a decent 12-year career as a role player. His best scoring and rebounding season came as a Philadelphia 76er during the 1999-2000 campaign when he averaged 9.6 points and 7.8 boards per contest. He would be a starter in the 2001 Philly squad that made the NBA Finals, where they lost to, ironically, the Lakers. His last stop in the NBA was in New Orleans, where he played from 2002 through 2005.
As of late, he’s been working with the athletic department at UC Irvine in Irvine, CA. He has mentioned about getting into coaching. Lynch had mentioned how difficult it was to break in but I think he’ll be just fine. George Lynch did his job as an NBA player despite his limitations and I’m sure he’ll do the job, too, when he does break into the coaching ranks.