Archives For laker History

Last night, one team we watched during Rockets-Lakers will only go as far as its star will take them. The other was the Lakers, and boy, was that fun. We might’ve witnessed the birth of a new era, or we just were able to catch one of the few fun games this unit will play together. We have no idea, but boy, I can’t wait to find out.

Think of things you legitimately love. Not people or pets, obviously, that’s not quite the same thing. Think of books, of movies, TV series, whatever. You know what most those things have in common? You bought in early. Something caught you at the very beginning, made you invest on an emotional level and you grew alongside it.

Series especially (whether it be books, TV or movie), capture and nurture this kind of relationship. You invest years into characters. When those series end, you can’t help but feel as if there’s a hole you feel the need to fill as soon as you possibly can. For me (and millions of others), it was Harry Potter. Somehow, I found myself relating to a completely fictional, wand-wielding character from the very beginning and on throughout the series even if I’d never ridden a broomstick, let alone a thestral. Sports are no different. We might root for laundry at the macro level, but it’s the minutiae along the way that draws and keeps us in.

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You can’t hear people talk about the Lakers without at some point catching one word: excitement. It makes sense, new is exciting. Youth is exciting. Fun is exciting, especially when the humor about the team is not of the ironic type. You know what makes this young core all the more thrilling? Given the franchise’s, history, there’s a great chance most — or even all — these guys will work out.

Before we start, an important note should be made about how rare it is that players taken near the top of the draft don’t pan out. Typically, whoever is taken with early lottery picks has the talent to make it work. It happens (Anthony Bennett and Hasheem Thabeet nod glumly), but on the whole, it is pretty rare.

Furthermore, most of the guys I’ll talk about were drafted into winning situations whereas this current crop of young talent will probably see at least another couple years of losing before things really turn around. That matters greatly, and puts more of the onus on each player to continue to grow individually versus having to catch up to the quality of talent that already exists on a good team.

Now, with that said, take a look at the Lakers’ history of drafting guys in the lottery, especially as you get closer to the top pick overall. There are basically no outright busts whatsoever (damn you, Javaris Crittenton). It’s somewhat incredible.

For one thing, outside of this current stretch, the Lakers have almost never drafted inside the top five historically. Even still, they’ve selected almost innumerable players who went on to have very long, productive careers elsewhere, if not with the Lakers themselves. Before the lottery was instituted in 1985, the Lakers had already drafted seven players who would were/would become Hall of Famers and five other players who played at least one all star game. Since then, the Lakers have only made six lottery picks:

  • George Lynch (12) – At the time, this wasn’t a lottery pick, as the lottery only went to the 11th pick. Still, it’s in the general lottery range, so I’m counting it.
  • Eddie Jones (10)
  • Kobe Bryant (13, in a trade)
  • Andrew Bynum (10)
  • Julius Randle (7)
  • D’Angelo Russell (2)
  • Brandon Ingram (2)

Of those guys who are not still playing, only Lynch “failed” to make an all star team, but even he went on to play for more than a decade and spent most of that time as at least a solid rotation-caliber player. You take that career in that spot anytime you can. Bynum is something of a punchline now, but he made an all star team and was a key part of multiple title teams. Eddie Jones is freakin’ Eddie Jones. Nothing else need be said.

Oh, and Kobe turned out pretty well in his own right.

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Next time Shaquille O’Neal and Charles Barkley deride the current NBA for shooting too many threes and lacking dominant centers, instead of sarcastically mocking their antiquated standards for style of play, we should maybe credit the former for what we’re watching. He deserves as much credit for it as just about anyone. Crazy, right?

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The Warriors look to be well on their way to their 2nd NBA championship in as many seasons. Their combination of offensive firepower, excellent defense, positional versatility, and top level coaching are the marvel of the league and have teams scrambling to try and replicate a formula which may not even be replicable.

Roughly 30 years ago, the Lakers were a team very much like this season’s Warriors. If not so much in style, but in aesthetics. Explosive in the open court and precise in the half court, the Showtime Lakers ran roughshod over the league for an entire decade. They went to 8 Finals in the 1980’s and captured 5 titles in the process. I think teams would have tried to play like them, but it just didn’t even seem possible. No one had the horses.

These two teams are linked by the Thompson family. In the middle of the 1987 season, the Lakers traded for Mychal Thompson. The former 1978 #1 overall pick of the Trailblazers, Thompson was brought in to be the Lakers’ back up C and 3rd big man. Mychal did his job, helping the ’87 Lakers defeat the Celtics in the rubber match of their 3 NBA Finals match ups.

Mychal’s son, Klay, is now the starting SG for the Warriors. Drafted with the 11th pick in the 2011 draft, Klay has outperformed his draft slot and become one of the best two-way wings in the league. In a bit of a role reversal from his dad, Klay was famously not traded two seasons ago for Kevin Love. Now Klay’s Warrior’s are on the verge of beating Love’s Cavs in the Finals for the 2nd straight year.

So, the 2015 and 2016 Warriors are likely to be back to back champs. The 1987 and 1988 Lakers were back to back champs. In the post-game presser following the Warriors’ game 2 victory, Draymond Green was asked about where these Warriors ranked in the pantheon on all-time teams. Green, diplomatic, said we’d never know if his Dubs would beat teams like Jordan’s Bulls or the Showtime Lakers.

Klay, never shy of taking a shot, lined up his dad’s former team in his crosshairs and said with a smirk and a chuckle, “we’d beat the Showtime Lakers.”

Well, then.

I’ve always been of the same mindset Draymond has. The league has changed too much to compare players in ways beyond trivial barroom arguments. Forget, then, comparing entire teams. There’s simply no good way to do it.

If you think that’s going to stop me, though, you’re wrong. Thanks, Klay!

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It’s been nearly a month since Kobe Bryant played his last game where he scored 60 points on 50 shots. We’ve seen countless tributes to his amazing performance and have done our best to capture the moment ourselves. What we have not heard yet, though, were comments from anyone on the Jazz.

Until now.

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I don’t often discuss what happens with players off the court. But, dammit if I’m not going to share this fantastic ESPN 30-for-30 short film with you on A.C. Green called “Iron Virgin”.

Green, who had two stints with the Lakers and won three championships (1987, 1988, 2000), was the hard working, blue collar type player most title teams have at least one of. He defended, rebounded, ran the floor, finished inside*, and even had a pretty reliable 15-18 foot jumper. He was a key contributor to the Showtime teams and even made an All-Star game in 1990.

While Green boasted a portable game (he could have been a high level contributor on countless teams), what he was best known for during his career were two traits: his durability and his virginity.

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It’s sometimes nice to take a break from the Lakers’ current woes and remember better times. Today is one of those days with the news that Shaquille O’Neal will be inducted into the Hall of Fame this summer.

While Shaq played for 7 teams, he will be most remembered for his time with the Magic (who drafted him), the Heat (where he won a championship in 2006), and the Lakers where he spent more years than any other franchise and had his most success both as an individual and with a team.

But if you ask any Lakers’ fan, they will always think of Shaq as a Laker first and foremost.

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Over at SB Nation, Tom Ziller did his yearly rankings of the top 100 pending free agents. It’s a must read for anyone interested in what player movement might be coming this summer and how teams’ dollars will be allocated in the search for outside roster help (non-trade variety). I’d suggest giving the entire entry a read, especially since the Lakers are primed to be major players in the FA market with, potentially, $60 million to spend on reinforcements.

But my focus isn’t on who the Lakers might target from outside their roster, but instead on one of their own core players who enters free agency: Jordan Clarkson. The 2nd year guard ranks 21st on Ziller’s list and has the following entry attached:

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