Who’s been the most successful player after leaving the Lakers?

28 Comments

When Shaquille O’Neal signed with the Lakers, Jerry West took him to the Staples Center Forum and showed him the retired jerseys hanging from the rafters – including those of Wilt Chamberlain, Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Elgin Baylor and West himself.

Great players tend to find there way onto the Lakers, not out of Los Angeles.

Dwight Howard obviously bucked that trend, but his legacy will now hinge of if he can accomplish anything after leaving the Lakers. There will be plenty of time for Howard to prove himself, but for now, who has had the most success after leaving the Lakers?

Honorable mention: Dick Barnett, Bob Boozer, Caron Butler, Archie Clark, James Edwards, Eddie Jones, Brian Winters

3. Clyde Lovellette

The Minneapolis Lakers drafted Lovellette in 1952 and then waited out Lovelette’s amateur/Olympic career and his time working and playing for Phillips Oil Company in Oklahoma. Lovellette played behind George Mikan as a rookie, and after Mikan retired, Lovellette became the Lakers’ top player. In the next three years, Lovellette averaged 20 points and 13 rebounds per game and made two All-Star games.

But Lakers coach John Kundla said his team couldn’t win with Lovellette and traded him to the Cincinnati Royals.

Lovellette had three more 20-10 seasons with Cincinnati and St. Louis and made two more All-Star games. He closed his career with the Celtics, winning titles in both his years with Boston.

2. Shaquille O’Neal

A feud with Kobe Bryant forcing his ouster, Shaq was traded in 2004 to Miami, where it seemed like a young Heat player named Dwyane Wade might become good enough, with the right pieces surrounding them, to help Shaq win a title.

It turned out – even though Shaq was twice named first-team All-NBA with the Heat – Wade was good enough to lead Shaq to a title. There’s no sin in being No. 2 on a championship team, and Shaq still got the first laugh against Kobe after their breakup by winning it all in 2006 (though, Kobe obviously had the last couple laughs), but Shaq was clearly no longer the league’s most dominant player after leaving Los Angeles.

Shaq spent a few years as strange fits with the Suns, Cavaliers and Celtics as his body gradually gave out, but if expectations hadn’t been raised so high by his Laker greatness, he was still pretty good in those final stops.

1. Adrian Dantley

Dantley came into the NBA with quite a pedigree. He played at distinguished DeMatha High School and then at the even-more-distinguished University of Notre Dame, was pick No. 6 overall in the 1976 draft and won Rookie of the Year. But he bounced around the league early in his career, including a season and a half with the Lakers.

Those Lakers also had Jamaal Wilkes, and, deeming the two forwards redundant, they traded Dantley for Spencer Haywood of the Jazz.

Dantley spent seven seasons in Utah, where he twice led the league in scoring, made two All-NBA second teams and was a six-time All-Star. He also thrived for the Detroit Pistons, who traded him during their first championship season for Isiah Thomas’ childhood friend, Mark Aguirre. Dantley hung around a little longer, playing for the Dallas Mavericks and Milwaukee Bucks, but he never won a championship.

Whenever all-time lists are compiled, Dantley is usually underrated. He was a brilliant offensive player in his time thanks to an awesome array of post moves. Dantley ranks in the top 25 in NBA history for points – one spot ahead of Laker great Elgin Baylor, incidentally – and 81 percent of his scoring came after he left the Lakers.

Rockets bench hams it up over Andre Roberson missed free throw (video)

Leave a comment

Russell Westbrook might not want to talk about his supporting cast distinctively, but it’s a real issue for the Thunder, who trail the Rockets 3-1 in their first-round series.

Even Andre Roberson, who has impressively defended James Harden, brings a glaring weakness: free throws. Roberson is 2-for-17 from the line in the playoffs, including 2-for-12 in Game 4 yesterday. Houston even repeatedly intentionally fouled him late.

It was agonizing for all but the most partisan Rockets supporters – though even Houston’s bench, while at least implicitly mocking Roberson, appeared put off that he missed yet again.

Isaiah Thomas: ‘Mentally and emotionally, I’m not here’

AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast
Leave a comment

Isaiah Thomas previously explained his emotions in a statement, but the Celtics guard spoke publicly yesterday for the first time since the death of his sister in a car crash just before the playoffs.

Thomas, via A. Sherrod Blakely of CSN Northeast:

“Mentally and emotionally I’m not here,” Thomas said after Game 4, the first time he has spoken publicly since his sister’s death. “So I just feed off of what the guys give me. They give me a lot of confidence. I can’t do it without those guys. They believe in me. Being here is what makes me sane and makes me feel somewhat normal through these tough times.”

Thomas has played well for Boston, which won twice in Chicago to even its series with the Bulls, 2-2. It’s remarkable considering the heavy emotional burden and extra travel, going to Seattle for his sister’s funeral then joining the Celtics in Chicago.

His teammates have clearly rallied around him, and that surely helps. But I can’t even imagine how he’s simultaneously handling such a tragic family situation and the biggest games of his career.

Kyrie Irving knocks flamingo from Pacers fan’s hands (video)

Leave a comment

Pacers super fan Matt Asen brings his lucky flamingo to each game.

He also annoyed the heck out of Kyrie Irving by trying to hand it, rather than the ball, to the Cavaliers guard.

James Harden reveals he’s playing through ankle injury

AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki
2 Comments

James Harden didn’t lead the Rockets in scoring in their Game 4 win over the Thunder yesterday.

He didn’t even rank second – or third.

Nene, Eric Gordon and Lou Williams each outscored Harden, who scored 16 points on 5-for-16 shooting, including 0-for-7 on 3-pointers.

What happened to the Houston star?

Calvin Watkins of ESPN:

Houston Rockets star guard James Harden said he has been hobbled by an ankle injury that occurred in Game 3 of this first-round series against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Harden made the revelation to ESPN’s Lisa Salters after the Rockets’ 113-109 Game 4 victory on Sunday afternoon.

“It was pretty tough; we don’t make excuses,” Harden said in a news conference when asked about his health. “We just try to go out there and get the job done. You build trust, and trust in your teammates all year long. When there’s moments like this, guys step up and they did tonight. We have another opportunity in a few days to go out there and win on our home court, and we’re going to have to get off to a really good start.”

Many players are grinding through injuries this time of year. Is Harden’s exceptionally bad? There’s no way of telling from the outside.

But he didn’t look quite right in Game 4, and if he’s hobbled, that opens the door slightly wider for Oklahoma City to come back from its 3-1 deficit.