The Los Angeles Lakers have been a perennial powerhouse even before the 1976 ABA/NBA merger. First off, you have Jerry West, the face of the NBA, well maybe not the face, but the whole body (for those of you that live under a rock, his silhouette is featured on the NBA logo). Then, after West, it was a seamless transition into Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. A few years later, the Lakers picked up Magic Johnson, and those two were nearly unstoppable in the ’80s. After a few down years in the early ’90s, Kobe came onto the scene and took the city of L.A. to five more championships! Now, it’s Lonzo Ball’s turn to take the reigns.
Out of all those years of dominance previously mentioned, many players hated being part of the Lakers success, or being with the team during their down periods. Sometimes, it was about personality clashes among the stars, other times scandals, and some overall busts. After all, when you’re playing for the Lakers, you’re not just playing for any franchise. You’re playing for one of the most decorated and most valuable sports franchises in the world. Not all players can handle that. Jump on the bandwagon for 15 players who hated being a Los Angeles Laker!
15. Shannon Brown
Brown played a critical role in the Lakers championships in 2009 and 2010. While the numbers may not show it, Brown’s presence off the bench gave the Lakers some wiggle room once Kobe was off the floor. At first, I’m sure the career journeyman loved being a Laker, but come the 2010-11, Brown was in the middle of an internal controversy.
Who was this feud with? Your mind probably goes to Kobe, as he is the reason many modern players hated being a Laker (as you will see when you keep reading). But, it was a rift with Spanish big man, Pau Gasol. Rumor had it that Brown slept with Gasol’s fiance, Silvia Lopez Castro, during the regular season. Los Angeles was swept out of the playoffs by the Mavericks that year, and Brown never exercised his option with the team. Coincidence? I think not!
14. Steve Nash
Nash never really hated the Lakers, but it was more of his style of game did not fit Los Angeles. The two-time MVP joined the Lakers in 2012 at the tail end of his career, but due to nagging injuries and his teammates, never lived up to expectations. He struggled to run the pick-and-roll with Dwight Howard, and was made more of a shooter in the Lakers offense. Due to his age, his defense was lacking, and Kobe Byrant was forced to play aggressively on both sides of the floor. After several injuries, Nash left the NBA in 2015.
In a 2014 interview about his former teammate, Nash called Kobe a “motherf***ing a**hole.” Now, out of context, this looks like an insult. But as brothers banter, Kobe took the comment as a compliment.
13. Luol Deng
Deng used to be a lanky defender who developed his offensive game throughout his 13-year career in the NBA. But after joining the Lakers in 2016 in free agency, Deng has seen his role diminish due to the rebuilding process. He was benched at the end of last year, since Los Angeles was trying to tank to get a higher pick. Now, the Sudanese-born forward has requested either a buyout or trade from the Lakers.
ESPN’s Ramona Shelbourne interviewed Deng about his diminished role, and he was not too happy. “It definitely hurts, but the only answer for me now is to prove myself away from L.A. I’m not asked to play, I’m not in the rotation, so I can’t prove myself here. Most of these young guys don’t understand the business of basketball, so if I come in here and I’m angry every day, I’m taking something away from them. I have to be smiling, I have to be in the best mood I can be in, because they’re living their dream of being an NBA player.”
12. D’Angelo Russell
Russell is a legit basketball player, but most people will remember him for secretly videotaping former teammate, Nick Young, admitting to his infidelity while engaged to rapper Iggy Izalea. Magic Johnson decided to move on from Russell and traded him to Brooklyn before the 2017-18 season. When questioned about the Russell trade, Magic responded, “What I needed was a leader. I needed somebody also that can make the other players better and also that players want to play with.”
If I were D’Angelo, I would have been livid. You gave everything to the Lakers, and they repaid you with betrayal. We’ll see what the future of Los Angeles holds with Lonzo at the point. But, I’m sure Russell is pretty excited to be out of SoCal.
11. Sam Bowie
Bowie will always be known as the player drafted before Michael Jordan. The 7’1″ center joined L.A. in the 1993-94 season via trade, and general manager Jerry West had high hopes for him, despite having a dismal career to that point. But, injuries plagued Bowie and he only played in 92 games over the course of two seasons, averaging around only six points.
Now known as one of the biggest busts in the NBA’s history, Bowie left the league altogether in 1995. While West wanted him to stay and develop his game, he chose not to make a comeback. Maybe it’s because he didn’t want to tarnish the little pride he had left, but for the purposes of this article, we’ll say he retired because he didn’t want to deal with the pressures of being a Los Angeles Laker anymore.
10. Karl Malone
The only reason the “Mailman” joined the Los Angeles Lakers was to bring home a championship, something he never had a chance to get throughout his historic, hall of fame career. Along with Gary Payton, Malone joined Kobe and Shaq in SoCal. While they eventually lost to the Pistons in the 2004 NBA Finals, that wasn’t the story that dominated the headlines.
Kobe was coming off some nearly career-ending sexual assault allegations, and Malone had already retired. But in December of 2004, rumors stirred that Malone was flirting with Kobe’s wife while in L.A. In reference to Malone’s cowboy outfit, Vanessa said “Hey, cowboy, what are you hunting?” and Malone responded, “Little Mexican girls.” Whoa! If that’s not flirting, I don’t know what is. The “Mailman” denies any sexual undertones, but I’m sure he regretted being Kobe’s teammate.
9. Kwame Brown
Kwame Brown has been labeled as an under-achiever since his inception into the NBA as the first-overall pick by the Wizards in 2001. Washington had high hopes for Brown, but were soon let down. His hot head collided with coaches and players alike, and that’s when the Wizards dealt him to the Lakers.
As we all know, there’s no room for “under-achieving” with Kobe Bryant as a teammate. Bryant tells a story when they were up against the Detroit Pistons in 2008, and Brown was even to scared to catch a pass when he was wide open in fear he may get fouled and miss his free throws. It seems like instead of stepping up to the plate, and playing Kobe’s game, Brown backed down and hid in the corner.
8. Jeremy Lin
Lin was another victim of the “Black Mamba” mentality. The guard out of Harvard University took the league by storm in 2012, when he was tearing it up with New York. “Linsanity” was defying stereotypes left and right, but that didn’t matter to Bryant. He just wanted good players around him.
In one instance, Kobe was seen yelling at Lin to foul the opponent to stop the clock, but Lin wasn’t listening, and Kobe furiously ran over and fouled the opponent himself. In another instance, he yelled at Lin on the sideline of a game for not sliding to help out. And finally, he would constantly berate Lin for not shooting in a team scrimmages. Bryant was a borderline bully to Lin. Once Lin became a free agent, he jumped ship to Charlotte instead of staying in L.A. Maybe he never outwardly said he hated being a Laker, but it sure seemed like it.
7. Maurice Lucas
Finally, someone outside the Kobe era. Big man Maurice Lucas was brought to L.A. in 1985 by Jerry West in order to dominate the boards. His nickname, “The Enforcer” fit him on, and off the court. Lucas was known to be a little bit of a diva, and even threw a tantrum after being stuck in coach on a flight.
According to players at the team, Lucas was disruptive in meetings, constantly combating Magic Johnson and Pat Riley, and it culminated when Magic told Riley to “get him out of the game, I can’t play with this motherf***** anymore.” Needless to say, the following year, Lucas was shipped off to Seattle, and this was seen as one of West’s worst moves of his front office career. Sadly, in 2010, Lucas passed away from cancer, but left a great legacy in the NBA.
6. Smush Parker
During the same era as Kwame Brown, Smush Parker hated being part of Kobe’s team. The undrafted guard out of Fordham was the at front of Kobe’s “Black Mamba” insults. He told Smush he was the worst and shouldn’t have been in the NBA, and that the only reason he was on the Lakers was because they “were too cheap to pay for a point guard.” Damn, no wonder Parker hated being one of his teammates!
The stories get even worse, and after his time in L.A., Parker told Lakers Nation in an interview, “He told me one day at practice — I tried to talk to him outside of basketball about football. And he looked at me in practice and was dead serious and said, ‘You can’t talk to me. You need more accolades under your belt before you come talk to me.'”
5. Robert Horry
Robert Horry was an integral member of the Lakers three-peat in the early 2000s, but we all know that basketball is a business. After Los Angeles failed at bringing home four-straight championships in 2003, Horry was released from the team, and not under the best pretences. For a better story, why don’t you read what Horry said about the Lakers in The Players Tribune.
However, as dominant as we were in that three-peat run, I feel we could’ve done more if it weren’t for egos and complacency. Honestly, I left the Lakers with so much hatred for that team. I felt that the way they handled my situation was so wrong…
…All I asked them was to allow me to find a team before the money dried up and not to wait until the last day to release me. They told me, “We won’t do you like that.” […] Well, they didn’t do me like that. They waited until the next to last day to release me.
4. Andrew Bynum
Bynum was one of the last players in the NBA to come straight out of high school, and the seven-footer acted like it. He was immature on the floor, despite being physically gifted, and needed serious coaching to become a decent center. The problem again though was Kobe Bryant.
In regards to his development as a player and being Kobe’s teammate, Bynum said “I thought it really helped me a lot obviously at first, because he draws so much attention it’s hard for guys to double team and key on you, so it helped me tremendously. Later, I felt I was able to get the ball more and do more things with the ball, so I could definitely see how it could stunt growth.” Maybe, like most of these guys, he didn’t hate being a Laker, but just hated being around Kobe.
3. Adam Morrison
The only thing worse than Adam Morrison’s rat ‘stache is his play on the court. The Charlotte Bobcats took a chance on the Gonzaga forward with the third-overall pick of the 2006 draft. In college, Morrison looked dominant on the floor, and had a great outside game as well. The only problem is that the former Bulldog’s style of play never fit into the mold of the NBA.
Morrison was traded from the Bobcats to the Lakers in 2009, and rarely saw the floor. Although he technically has two championship rings, Morrison was just a court-side spectator at that point. He was released in 2010, and tried his luck overseas, but his career still never took off. A huge bust that hated winning two championships, because he was just another fan!
2. Chris Mihm
Mihm was just another guy that fell in the fire that is Kobe Bryant’s ego, or “Black Mamba” mentality. The former University of Texas center came into the league in 2000 with the seventh-overall pick, and established himself as role player. Pretty much, he just got boards and put backs. Our story starts when the Lakers acquired Mihm in 2004.
In the post-Shaq era, the Lakers were searching for a big man that could compliment and tolerate Kobe’s game. But, during the 2005-06 season, when Kobe was interviewed, he said “What was I supposed to do, pass the ball to Chris Mihm? Chris Mihm?”
1. Dwight Howard
Didn’t the Lakers learn from the first time they acquired a center from the Magic? Los Angeles traded for the All-Star shot blocker in a blockbuster deal in 2012. The Lakers were looking to get back into the championship fold, and what better to do than bring in a younger version of Shaq. As the theme of this list continues though, Howard’s ego and personality did not fit with Kobe’s game plan.
Fans were used to the “Black Mamba” scowl, Kobe’s signature game face. They wanted to see that determination in Howard, but he was more lighthearted and playful in his game, constantly smiling and cracking jokes. You better believe Bryant didn’t like that. On top of all joking, he was struggling to run the pick-and-roll offense that Coach D’Antoni implemented. Howard left L.A. after two years, and we can now truly say he hated being a Laker.
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