The Los Angeles Lakers are unquestionably the most popular NBA franchise. They are equivalent to the New York Yankees or Dallas Cowboys for their worldwide appeal and success. They’ve won 15 NBA championships, put 30 members into the Hall of Fame and have had some of the most iconic players in NBA history.
The Lakers have done what very few sports teams have done: they have transcended sports. Thanks to Dr. Jerry Buss, Showtime and Lakers Girls, going to a Lakers game is seen as more of a form of entertainment than simply a sporting event. Thank goodness the franchise moved from Minneapolis to Los Angeles, as there is no backdrop quite like Hollywood.
Those are the things that the NBA wants you to know about the Los Angeles Lakers. However, there are many things they would rather you not hear about. As esteemed as the Lakers are today, many of those most famous players can’t escape their controversial pasts. These things include all of the franchise’s biggest names: Magic, Kareem, Kobe, Shaq and more. Things like Kobe dating a 17-year-old, Jerry West and Phil Jackson not getting along and anything Lonzo Ball-related are things that don’t make this list! But I promise the 15 entries below are well worth your time to view, so here are 15 things the NBA wants you to forget about the Los Angeles Lakers.
15. Magic Johnson Slept With Hundreds Of Women Every Year
The 2Pac song “I Get Around” could have easily been the theme song for Earvin “Magic” Johnson during his heyday. After acknowledging that he was HIV-positive, Magic was asked how many women he’s slept with. He didn’t tally the females through the years, but he did say he had been sleeping with 300-500 women per year….PER YEAR!! These conquests weren’t just confined to the bedroom, as Magic said he had sex in the Lakers locker room and even the team sauna. After a game, he would go back to the locker room where multiple women would be waiting for him. He’d then take care of business off the court just like he did on the court, slip on a robe, and then conduct his post-game interview as if the game was his only action of the night.
14. Dr. Jerry Buss Was A Playboy
You’ll see the words “Buss” and “Playboy” in a later entry as well, but the legendary owner of the Lakers loved younger women and wasn’t shy about it. Even well into his 70s, Buss was fond of women over 50 years younger than him, and he never remarried after divorcing at the age of 39. One of these women is Liza Hernandez who, after Buss’ passing in 2013, would later date boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. (Think about that: she went from dating a man worth about $600 million to dating a man worth about $400 million. Poor girl…I hope she can survive.)
Anyway, in 2007, the then-74-year-old Buss was arrested for DUI after driving his Benz on the wrong side of the road. The passenger in the vehicle was a 23-year-old from New York who certainly wasn’t a relative of his, but she would later be spotted with Buss at the World Series of Poker.
13. Shaq Slapped Kobe During A Pick-up Game
We all know about the Kobe Bryant-Shaquille O’Neal feud which, we thought, was only a verbal war. But it turns out things did become physical between the two on one occasion. During the lockout in 1998-99, there was a two-on-two game with Shaq and Derek Fisher against Kobe and Corie Blount. During the game, Kobe, in his hypercompetitive way, became overly physical which resulted in Shaq slapping him in the face. With Shaq tipping the scales at about 330 lbs and Kobe being just 20 years old, the “fight” ended there. Fisher would later say that it was really neither player’s fault and the way that Kobe was playing was how all of the Lakers should compete. Their feud would carry on for another 10 years or so, but this is the only known instance of their beef turning physical.
12. James Worthy Was Busted For Soliciting A Prostitute
Big Game James spent time in the big house for solicitation in 1990. The Lakers were on an early-season road trip and were down in Houston. The night before playing the Rockets, Worthy was out looking for some female companionship and found it in the form of a prostitute. Unfortunately for Worthy, the prostitution service had recently been replaced with an undercover police operation. Worthy was arrested on two counts of solicitation of prostitution and jailed in Houston, and later posted a $500 bail and was released just minutes before tip-off. He made it to the game during the first quarter, came off the bench for the first time in four years, and proceeded to live up to his nickname by pouring in 24 points in a five-point Lakers victory.
11. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Hated Lakers Fans
The NBA’s all-time leading scorer may have also been the most irritable player in league history. A former writer for Sports Illustrated described Kareem as treating Lakers fans like “liquid crap.” Back in the 1980s, NBA teams would fly commercial and fans would always approach players for autographs. But instead of obliging, Cap would sit on a toilet and read a book until the plane was ready to depart. But it wasn’t just fans that Kareem disliked, as he also had a poor relationship with the media and his teammates alike. He didn’t make many connections during his illustrious career which is why he struggled to obtain coaching jobs when he retired. Derek Fisher became a head coach right after he retired but one of the five greatest players in NBA history could only land a head coaching job in the now-defunct USBL more than a decade after he retired.
10. Kobe Bryant’s Hotel Room Incident
This is the forgotten part of Kobe Bryant’s career, but his arrest in 2003 was huge news and the case even has its own Wikipedia page. In the end, the accuser admitted that she was not assaulted and the sex was consensual, but this was a major stain on Kobe’s image. It was revealed during police records that Kobe lied to police about any type of sexual contact and later said that strangling his partner during the act “was his thing.”
Kobe also admitted that this wasn’t his first adulterous relationship and then threw teammate Shaquille O’Neal under the bus by saying, “I should have just paid her off like Shaq does.” It also hurt Kobe, financially, as he lost endorsements with McDonald’s and Nutella despite the case being dismissed. But the biggest loss was Kobe writing a check for $4 million that covered the apology ring he gave his wife for cheating on her.
9. Larry Nance Made Jokes About Kobe’s Hotel Room Incident
Larry Nance Jr. is one of the most popular current Lakers due to his above-the-rim play. But before being drafted by L.A., Nance went after maybe the most popular Laker of all-time, Kobe Bryant. In 2012 the Lakers, and Bryant, were playing the Denver Nuggets in the playoffs, and when the series shifted to Denver, Nance decided to remind the world that Kobe’s sexual assault happened in the Mile High City:
Seems the Lakers' new draft pick just deleted this old tweet from 2012. Probably a good idea. pic.twitter.com/kC33QuIvPL
— Baxter Holmes (@Baxter) June 26, 2015
Of course, the “sexual assault” was proven to be consensual, so Nance’s hashtag is neither true nor funny. Three years later, Nance happened to be drafted by the Lakers during Kobe’s final season. The rookie said he was sick to his stomach and nearly puked over his three-year-old-since-deleted tweet and sent Kobe a letter. Kobe forgave him, but you best believe the Mamba didn’t forget about his new teammate’s tweet.
8. Jerry West Hired A Private Investigator To Spy On A Player
In the early 1980s, Jerry West had elevated to the GM position with the Lakers. One of the team’s best players was point guard Norm Nixon, who shared the ballhandling duties with Magic Johnson. West suspected that Nixon was one of many NBA players indulging in cocaine at the time so he hired a private investigator to spy on Nixon. However, it turns out that the PI was a Lakers fan and he notified Nixon of his boss’s intentions. When Nixon confronted West about the allegation, West pleaded ignorance but their relationship was severed beyond repair.
Shortly thereafter, West would trade Nixon to the Clippers, where the point guard would lead the league in assists. However, the Lakers ended up the true winners of the trade as they netted rookie Byron Scott in return; he would become the new backcourt-mate of Magic Johnson.
7. Owner Jack Kent Cooke Was Married Five Times
Cooke was certainly a worthy predecessor to Dr. Jerry Buss, as both owners had an affinity for the ladies. Cooke was married five times in his life although the last two marriages were to the same woman. His first marriage lasted 45 years but ended with the largest divorce settlement in history at $42 million. His second marriage went for 10 months and his third went for 10 weeks. However, those 10 weeks were still long enough for the 74-year-old Cooke to impregnate his 31-year-old wife. She walked away with $15 million from her divorce. Cooke’s fourth and fifth marriages were to the same woman who became infamous for being arrested for driving a car with a man clasping on the hood. When Cooke died, he left her out of his will but she still sued his estate and walked away with $20 million.
6. Magic Johnson Got His Coach Fired
Don’t let the million-dollar smile fool you, Earvin “Magic” Johnson was an assassin on and off the court. He won a title as a rookie, but clashed with the Lakers’ head coach, Paul Westhead, who still thought that Kareem Abdul-Jabbar should be the team’s focal point. After an early playoff exit in his second season, and a slow start to the following year, the tug-of-war between Magic and Westhead ended as the coach was fired. Behind the scenes, Magic gave the Lakers an ultimatum of “it’s either me or him.” Since 22-year-olds like Magic Johnson don’t grow on trees, the player won out and the coach was canned. A young assistant named Pat Riley then took over, gave the reins of the offense to Magic, and Showtime was born.
5. Two Lakers Were Accused Of Harassment
The 2015-16 season ended up being Kobe Bryant’s swan song in the NBA, but an accusation against two of Kobe’s teammates took part of the spotlight from the Mamba. Nick Young and Jordan Clarkson were accused by a women’s activist of making “vulgar, sexual” gestures towards the woman’s 68-year-old mother. The two women were leaving a restaurant in Los Angeles when the two Lakers pulled up to them and made the sexual gestures. The activist didn’t know who they were at the time, but she later posted a picture of them, which is how the players were identified.
The Lakers followed up by saying there were “different interpretations” of what happened and neither of the players were disciplined by the team or the NBA. Jones also never pressed charges and the matter was quickly forgotten about.
4. Spencer Haywood Plotted To Kill A Coach
Haywood was a four-time All-Star during the 1970s but got caught up in the NBA’s drug epidemic later that decade. He joined the Lakers in the 1979-80 season as Kareem’s backup and the Lakers reached the NBA Finals. But while high on drugs, Haywood fell asleep during a team meeting, was suspended, and was then kicked off the team by head coach Paul Westhead. Haywood wouldn’t go down without a fight so he plotted with some of his friends back in Detroit to kill Westhead. They apparently were going to sabotage his vehicle in some way but fortunately, Haywood’s mother talked some sense into him.
Haywood then talked to his Detroit buddies again and deterred them from killing Westhead. The Lakers would win the 1980 NBA Finals which gave Haywood his only career ring, and he would eventually be inducted into the Pro Basketball Hall of Fame.
3. Javaris Crittenton Joined A Gang While With The Lakers
Crittenton was a high school teammate of Dwight Howard, a member of the Future Business Leaders of America, and was handpicked by Phil Jackson to be the Lakers point guard of the future. However, whenever Crittenton moved out to LA, that’s when his problems started. He joined the notorious Crips gang in Los Angeles and lived out the gangster lifestyle during his NBA career. He was involved in the infamous “Wild, Wild West Showdown” with Gilbert Arenas in a locker room in which both players drew guns on the other.
Crittenton was also the trigger-man in a shooting that killed an innocent mother of four in 2011. He meant to shoot someone he believed that had previously robbed him, but Crittenton ended up killing the woman. The shooting happened in Atlanta but Crittenton was on the run and was captured in Los Angeles. In 2015, he pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and sentenced to 23 years in prison.
2. Magic Johnson Hosted Midnight “Group Activities” At His Mansion
Frank Brickowski spent just 37 games as Magic Johnson’s teammate, but that was long enough to partake in Magic’s infamous house parties. Here is what Brickowski once said: “If you die and go to heaven, you want heaven to be Magic’s house parties.” Magic would frequently open his home to Lakers teammates, celebrities and other A-listers during the Showtime era. But Magic was more than just a host at his parties, he was also the “director.” He would stroll through his house, make sure everyone was having a good time, and even direct the action of his guests. Brickowski said Magic would even instruct people do to “something” as he knew that was the point of them being there. It didn’t matter if it was in his pool, on his couch or on a guest bedroom. At Magic Johnson’s house parties, everyone had to be doing something.
1. Lakers Owner Jeanie Buss Posed For Hefner
Today she is one of three female owners in the NBA, but 22 years ago, Jeanie Buss had no affiliation with the Lakers outside of her father being the team’s owner. In 1995, Buss was the president of the Great Western Forum, which is where the Lakers played. She was also a 33-year-old attractive blonde who wanted to make a name for herself. Buss did just that by taking it all off in Playboy magazine with a basketball-themed photoshoot. Many of the pictures were taken in the Forum and contained strategically-placed basketballs. Other photos contained no such items and featured Buss fully nude. In 1999, Buss would officially join the Lakers as a vice president of basketball operations, and in 2017, she became majority owner of the team.
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