Throughout his legendary 20-year career in the NBA, the Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant has dominated the game of basketball. With his innate ability to score when it matters and lead his team to victory in the face of adversity, Bryant will go down as one of the greatest individual players of all-time.
However, the “Black Mamba” did not become a five-time NBA champion on his own as several elite teammates assisted him in that venture. From Shaquille O'Neal and Derek Fisher in the Lakers' three-peat from 1999-2002 to Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom at the turn of the decade, Bryant's supporting cast has played a huge role in his success.
But for every player that helped Bryant achieve legendary status, there were teammates that just couldn't play alongside the surefire future Hall of Famer. Whether it was their below average skill level or a lack of chemistry, certain players were out of their element as Bryant's teammate.
With the Lakers being one of the main powerhouses of the Western Conference during the first half of Bryant's career, the team's weaknesses were not as apparent. But after Shaquille O'Neal's controversial departure from Los Angeles prior to the 2004-05 season, Bryant endured some difficult seasons with the Lakers. The team's lack of spending led to several forgettable players suiting up for the team as Bryant's efforts went to waste.
Even through his return to championship glory, Bryant played with some teammates whose contributions – or lack thereof – have become comical in retrospect. There have also been some superstar players that simply couldn't hack it alongside Bryant.
With that in mind, let's take a look at the Top 15 worst teammates of Kobe Bryant's legendary career.
15 Sun Yue
Before there was Linsanity, there was Who Are Yue? After enjoying a successful career in the Chinese Basketball Association, Sun Yue was the 40th overall draft pick by the Lakers in 2007. He stayed behind in China for one more year before joining the Lakers for the 2008-09 season. However, a bout with mononucleosis pushed back his debut and when he got healthy, Yue only played in 10 games with just six points in the NBA to his credit. But he did get a championship ring out of his stint with the Lakers as the team won the NBA Finals in his lone season in the league.
14 Dennis Rodman
The controversial, eccentric, and sometimes bizarre Rodman is best known for being one of the Chicago Bulls' toughest players during the mid-to-late 1990s. He is also known as one of the fiercest rebounders in NBA history. But in the twilight of his career, the volatile power forward actually had a 23 game stint with the Lakers during the lockout-shortened 1998-1999 season. He averaged just 2.1 points during that stint prior to his release. Rodman's stint with the nWo in WCW had more of an impact than his time in Los Angeles.
13 Brian Grant
Acquired from the Miami Heat as part of the Shaquille O'Neal trade, Grant was coming off a productive four-year stint with the Heat. However, he struggled to replicate any of that success in 2004-05 as he averaged a then-career low 3.8 points and 3.7 rebounds in 69 games. “The General” was released after the season, spending his last few years with the Phoenix Suns and Boston Celtics. In 2009, it was revealed that Grant was diagnosed with “early onset” Parkinson's Disease.
12 Adam Morrison
One of the biggest draft busts in recent memory, Morrison was drafted third overall by the Charlotte Bobcats in the 2006 NBA Draft. But he couldn't translate his college success into the NBA and a torn ACL in 2007 didn't help matters. The Lakers acquired Morrison in a trade and he was actually a part of both the 2008-09 and 2009-10 Lakers' championship teams. But he only appeared in 39 total games during his time in Los Angeles. Morrison's name recently made headlines as his former teammate Jared Dudley said in a radio appearance that Morrison never took showers and had to be forced by teammates to do so.
11 Ronny Turiaf
If cheerleading from the bench counted, Turiaf might be Bryant's greatest teammate ever. However, the bearded big man from France was just a bench player who provided a spark with his energy. Unluckily for him, Turiaf just missed being a part of the Lakers' two championship winning teams after the 2007-08 season as he signed a four-year, $17 million deal with the Golden State Warriors. Turiaf survived a six-hour open heart surgery before joining the Lakers in 2005.
10 Josh Powell
After Turiaf's departure, Powell signed with the Lakers to fill the “marginally talented, adequately-sized bench player” role. Powell played in 123 games during his two seasons with the Lakers but only made one start in that time. However, unlike Turiaf, Powell was in the right place at the right time and has two NBA championships to his name. The 2008-09 and 2009-10 Lakers teams certainly helped to make several players with marginal talent champions in the history books.
9 Vlade Divac
In an ironic twist, the player that the Lakers traded to acquire Bryant during the 1996 NBA Draft re-signed with the team for the 2004-05 season. Sadly, Divac struggled with injuries that season and only appeared in 15 games and averaged a mere 2.3 points. Once one of the Lakers' best players during his first seven seasons in the league, it was an unceremonious finish to a great career in the NBA. Divac is currently the vice president of basketball operations and general manager of the Sacramento Kings.
8 D.J. Mbenga
Much like Adam Morrison, Mbenga was a part of both the 2008-09 and 2009-10 Lakers championship teams. But despite being popular with the fans, Mbenga was just a bench player who struggled in all facets of the game. He averaged just 2.3 points during his two-year stint in Los Angeles before leaving to sign with the Milwaukee Bucks. Mbenga's claim to fame is saying “tacos” in a funny Youtube video.
7 Javaris Crittenton
The 17th overall pick in the 2007 NBA Draft, Crittenton had a lot of promise after coming out of his native Atlanta, Georgia. But Crittenton's stint with the Lakers didn't even last one season as he was traded to the Memphis Grizzlies in the trade that brought Pau Gasol to Los Angeles. After bouncing around the league following the trade, Crittenton's career was over as quickly as he started. After allegedly shooting and killing a 22-year-old woman in 2011, Crittenton was arrested and was set to begin trial this year. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 23 years in prison and the entire ordeal was covered in a lengthy feature by FOX Sports' Flinder Boyd.
6 Steve Nash
Much like Bryant, the sharpshooting guard from Canada is a surefire Hall of Famer, but his stint with the Lakers will not be the reason why. The all-time leader in free-throwing shooting percentage joined the Lakers in a sign-and-trade with the Phoenix Suns prior to the 2012-13 season. The Lakers had assembled some elite players to play alongside Bryant and Nash was expected to bring his veteran savvy and passing skills to Los Angeles. However, Nash suffered a non-displaced fracture in his left leg during his second game with the Lakers. The injury, for all intents and purposes, ended his career. Nash struggled with nerve damage in his leg stemming from the injury for the rest of his career, ultimately retiring this past March. Nash and Bryant were barely on the court at the same time as both struggled to stay healthy the last three years.
5 Slava Medvedenko
The Russian big man had the size and shooting skill to be a success, but his ability to translate his tools into success never happened. Medvedenko enjoyed some success as a starter during the 2003-04 season due to injuries to Karl Malone. However, Medvedenko just couldn't stay healthy and was eventually released. Bryant said in an interview with Jemele Hill of ESPN for BET's 'Genius Talks' that he once told a “European kid” whose name he “can't even pronounce” that he should “reconsider what your life purpose is.” It's possible he was referring to Medvedenko due to the timeline of events that Bryant mentioned.
4 Chris Mihm
While he wasn't a terrible player, Mihm faced the unenviable task of trying to replace Shaquille O'Neal. In his first full season with the Lakers in 2005-06, Mihm averaged a career-high 10.2 points through 59 games but it was all downhill from there. He struggled to stay healthy in his three-year stint with the Lakers before signing with the Memphis Grizzlies in early 2009. However, the injuries were too much to overcome as Mihm never played another game after departing from the Lakers.
3 Smush Parker
Parker has become a scapegoat of the Lakers' struggles in the post-Shaq era and a lot of it has to do with Kobe Bryant. After the Lakers signed Steve Nash, Bryant told the Los Angeles Times "Smush Parker was the worst. He shouldn't have been in the NBA, but we were too cheap to pay for a point guard. We let him walk on." It wasn't like Parker was completely atrocious with the Lakers as he averaged 11.3 points and 3.2 assists during his two seasons. Yet, Bryant's comments on Parker will hold more weight than anything Parker contributed to the Lakers.
2 Kwame Brown
A former first overall pick in the 2001 NBA Draft, Brown is considered by many as the biggest bust in NBA history. After struggling to live up to expectations with the Washington Wizards, Brown made his way to the Lakers during the team's rebuilding phase. However, much like his time in Washington, Brown's time in LA was mired with inconsistent play and fan disapproval. Bryant even shared a story once of how Brown's poor ball handling ability was costing the team victories. Brown's biggest contribution was being a part of the trade that netted the Lakers Pau Gasol as the team returned to its former glory.
1 Dwight Howard
The story of Howard's time with the Lakers is eerily similar to what happened when the Lakers originally acquired Shaquille O'Neal, but ended much worse and much quicker. Acquired in a four-team, 11-player trade from the Orlando Magic, Lakers fans, executives, and Kobe Bryant himself all hoped that Howard's arrival signaled a new era in Laker basketball. But the talented center struggled to adjust to life in Los Angeles and being Bryant's teammate. The Lakers struggled all season and barely made the playoffs, losing in the first round. Howard signed a lucrative contract with the Houston Rockets in free agency and it was rumored that his relationship with Bryant was the reason why. The issues between Howard and Bryant have been well publicized with both men taking shots at each other on numerous occasions. Howard's time with the Laker is best described by slightly altering a lyric from Taylor Swift's song 'Blank Space.'
“Cause darling you were a Dwightmare wrapped in a daydream.”
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