The 80s basketball scene was the most competitive in all of the NBA's great history. Dynasties battled it out every year and the league was full of basketball legends. One team that was able to separate themselves as one of the best teams ever was the 1986-87 Los Angeles Lakers. While the Lakers had some dominant teams in the 80s, none did it better than these guys. The Lakers went 65-17 in 1986-87, securing their legacy as one of the best teams of all time. Not only did they have a successful regular season, but the Lakers managed to beat all of the top talent the league had to offer, including the Larry Bird-led Celtics in six games to take home the Larry O'Brien trophy. The 1986-87 Lakers consisted of three Hall of Fame players, including Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and James Worthy. Other great role players such as Byron Scott, Michael Cooper, and A.C. Green were incredibly effective in the success of the team. This team had Pat Riley as the coach. Riley has definitely earned a reputation as a basketball icon.
The 1986-87 Lakers are usually overlooked when considering the best teams of all time. Overshadowed by teams such as the 1995-96 Bulls and this past year's Warriors, this Lakers team really should be in the conversation of the greatest teams of all time. Being able to dominate the league while the NBA was so deep in talent, the Lakers did not have an easy path to the trophy.
Some of the players on this Lakers team have retired and some are still working, their current whereabouts and lifestyles are unknown to many. Considering this team's magical run was over 30 years ago, life is much different for the players now than it was for them back in the 80s.
In this article, we will be looking at all of the players on this legendary Lakers squad, and where they are now.
Here are the members of the legendary 1986-87 L.A. Lakers, and where they are today.
Click the button below to start this article in quick view
13 Pat Riley
Pat Riley is one of the most influential and successful basketball minds to ever be involved in the NBA. He coached the Lakers to four NBA championships, and has also been at the top of the basketball world as a player and as an executive. The Lakers respected Riley, as he knew how to be successful and utilize every amazing player on the team. Every legendary team has a legendary coach, and the 1986-87 Lakers are no different.
Pat Riley is now currently the team president of the Miami Heat. He has held that position since 1995, winning three championships during his tenure so far in Miami.
12 Mike Smrek
The 7-footer from Canada played two seasons with the Lakers, winning himself two rings. He wasn't very effective for the Lakers, as he only played 35 games for the team, averaging 2.2 ppg. Still, even though he was never a star of the team, it doesn't change the fact he will go down as being a member of one of the best teams ever.
Today, Mike Smrek is employed as a Construction Technology teacher at St. Paul High School in Niagara Falls, Ontario and he also works part-time as a carpenter in Welland, Ontario.
11 Adrian Branch
Adrian Branch was a reserve wing player for the Lakers, ultimately not becoming one of the key pieces of the team. He got about seven minutes a game, where he contributed about 4 points a night.
His career path has brought him to broadcasting. In 2004, Branch became a TV color analyst for Charlotte Bobcats games. In 2007, Adrian Branch joined ESPN as a college basketball analyst.
10 Wes Matthews
Wes Matthews was one of the backup point guards of the Lakers team. Matthews was a solid passer and could shoot as well. Scoring is definitely in Matthews' DNA, as he is the father to the current Dallas Maverick Wesley Matthews, who can really fill it up.
Wes has since kept a low profile, as he seems to enjoy retirement and cheering on his son Wesley. He now lives in his hometown of Sarasota, Florida.
9 Billy Thompson
Billy Thompson only played in 59 games for the Lakers due to injuries, but he still tried hard to make his presence felt for the team. Averaging 5.6 points in only about 13 minutes a night, Thompson was effective when he was placed on the floor.
After his basketball career was over, Thompson had problems with drugs and alcohol, which was ruining much of his life. He then became a born-again Christian, which he indicates helped him get back on the right track in life. Thompson is currently enjoying a sober life with his family.
8 Mychal Thompson
Mychal Thompson was traded to the Lakers half-way through the season to backup Kareem and to play lockdown defense on Celtics forward Kevin McHale. He did not disappoint and was a key factor in the Lakers series win against the Celtics, as he was a great piece to the team on offense and especially defense.
As of 2011, Mychal Thompson co-hosts ESPNLA NOW, on KSPN AM 710 from 10 AM-noon on weekdays. Thompson has also showed interest in becoming the Bahamian Prime Minister. His hometown of Nassau recently named a street after him, "Mychal Thompson Boulevard," in his honor in 2015.
7 Kurt Rambis
Loved by his peers and Lakers fans, Kurt Rambis did the "dirty work" for the team. Mostly known for his defensive and rebounding skills, Rambis wasn't afraid to get physical with anybody in the league. Rambis had a very successful Laker career, as he won four NBA championships with the franchise.
In 2014, the Knicks announced that Rambis would be the assistant coach of the team. With Derek Fisher's recent firing, Rambis was named the interim head coach of the New York Knicks. Rambis spent this past season trying to teach the Knicks how to play hard every possession, just like he did in his playing days. His status with the Knicks is up in the air with the recent hiring of Jeff Hornacek as head coach.
6 A.C. Green
Being only a second year player during the 1986-87 season with the Lakers didn't stop Green from asserting himself as one of the top players on the team. Playing in the shadow of Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Green averaged about 11 points and 8 rebounds per game, which are very solid numbers for a young kid.
Green is vocal about being a very religious man, as he freely admits he was a virgin until he met his wife in 2002. His A.C. Green Youth Foundation runs camps promoting abstinence until marriage. In 2011, he was awarded the Bobby Jones Award by Athletes in Action for character, leadership, and faith in the world of basketball.
5 Michael Cooper
Michael Cooper had a very successful NBA career. He was a five-time NBA champion, made eight All-NBA defensive teams, and even won the defensive player of the year award during the 1986-87 season, the year we are looking back at. Larry Bird even admitted that Cooper was the best defender he ever faced, which is some serious recognition from one of the greatest players of all time. Cooper was an integral part of the Lakers team. Without him, the Lakers would not have been the same successful team they were.
Michael Cooper is currently the head coach of the Atlanta Dream of the WNBA. In 2014, Cooper was diagnosed with tongue cancer, but thankfully, a full recovery is expected for him.
4 Byron Scott
Scott was one of the most important players on the Lakers team, as he averaged 17 points a game for the team during their 1986-87 championship season. Scott was a knockdown three-point shooter that year, as his percentage was an impressive .436% from downtown. Byron really knew how to score, as he helped stretch the floor for the Lakers "run and gun" offense.
Byron Scott was the Lakers' coach last year, where they finished 17-65. The Lakers did not offer Scott a contract to return, instead hiring Luke Walton. Scott is now without a job in the NBA, but he still has his non-profit organization, The Byron Scott Children’s Fund, which has raised more than $15 million over the past decade, with the proceeds going to various children’s charities.
3 James Worthy
"Big Game James!" James Worthy is widely regarded as one of the most clutch performers in NBA history, earning him his famous nickname. Worthy always stepped it up in the playoffs, as he averaged 23.6 ppg in the postseason. He was one of the biggest performers in the series against the Celtics as well. James Worthy was one of the biggest contributors this team had to offer.
On September 28, 2015, James Worthy was hired as an assistant coach for the Lakers in the player development department. The young players coached by Worthy are undoubtedly getting advice from one of the best in the business, as they look to grow their own talents.
2 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
Even though he was on the back-end of his legendary NBA career, Kareem was one of the most vital pieces in the Lakers' success. Kareem's list of accolades is too long to repeat in this article, so I won't even try it, but I will mention that he holds the record for most career points in all of the NBA's history. Kareem will always be known for his iconic "skyhook" shot, which was just unfair to his opponents as he lifted it over any defender in the league for years.
Kareem is one of the most beloved athletes and is a total celebrity. Life after basketball has been filled with coaching, movies, and TV appearances. Kareem has spent much of his time raising money for his favorite charities through fundraisers and other public events. Sadly, in April 2015, Abdul-Jabbar was admitted to the hospital when he was diagnosed with cardiovascular disease. Later that week, on his 68th birthday, he underwent quadruple coronary bypass surgery at the UCLA Medical Center. We hope for the best for Kareem. Fortunately, he's expected to make a full recovery.
1 Magic Johnson
The 1986-87 season was probably Magic Johnson's best season. He averaged 23.9 ppg, 12.2 apg, and 6.3 rpg as he led the Lakers night in and night out. Magic was the undisputed leader of the team, so most of the success can be attributed directly to him. Arguably one of the best players ever, Magic Johnson is what comes to mind when the "Showtime" Lakers dynasty is discussed.
Johnson is enjoying retirement, as he is a very rich man who lives elegantly. Magic has engaged in many business ventures. Most recently, in 2015, Johnson completed his planned acquisition for a "majority, controlling interest" in EquiTrust Life Insurance Company. The company manages $14.5 billion in annuities, life insurance and other financial products.
Magic will always be a most beloved Los Angeles Laker, and a role model for many.
Leave A Comment
Looking for an AD FREE EXPERIENCE on TheSportster?Get Your Free Access Now!