The Los Angeles Lakers are one of the most storied franchises in all sports. They have won 16 championships - amounting to the second most overall in the NBA with their first victory taking place in 1949 while their latest occurred in 2010. Following some years in the lottery, the Lakers are once again ready to compete among the elite teams thanks to the addition of LeBron James.
And while it's a process that may not immediately bring results, Lakers are expected to strengthen their roster next season to become a contender once again. Over the years, the team has had many legendary players who are still fondly remembered as of today due to their contributions to the game. And while playing for the Lakers is a dream for so many players - including many current stars who have gone on record to say it - the experience doesn't always turn out to be as delightful as expected.
Many have had regrets about joining the team in the first place since they went on to be miserable during their tenure, while others found themselves warming the bench and never got back on track. But of course there have also been many players who opted to leave the Lakers for more money or play time elsewhere, although they would end up resenting their decision afterward. With today's list, we discuss 10 NBA players who regretted playing for the Los Angeles Lakers and 10 who regretted leaving the team.
20 Regretted Playing: Gary Payton
In the summer of 2003, Gary Payton and Karl Malone shocked the NBA world by joining the already stacked Los Angeles Lakers. Coming off a three-peat, there were massive expectations for the Lakers despite some trouble between Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant.
The season ended in major disappointment as they lost to the Detroit Pistons, leaving Payton without a ring.
It was a down year for him that earned him criticism from fans, mainly due to his performances in the Playoffs. He would end up getting traded in the summer to the Boston Celtics, and went on to join the Miami Heat to finally scoop a ring.
19 Regretted Leaving: Antawn Jamison
Antawn Jamison was a two-time NBA All-Star who carved out a respectable career as one of the best big man scorers of his generation. From his days with the Golden State Warriors to the Cleveland Cavaliers, Jamison was always a double-figure scorer with his lowest scoring season taking place in 2009-10 when he averaged 15.8, while his highest was 24.9 PPG in 2000-01. But as soon as joined the Los Angeles Lakers in the summer of 2012, Jamison saw an instant dip in his numbers as his minutes decreased over the course of the season. He would leave the summer afterward after having grown frustrated with the team.
18 Regretted Playing: Dennis Rodman
Coming off major success with the Chicago Bulls, Dennis Rodman found himself without a team once the championship core was split up. He found a suitor in the Los Angeles Lakers who were hoping to make a successful run to the Finals after two years of disappointment. And while the team did get off to a great start, Rodman claims that he asked for a release as he couldn't handle the never-ending drama between Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant.
That stint with the Lakers didn't do his career any favors as Rodman would only go on to play one more season in the NBA.
17 Regretted Leaving: Shannon Brown
Shannon Brown had three solid years with the Los Angeles Lakers as he became a two-time NBA champion and was elected to participate in the NBA Slam Dunk Contest.
Following the 2010-11 season, Brown declined his player option to remain the team as he was looking for more money on the open market.
He would join the Phoenix Suns who made him the best offer among his suitors, and while he had two decent years with the team - they weren't particularly memorable as the Suns missed the Playoffs in both years. Brown went from being a fan favorite in Los Angeles to a forgotten name within two years.
16 Regretted Playing: Luol Deng
Fans were skeptical when the Lakers handed out a four-year, $72 million contract to Luol Deng in 2016. The team was desperately attempting to return to the Playoffs, while also keeping fans interested after Kobe Bryant had left the team. But Deng's stint went as badly as it could have and he only played 59 games in his first season, while dressing up for one more the following season before the team shut him down for the remainder of the year. Last month, he reached a buyout agreement with the Lakers - marking an end of a bad era for both sides.
15 Regretted Leaving: Bob McAdoo
Bob McAdoo joined the Los Angeles Lakers in his final years in the NBA to provide a spark off the bench.
He had been an MVP in the past as well as five-time All-Star, and while he was relegated to the bench on the Lakers - he still played a crucial role in their two championships in 1982 and then 1985. But instead of finishing his career with the team on a high note, McAdoo decided to sign with the Philadelphia 76ers for one more year - which didn't exactly play out as he had hoped prior to the season.
14 Regretted Playing: Smush Parker
In his two years with the Los Angeles Lakers, Smush Parker was able to earn the starting spot at point guard. He would look at his stint with the two more fondly if it hadn't been for his bitter relationship with Kobe Bryant.
Parker has always criticized Bryant for having been selfish and disrespectful towards him, and the two continued exchanging words a decade after they played together.
Bryant went as far as to refer to Parker as the worst, adding that he should have never made it on an NBA court. If it hadn't been for the heated relationship with Kobe, then Parker would have surely enjoyed a once in a lifetime experience.
13 Regretted Leaving: Horace Grant
Horace Grant is a four-time NBA champion who won his last ring in his first season with the Los Angeles Lakers. But he opted to leave the team that summer to sign with the Orlando Magic - a stint that would end upon the beginning of his second season with the team as he was waived. And based on the comments made by Magic coach Doc Rivers as well as management, it's safe to say that Grant regretted joining them in the first place. He would return to the Lakers for one more season before calling it a career in 2004.
12 Regretted Playing: Carlos Boozer
Prior to his last season with the Los Angeles Lakers, Carlos Boozer had been among the most respected power forwards of the past decade. A two-time NBA All-Star who played a major role for the Utah Jazz and later on Chicago Bulls - both teams who competed in their respective conferences - Boozer played the wrong hand by joining the Lakers.
The team finished with an awful record of 21-61 while Boozer saw his minutes decrease despite the lack of talent on the roster.
He could have been a useful addition on many contenders, but his last year in the league went to waste.
11 Regretted Leaving: Nick Young
Nick Young is now a free agent who appears to be unlikely to return to the NBA after failing to generate any interest on the open market. Last summer, he joined the Golden State Warriors in hopes of winning a ring, and while his quest was fulfilled by the end of the year - Young wasn't exactly a contributor on the squad as he mostly played in garbage time.
It also happened to be his worst year in the NBA after having had the reign to do whatever he wanted off the Lakers' bench. Young may have won a ring with the Warriors, but that may have cost him a chance to earn another contract in the league.
10 Regretted Playing: Steve Nash
When you have a starting line up of Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant, Ron Artest, Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard - it is no wonder that the newly formed super team was expected to win a championship. The opportunity was too exciting for Nash to turn down as he was hoping to win a ring before calling it a career.
Unfortunately for Nash, his tenure with the Lakers was far from memorable as the team was underwhelming in the regular season and playoffs. He also had multiple nagging injuries that forced him to retire without getting the proper sendoff that he deserved.
9 Regretted Leaving: Earl Clark
In his lone season with the Los Angeles Lakers, Earl Clark managed to have a career year but he opted to leave the team that very summer to join the Cleveland Cavaliers. Since then, he has become a journeymen who eventually had to leave the NBA for a job.
Clark was earning plenty of hype from Lakers fans as he had shown potential to be a very useful player, but he played his cards wrong by turning his back on the team.
Not only was he a good fit for the team, but he appeared to be more confident as a player with the Lakers.
8 Regretted Playing: Chris Kaman
Chris Kaman had been a consistent player who filled the stats sheet for several years, especially during his time with the Los Angeles Clippers. But then he started jumping from one team to another with his production decreasing with every passing year. And while he had been an important player for the Dallas Mavericks for his lone season there, Kaman failed to replicate that same form with the Lakers.
The team had many players in his position at the time - all of whom were given the chance to shine - and that led to a decrease in Kaman's minutes. Needless to say, he left the next summer to join the Portland Trail Blazers for two more years.
7 Regretted Leaving: Trevor Ariza
Trevor Ariza was a crucial member of the Los Angeles Lakers team that won the 2009 NBA championship. He stepped up his game in the Playoffs when the team needed him most, earning him plenty of praise around the league. He was set to be a free agent in the summer - and while Lakers anticipated Ariza to re-sign - he took on a hefty five-year deal with the Houston Rockets. But he would only play one year for the franchise before being shipped out of town as Ariza had failed to meet expectations. Meanwhile, the Lakers went on to win another championship as Ariza watched from home this time around.
6 Regretted Playing: Karl Malone
Karl Malone spent his entire career with the Utah Jazz to establish himself as an all-time great and the second top scorer in NBA history. But in a surprising move, Malone decided to join the Los Angeles Lakers on a quest to capture a championship ring.
While he had remained a useful player, Malone's production saw a major dip compared to previous seasons while the Lakers' year ended in bitter disappointment.
The move may have been worth it if they had gotten the job done, but based on how things turned out, it's easy to see as to why Malone regrets it now.
5 Regretted Leaving: Ed Davis
Throughout his NBA career, Ed Davis has been a solid player who is an efficient rebounder and a tough defender. He only one played one season for the Los Angeles Lakers, which happened to be his best year in the league. During the 2015 offseason, Davis was awaiting the Lakers to approach him for a return but the team was busy recruiting the top free agents at the time. He grew impatient and decided to take his talents elsewhere by signing with the Portland Trail Blazers. The summer after, Davis revealed in an interview that he was hoping to return to the Lakers.
4 Regretted Playing: Glen Rice
Considering that Glen Rice won his one and only championship as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers in 2000, you would think that he would look more fondly on his stint with the team. But there were plenty of troubles brewing behind-the-scenes as Rice had clashed with Phil Jackson a number of times. As the year went by, he grew even more frustrated to the point where he supposedly requested a trade.
The remaining years in Rice's career weren't particularly memorable as he jumped from one team to another, while his former team went on to claim two more championships without his services.
3 Regretted Leaving: Derek Fisher
Derek Fisher was an important member of the Los Angeles Lakers as a role player who knew his role. With the team getting dismantled in the summer of 2004 as Shaquille O'Neal was traded to the Miami Heat, Karl Malone retired and Gary Payton was traded away - Fisher decided to also move on to a new venture by signing with the Golden State Warriors.
He fell short of expectations and was later on sent to the Utah Jazz.
Following a controversial exit from the team, Fisher finally returned to the Lakers for another stint where he added two more championships to his resume.
2 Regretted Playing: Dwight Howard
In 2012, it became apparent that the Orlando Magic and Dwight Howard were heading for a divorce as the Los Angeles Lakers stepped up their chase to acquire his services. The two teams finally reached a deal in a blockbuster but Howard would only suit up for one season for the Lakers, as he decided to sign with the Houston Rockets the following summer.
There were some issues between Howard and Kobe Bryant who didn't exactly get along, making the former's stint a gloomy one to say the least. Since then, Howard has revealed his regret in leaving the Magic which should tell you plenty about his Lakers stint.
1 Regretted Leaving: Shaquille O'Neal
The duo of Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant was one of the best that the NBA had ever seen as they won three championship rings together. But there was always heat between them behind-the-scenes as they weren't on the best of terms, and it became an even bigger issue once the Lakers failed to defeat the Detroit Pistons in the 2004 Finals. The team had to make a decision between keeping one of their stars, but it was apparent that Shaq would leave since he wanted a different situation.
While he did earn a ring with the Miami Heat, the rest of Shaq's years were forgettable and his final years could have been far superior if he had remained a Laker.