It was just over a year ago that Kobe Bean Bryant played his final NBA game and went out in a way that only Kobe could pull off: 60 points on 50 shots!! That singular game just added to the iconic games Kobe has played in and it was a microcosm of his entire career. Fearless, hell-bent, and not giving a F--- were trademarks of Kobe in that game and throughout his illustrious career. If only all of his teammates had the same mindset…
When you play 20 seasons in the purple and gold of the Los Angeles Lakers, you are bound to play with some so-so teammates. Actually, so-so would be a compliment to some of the guys Kobe played with. While I understand not everyone can be a Shaquille O’Neal or Karl Malone, some of the guys Kobe called teammates couldn’t carry his jock.
We’ll take a look back at some of those guys, and in reality, we could have expanded this list to 50. Kobe played with 142 different Lakers during his time in LA and one day the franchise is going to look back and say, “Wait, we signed that guy!?” This list takes into account the players while they were Kobe’s teammates and their entire careers. Thus, Hall of Famers like Gary Payton and Mitch Richmond are spared even though they were washed up when they joined the Lakers. Without further ado, here are the top 15 worst Lakers of the Kobe era: Where are they now?
15 Brian Cook
Poor Brian Cook came along about a decade too early. Drafted in 2003, Cook was a stretch-four during a time when the NBA didn’t have a use for stretch-fours. He would much rather hang out on the perimeter and wait for Kobe or Shaq to be double-teamed to stroke a three-pointer rather than banging in the paint. As a result, he was seen as soft and could never hold down a consistent spot in a team’s rotation. Cook played for five different teams but, outside of the Lakers, never played more than 66 games with any team. He then played for pro leagues in Puerto Rico, Lebanon, and Japan.
His basketball career had seemingly come to an end in 2015 until Ice Cube arrived on the scene and created the Big3, the new three-on-three league featuring numerous former NBA players. At 36, he is one of the youngest players in the league and will be playing on a team coached by Charles Oakley.
14 Mark Madsen
Mark “Mad Dog” Madsen was the Lakers first round pick in 2000 and is a two-time NBA champion. He is infamous for his stereotypical dance moves he busted out at the Lakers’ 2001 victory parade, but don’t be mistaken; Mad Dog had an important role on the team. According to Shaq, Madsen would defend him in practices better than anyone Shaq ever played with. In Shaq’s words: “He used to beat me up in practices.” After playing three years in LA, Madsen then took the money and ran to the Minnesota Timberwolves where he played for six seasons before retiring.
Right after playing his last game in 2009, Madsen was hired as an assistant in the D-League. However, since he was waived with still one year left on his contract with Minnesota; Madsen was still collecting NBA checks that likely dwarfed his D-league assistant coach’s salary. Madsen then returned to his alma mater, Stanford, where he served as an assistant for one year. After then rejoining the Lakers’ D-League team as a head coach in 2013; he was then promoted to the main squad and is currently sitting next to Luke Walton as an assistant with the Lakers.
13 Brian Grant
Grant was essentially the 90s-2000s version of Kenneth Faried as he was a rebounding menace he never took a night off. Despite being a solid player, he seemed to always be involved in transactions involving other NBA stars. He was replaced by Chris Webber in Sacramento and by Rasheed Wallace in Portland. He was then later traded for Shawn Kemp and then sent to the Lakers in a deal for Shaq. His lone season in L.A. came in 2004-05 which also happened to be the first year in Kobe’s career that he didn’t make the playoffs.
After retiring in 2006, Grant spent some time training NBA players including Greg Oden while he was a Trail Blazer. However, in 2008 Grant was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease and decided to devote his time to that cause. He started the Brian Grant Foundation which helps to educate people and raise awareness on the disease. He also partnered up with the Parkinson’s foundations for Michael J. Fox and Muhammad Ali to fund research on finding a cure for the disease.
12 Isaiah Rider
Before there was J.R. Smith there was J.R. Rider and both players were high-flying two guards who had a knack for making head-scratching decisions. Rider is one of three winners of the Dunk Contest to be teammates with Kobe with the others being Cedric Ceballos and Dwight Howard. Rider played for three different teams before landing in LA in 2000 where he won an NBA championship in his one season with the Lakers.
During his NBA career Rider was dogged by having a bad attitude but that issue was nothing compared to the drug problems he had after retiring. In 2007 he was sentenced to 7 months in a San Francisco prison for cocaine possession among other charges. He calls that period the lowest point in his life and he has seemingly redeemed himself since then. After his release he started the Sky Rider Foundation which helps underprivileged kids take part in extracurricular activities.
11 Kwame Brown
It’s hard to consider someone who played 12 seasons in the NBA and made nearly $64 million a bust; but when you are hand-picked by Michael Jordan as the first overall pick, the bust label is fitting. Brown is like the JaMarcus Russell of the NBA: in a simple workout or pick-up game, he may look like the best player on the court/field; but when the lights get bright you realize that he can’t play a lick. Brown joined the Lakers after playing for the Wizards for four seasons and in LA he went from a starter to a backup to out of the rotation to traded in the span of 2-and-a-half seasons.
After leaving the Lakers in 2008, Brown would stick around for six seasons and play for five different teams. He last played in the NBA in 2013 but in 2016 he signed with an agent with ambitions of returning to the league at the age of 34. But it was all for naught and Brown couldn’t even draw interest in an overseas league. However, you will soon see Brown on a court again as he will be a part of the new 3-on-3 league, the Big3. Brown will team up with White Chocolate Jason Williams, Rashard Lewis, and others and perhaps this is the basketball environment in which Brown will best excel.
10 Jim Jackson
If you blinked, you might have missed Jimmy Jackson on the Lakers as they were the 12th and final team he played for in his 14-year career. He was signed for the playoff run in the 2005-06 season which ended against the team Jackson had just left, the Phoenix Suns. Despite having a lengthy NBA career, Jackson never truly lived up to his billing as a top-5 draft pick and, perhaps, the most noteworthy thing about his career was being part of a bizarre love triangle with Toni Braxton and Jason Kidd.
Even though Jackson’s stay in L.A. was brief, Kobe must have liked the way he looked in his #24 Lakers jersey as Kobe would switch to that number after Jackson left. Instead of heading overseas to continue his pro career, Jackson instead went into broadcasting and was an analyst for the Big Ten Network. He then moved back to Los Angeles in 2015 and is now an analyst for Fox Sports.
9 Theo Ratliff
Sometimes all you need is one skill to stick around in the NBA for 16 years and Theophalus “Theo” Ratliff’s one skill was shot-blocking. He left the University of Wyoming as the second all-time leading shot blocker in NCAA history and led the NBA in blocks in three seasons. After playing for nine teams, Ratliff signed with the Lakers in 2010 but played just 70 total minutes during the regular season. He then played a single minute in the postseason and decided to retire thereafter.
After retiring, Ratliff became the owner of a team in the World Basketball Association until it folded in 2013. He now runs his foundation, the Theo Ratliff Foundation and just to remind everyone what he did for a living; his Instagram handle is @shotblocker. He still is keeping to his basketball roots as he often helps out with the Jr. NBA and also recently helped out at the 2017 NBA Combine in Chicago.
8 Troy Murphy
A poor man’s Kevin Love, Murphy was a three-point shooting beast on the glass who averaged a double-double in five seasons. He played for some bad teams with the Warriors and Pacers for most of his career so he flew under the radar, but he was always thought of as one of the most underrated players in the league. He didn’t appear in the playoffs until his 10th NBA season with Boston and he would join the Lakers a year later during the lockout-shortened season.
After retiring in 2013 Murphy did something that many ex-players say they will do, but usually don’t end up doing: he returned to school. However, it wasn’t just any school ad Murphy enrolled in Columbia University which isn’t far from his hometown in New Jersey. He made the Dean’s List with a 3.8 GPA and completed his undergraduate degree in 2015.
7 Chris Duhon
As the Louisiana Mr. Basketball in high school and a championship-winning All-American at Duke; Duhon’s pro career was a letdown after his stellar prep career. He was the prototypical backup point guard for much of his NBA career which included stops in Chicago, New York, Orlando, and Los Angeles. Just like the former Magic teammate he was traded to L.A. with, Dwight Howard, Duhon also played just one season with Kobe which also happened to be the last season of his NBA career.
Duhon didn’t have any off-court problems during his playing days but they soon mounted up in retirement. After joining Marshall University as an assistant coach, Duhon was charged with an aggravated DUI when he was found passed out in his car. The school suspended Duhon but apparently that wasn’t a harsh enough penalty as he was arrested for driving on a revoked license in 2017. That was apparently the third time that Duhon had been stopped by police for driving on a revoked license but he did not tell the school. After the arrest, Duhon resigned from his coaching position at Marshall.
6 Smush Parker
Perhaps no teammate felt the wrath of Kobe Bryant more so than Smush Parker. He went from a Summer League standout to the starting point guard of the Lakers from 2005-2007. However, if Kobe had his wish, not only would Parker not have been starting, but he wouldn’t have even been in the NBA! In 2012 Kobe told Steve Nash that the only reason he won MVP was because Parker as the Lakers’ point guard held him back. Kobe: "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."
After leaving the Lakers in 2007, Parker would play just 28 more NBA games before embarking on a career of D-league stints and foreign leagues all over the world. In 2014 he returned to The States to play in the Basketball Tournament in which his team advanced to the semi-finals. After last playing ball in Morocco in 2016, Parker entered his name into consideration for the Big3 but went undrafted. He’ll try to stay in shape with hopes of playing in the second season of the Big3 if there is a second season of the Big3.
5 Aaron McKie
Along with Eric Snow, Aaron McKie was one of Allen Iverson’s running mates with the 76ers during the late 1990s/early 2000s. But before he was a 76er, the Philadelphia-native was one of the top prep players in his hometown which also happens to be where Kobe Bryant grew up. McKie is 6 years older than Kobe so they never crossed paths in high school but Kobe was undoubtedly aware of McKie’s exploits before even reaching the NBA. After playing for the 76ers for eight years, McKie then suited up for just 24 games over two seasons with the Lakers and was more of an assistant coach than a player.
Perhaps the best contribution that McKie gave to the Lakers was being one of the players to even out the contracts in the trade that sent Pau Gasol to Los Angeles. McKie was traded to Memphis but he never played a game for them and was actually serving as an assistant coach on the 76ers at the time of the Gasol trade (LA signed McKie only to trade him). McKie was a Sixers assistant from 2007 to 2013 and was let go when Brett Brown and “The Process” took over. He then stayed in the Philly area by becoming an assistant at his alma mater of Temple and is still in that role today.
4 Lindsey Hunter
The heir apparent to Isiah Thomas in Detroit, Hunter didn’t have quite the career as the Hall of Famer but he did capture two championships just like Thomas did. The first came in the 2001-02 season with the Lakers which was Hunter’s lone season in LA. Hunter was actually the team’s starting point guard for 47 games before ceding his position to Derek Fisher. After playing for Toronto for a year, Hunter then rejoined the Pistons and won his second title in 2004 which game at the expense of Kobe and the Lakers.
Towards the end of his 16-year career, Hunter became infamous for being one of the few players in NBA history to be suspended for PEDs. He says he accidentally took his wife’s diet pill and, as a result, the NBA suspended him for 10 games. After retiring in 2010 Hunter then transitioned to coaching and even was the Suns interim head coach in 2013. He then coached under Mark Jackson on the Warriors for one season and in 2016 was named as an assistant coach at the University of Buffalo.
3 Andrew Goudelock
Kobe, of course, was the “Black Mamba” while the Spurs’ Matt Bonner was the “Red Rocket”; but did you know that one Andrew Goudelock was the “Mini Mamba”? Don’t remember Goudelock? I don’t blame you as he played just 40 games as a rookie in 2011-12. After being cut the following summer, Goudelock then re-signed with the Lakers right after Kobe tore his Achilles’ tendon at the end of the 2012-13 season. He then went overseas before returning to play 8 games with the Rockets in the 2015-16 season.
Goudelock has never been able to stick in the NBA but he’s had lots of success in other leagues both domestically and abroad. He was named the D-League MVP in 2013 and then completed an international trifecta in 2014 by being named MVP in two different Russian Leagues as well as being named the EuroCup MVP. At 28, he could return to the NBA again at some point but with all of the success he’s experiencing overseas; he may not want to return to the NBA.
2 Shammond Williams
Best known for being the starting shooting guard on those UNC teams alongside Vince Carter and Antawn Jamison; Williams also had basketball in his blood as he’s a cousin of Kevin Garnett. He was also an athletic pioneer (through no doing of his own) as he was the first collegiate athlete to ever have a website devoted to him. In the NBA Williams played for 7 teams in 7 years and his stop in LA in the 2006-07 season was his final stint in the league.
After leaving the NBA in 2007, Williams continued his play in foreign leagues ranging from Spain to Cyprus to Italy. Right after finishing his playing career in 2011, Williams became an assistant coach and served on the staffs at Furman and Tulane. In 2016 he was named as an assistant at Western Kentucky under their new coach, Rick Stansbury, who was formerly the head coach of Mississippi State.
1 Javaris Crittenton
Cittenton spent all of 22 games as Kobe’s teammate during the 2007-08 season. He was hand-picked by Phil Jackson as the point guard successor for Derek Fisher but he could never get off the bench. After being traded to Memphis in his rookie year, the new surroundings produced the same results for Crittenton and he was soon shipped to the Wizards. During his time in DC, Crittenton was best known for having a gun standoff with Gilbert Arenas in the locker room. After being suspended for the entire season by David Stern, Crittenton would never play another NBA game.
While many players on this list are still cutting their chops overseas or in the Big3, that won’t be the case for Crittenton as he’ll be in prison until 2038. That’s the result of him shooting and killing a mother of four in Atlanta. The woman was not the intended target but Crittenton was still sentenced to 23 years in prison in 2015. While many players dreamed of playing with the Lakers, that was perhaps the worst thing that could have happened to Crittenton. He reportedly joined the Crips gang when he moved to Los Angeles and that’s where all of his criminal problems started.