As Kobe Bryant wraps up his illustrious career, many fans and teams are showing him a level of respect that is well deserved for his magnificent career. Bryant is a five time NBA champion, a two time NBA finals MVP, a league MVP, an 18 time All-Star, and 15 time All-NBA selection.
Kobe’s accolades are seeming endless, and he will most likely go down as one of the ten greatest players to ever play the game of basketball. Despite his accomplishments, and having 20 years of NBA experience, Kobe has played with some players who were “nerfed” after coming to the Lakers. “The Black Mamba” is the type of leader who isn’t afraid to let his teammates know when they are not performing up to his standards, which leads to tension (as well as lower production) on the team.
Kobe self admittedly has made teammates cry on occasion, and in an interview conducted by Jemele Hill, Bryant was quoted as saying:
“I have, I have made somebody cry before. There are certain players I have made cry … there’s one teammate that was just so bad. He was so bad. It wasn’t Kwame [Brown]. Kwame actually wasn’t that bad. I tease Kwame a lot. It wasn’t Smush [Parker]. It was a player you guys won’t even remember if I said what his name was. I can’t even pronounce his name. It was like some European kid. I don’t know. But he was really, really bad. I said, ‘You know, dude, you might want to reconsider what your life purpose is. Maybe it’s not this.’ I was like twenty-something. I don’t know. I was really young.”
Kobe is currently playing on the worst team of his career, and luckily for Bryant, he has mellowed out as he has gotten older; young Kobe would have beaten this group of immature, young teammates he has now. While there are newer players mentioned on this list, there is no shortage of bad players in Kobe’s history, so as we get into it, we have to take into consideration what makes a player worthy of a this dubious distinction. We considered the players’ history, expectations, salary, and overall performance on the court during their time on the Lakers. Keep in mind that a superstar who joined the Kobe past their prime, is fair game on this list.
15. Metta World Peace
Sure, Ron Artest had a good run during the Lakers Championship run during the 2009-10 season, but after an offseason of celebrating Artest came back to the NBA different. Not only had Artest changed his name to Metta World Peace, but he also came to training camp out of shape, and with a lack of motivation. Kobe Bryant probably didn’t appreciate this, as Peace was a key role player in their playoff run, and his actions caused his minutes be reduced dramatically.
14. Travis Knight
Travis Knight joined the Lakers at the same time as Bryant, but Knight was given the unfortunate task of guarding Shaquille O’Neal during practices. Despite having an respectable rookie season, Knight’s limited minutes hindered his development. Maybe that is the reason Knight was only able to average three points and three rebounds during his three seasons in Los Angeles.
13. Robert Sacre
Robert Sacre has started 35 games over the last four seasons with Bryant and the Lakers. He is a seven foot center who has never averaged over four rebounds a game. Sacre’s issues are indicative of the entire league right now, as the game has moved towards a smaller, and faster style of play. Sacre entered the NBA with the hopes of being a solid offensive player, however, over his few seasons as a pro, he has only averaged four points per game.
12. Gary Patyon
Many people would considered Gary Payton one of the best point guards in NBA history, with defense so tight, he was nicknamed “The Glove”. So when Payton along with Karl Malone joined the already stacked Lakers, success seemed for sure for Los Angeles. Though the team would make it to the NBA Finals, something was missing, and they would lose in just five games. Payton, while effective, was not nearly as good as he once was; he dropped significantly in every statistical category, despite playing in all 82 games.
11. Sean Rooks
Rooks joined the Lakers in 1996 along with Kobe Bryant, and he was seen as an athletic big man with a capable jump shot. Standing at 6’10”, you would think that Rooks could grab some rebounds to compliment his offensive game, however, in three seasons with the Lakers he averaged only two rebounds per game. Rooks also couldn’t deliver on his potential, as he averaged just over three points per game in his three seasons with the Lakers.
10. Samaki Walker
Samaki Walker joined the Lakers in 2001 after establishing himself as a solid role player with the Dallas Mavericks and San Antonio Spurs. What seemed like a great fit, quickly soured, as Walker’s production dropped drastically once he moved to Los Angeles. During his short two seasons with the Lakers, he averaged only five points and one assist per game. Luckily for Kobe, the Lakers were stacked anyway and still managed to win a championship in the 2001-02 season.
9. Shammond Williams
Shammond Williams was brought to the Lakers late in his career as a solid backup point guard, and more importantly, as a guy who could help shoulder the scoring load, along with Kobe. Williams was not quite what the Lakers had hoped for, leaving the team less than a year after signing. In his lone season in L.A., Williams averaged only three points and one assist per game. Williams retired after his season with the Lakers.
8. Ryan Kelly
Ryan Kelly was drafted by the Lakers out of Duke in 2013, and had his best season as a rookie. Since his rookie campaign, Kelly has declined in all measurable stats including his points per game total, which went from eight his rookie season, down to just four points a game this season. Perhaps playing behind veteran Carlos Boozer has held back Kelly, but it doesn’t change the fact that his time playing with Kobe was forgettable at best.
7. John Salley
John Salley was a key role player with the “Bad boy” Detroit Pistons of the late 80s, but by the time his career was winding down in 1999, he had joined the Lakers. Salley was not even a shell of his former self by the time he joined Kobe and the Lakers, he was more like a different player altogether. During his only season in L.A. Salley played in 45 games, started only three of them, and averaged only two points and one rebound per game. Salley did however capitalize on earning his fourth NBA Championship with the Lakers at the end of the 2000 season.
6. Mark Madsen
“Mad Dog Madsen” spent three seasons with the Lakers during their run of titles in the early 2000s. Madsen was known for being a scrappy practice player, but sadly for him, he is more well known for his horrible dance moves during victory parades, than he is for his play on the court. In his three seasons with Kobe, Madsen averaged three points and just over three rebounds per game. Luckily for Madsen, he was surrounded with elite talent and racked up two championship rings in Los Angeles.
5. Dwight Howard
Dwight Howard is clearly not the 5th least talented player to ever share the court with Kobe, but when you combine Howard’s potential, his expectations, and his contract, D-12 is one of the worst things that ever happened to Kobe Bryant. Howard only lasted one season with the Lakers, and many believe he chose to leave because he and Bryant could not coexist on the same team. Howard perhaps let his feelings get in the way of what could have been a dominant Lakers franchise.
4. Isaiah Rider
What is it about joining Kobe’s Lakers that just makes a player lose any and all talent that they had before signing? Isaiah Rider was a great player for both the Minnesota Timberwolves and Portland Trailblazers before signing with L.A. Though Rider was awarded with an NBA Championship ring, and led the Lakers in bench scoring that year (averaging 7.6 ppg), all of his statistical categorizes were only one third of what they had been in years past.
3. Karl Malone
“The Mailman”Karl Malone was brought to L.A. along with Gary Payton to help Kobe and Shaq win another NBA Championship. The super team never followed through, and Malone is a key reason why. Malone was 40 years old when he joined the Lakers, and it was clear that his Hall of Fame career was coming to an end. Malone averaged 25 points during his career, but during his time in Los Angeles, Malone only averaged 13 points per game.
2. Steve Nash
Nash was brought to the Lakers along with Dwight Howard in another attempt to recapture the NBA Championship. A two time league MVP, Nash was a shell of himself during his two seasons in L.A., as Nash spent most of the time on the sideline nursing injuries. Of the 164 games Nash was signed to the Lakers, he only played in 65 of them. His contract, combined with the failure to meet expectations really hindered the Lakers and their ability to win.
1. Kwame Brown
Poor Kwame Brown. The high school graduate is considered by many, to be the biggest draft bust in NBA history. Another draft pick of Michael Jordan, Brown bounced around the NBA for 13 seasons, seeing time with seven franchises. Brown spent three years playing with Kobe, and during those years Brown had his best opportunity to shine, as he was given over 26 minutes per game. Despite all of the chances he was given, Brown was unable to prove himself to be a quality player. Brown retired in 2013 with career averages of seven points and five rebounds per game.
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