The Los Angeles Lakers have had the most stars in their roster in the history of the game. I mean, even the top-4 all-time leading scorers list have dressed the purple and gold.
The Lakers are the second-winningest franchise in NBA history. Moreover, they’re the most successful franchise from the post-Bill Russell era and by a huge stretch. Add Hollywood’s lifestyle and shiny lights to the mix and there’s no wonder why superstars have always craved to take their talents to Los Angeles.
However, some players have been far past their primes when they’ve finally made it to the Lakers. So, far from helping their winning cause, they pretty much become a bit of a burden for their books and their locker room. Today, we’re going to let you know about the 10 NBA stars that played for the Lakers after their prime:
10. Wilt Chamberlain (1968-1973)
Saying that Wilt Chamberlain wasn’t in his prime with the Lakers may sound crazy considering the numbers he put up (17.7 points, 19.2 rebounds, 4.3 assists per game) and the fact that he won 1 ring, and 1 Finals MVP. But still, he wasn’t nearly half as dominant as he was during his early days. I mean, he averaged 30.1 points and 22.9 rebounds per game prior to joining the Lakers and led the league in scoring 5 times and 7 times in boards.
Obviously, having a savvier, elder version of Wilt Chamberlain was great for the Lakers anyway, as he continued to build the winning tradition that made them one of the best and most profitable franchises in all major sports and never took his feet off the gas until he retired.
9. Dennis Rodman (1998-1999)
Jerry Krause had serious doubt about Dennis Rodman’s ability to continue to perform at the highest level following the Bulls’ second three-peat, so he didn’t bring him back. Rodman joined the Lakers in the midst of a lockout season for the final passage of that campaign.
He went on to make just 23 appearances with the purple and gold averaging 2.1 points and 11.2 rebounds a game on 28.6 minutes, but he was still released at the end of the season. Rodman later played – briefly – for the Dallas Mavericks before retiring from the NBA.
8. Ron Harper (1999–2001)
Like Horace Grant, Ron Harper also played a big part in the Chicago Bulls’ success. He was one of their prime stoppers during their second three-peat. So, when they released him at the end of the 1999-00 season, he also decided to re-join Phil Jackson.
Harper would go on to win a couple of extra Championships with the purple and gold to take his total to 5 rings. Still, his contributions on the court weren’t that big with the purple and gold, averaging 7.0 and 6.5 points on roughly 24 minutes a night during his two-year stint with the Lakers.
7. Horace Grant (2000–2001), (2003–2004)
Horace Grant thrived with the Chicago Bulls and his defensive contributions helped him amass 3 NBA Championships. He then pursuit glory with the Orlando Magic and Seattle Supersonics before reuniting with Phil Jackson at the Staples Center.
His first stint with the Lakers helped him win his 4th ring. He didn’t post the best numbers (8.5 points and 7.1 rebounds) of his career but played over 31 minutes a night. However, he wasn’t nearly half as good when he came back in 2004 for the final year of his career.
6. Mitch Richmond (2001-02)
Mitch Richmond was one of the deadliest, most versatile and prolific scorers in the NBA during his prime. He was a perennial 20+ scorer that could torch opposing defenses and put on a show any given night with his smooth shot from beyond the arc.
So hopes were high when he joined the Lakers in 2001, as he was coming off scoring 16.2 points per game with the Wizards the prior campaign. However, he ended up making just 2 starts and averaging 4 points with the Lakers. He won a Championship and retired at the end of the season.
5. Gary Payton (2003-04)
Gary Payton was one of those legendary hoopers that haven’t won an NBA Championship during his prime because of Michael Jordan. So, after the Sonics traded him to the Bucks, he went on to join Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe Bryant, and Karl Malone on the Lakers to make another run at a ring.
Payton was still a solid two-way player but nowhere near the hound and suffocating defender he was on his prime. He averaged 14.6 points, 4.2 rebounds, 5.5 assists, and 1.2 steals per game but the Pistons still upset the Lakers in the Finals.
4. Karl Malone (2003-04)
Karl Malone spent 18 years with the Utah Jazz and led them to 2 NBA Finals but, you know, Michael Jordan happened. So, with retirement around the corner, The Mailman decided to join the Lakers to create the infamous ‘Fab Four’ and leave the game as a Champion. Malone was coming off averaging 25.4 points per game and 36,374 career points with the Jazz.
However, Malone could only play 42 games that season due to a knee injury. He returned in time for the playoffs but as you may know by now, the Detroit Pistons pulled off one of the greatest upsets in the history of the game and beat the Lakers in five games.
3. Antawn Jamison (2012-13)
Antawn Jamison was a problem during his prime. He could flat out ball and score from all over the court with ease but his defense was also a great part of his game. So, like many veterans, he decided to join a contender to pursue a ring before retiring.
Jamison went from scoring in double figures with the Cleveland Cavaliers to scoring roughly 9.4 points per game off the bench for the Lakers. He then joined the Los Angeles Clippers to play the final year of his career and most Lakers fans won’t even remember he was a part of their team.
2. Steve Nash (2012-15)
Steve Nash is one of the greatest point guards ever so after the Lakers couldn’t land Chris Paul, wrapping their hands around him was almost as good. That was assuming he was healthy, which was the biggest issue with him throughout his entire tenure with the Lakers.
Nash ended up playing just 65 games for the team (15 on his second season) before being forced to retire due to injuries. He averaged 12.7 points in his first season and 6.8 in his final year in the league and, sadly, didn’t win an NBA Championship before calling it a career.
1. Dwight Howard (2012-13), (2019-present)
People forgot how good Dwight Howard was in Orlando. I mean, he led the Magic to the Finals at 23 years old and stopped LeBron James from matching up with Kobe Bryant in the Finals. That’s how good he was, and that’s why the Lakers were so high on landing him.
But after a subpar first year with the team, Howard left as a free agent and bounced around the league for some time. He’s now trying to get back to his former shape by coming off the bench for the Lakers as he knows that’ll be his last chance to win a ring. He’s looking for redemption and has worked his heart off in the defensive end.