The Los Angeles Lakers have perhaps the most history of any team in the NBA and there are currently 11 jerseys hanging in the rafters of the Staples Center, belonging to 10 different players. Kobe Bryant, of course, had both his number 8 and 24 retired by the team.
In most cases, the legend that wore the retired number was the last person to wear that number. No Laker teammate tried wearing 8 after Kobe switched to 24, nobody wore 34 after Shaquille O’Neal was traded to the Miami Heat and nobody touched Magic Johnson‘s 32, mostly because the team retired it in 1992, three months after Magic’s HIV announcement.
That is not always the case, however. There have been some retired numbers that were worn after the player that the number is retired for, and in those cases, the player that followed up the Laker legend didn’t do the number any sort of justice whatsoever.
Here are the three worst Los Angeles Lakers players to follow up a legend’s retired number.
1. Mike Smrek — 52
- Number retired for Jamaal Wilkes
Jamaal Wilkes is a Hall of Fame forward who won three championships with the Los Angeles Lakers in his eight seasons with the team during the early years of the Showtime Era. Wilkes often gets forgotten about with all of the other star power that was on the Lakers in that era and that was evident by how the number 52 was treated after his departure.
It did not take long for someone to wear 52 after Wilkes as Mike Smrek donned the number two seasons after Wilkes was released by the Lakers. Smrek was not the only player to wear 52 after Wilkes, either, as Samaki Walker wore the number during the 2002-2003 season.
It took the Lakers until 2012 to finally retire Wilkes number, which was in conjunction with his induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
So how did Smrek treat the number right after Wilkes did enough to get it retired? He played 35 games for the Lakers, only starting three of them, and averaged 2.8 points and 1.8 rebounds in 6.7 minutes per game.