5 High-profile players you forgot played for the Los Angeles Lakers

Everyone knows Jerry West, Magic Johnson and Kobe Bryant, but these are the players who the casual fan may have forgotten about, who looking back, seemed out of place in a Lakers jersey.
Timberwolves v Lakers
Timberwolves v Lakers / Stephen Dunn/GettyImages

The Los Angeles Lakers have long been heralded as not only one of the most storied franchises in the NBA, but in all of sports.

Between the 17 championships and the many star players that have come through their locker room over the decades, the Lakers continue to solidify themselves as one of the most successful organizations in NBA history. 

The Lakers have also famously hosted their fair share of big-name free agents over the years, making Los Angeles a desired destination for players dating back to the 1970s.

It started with Wilt Chamberlain, who teamed up with Jerry West to win a championship in 1972. Then came Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who brought championship experience from the Milwaukee Bucks to pair with Magic Johnson to form the infamous Showtime Lakers. 

At the turn of the century Shaquille O’Neal immediately helped Kobe Bryant and the Lakers attain dynasty status once again with a three-peat from 2000-2002. 

Even LeBron James, the then three-time champion who had already cemented himself as one of the greatest to ever suit up in the league during his time with the Cleveland Cavaliers and Miami Heat, chose the Lakers in free agency in 2018 – a decision that paid off in 2020 when the Lakers reached the promised land once again in the NBA bubble. 

In addition to those league-defining players, many others have come through the Lakers’ system over the years who people may not remember bore the purple and gold. So here are five stars you forgot played for the Lakers:

1. Karl Malone

Arguably the best player in Utah Jazz history, Karl Malone, who sits third on the NBA’s all-time scoring list, joined the Lakers for the final year of his career. 

Suiting up for the Lakers as a 40 year-old, Malone put himself in strong contention to win his first championship. He was paired with a 25 year-old Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal, who was coming off three Finals MVPs in four years, and even fellow veterans like Gary Payton, Horace Grant, Rick Fox and Derek Fisher. 

Unfortunately, that cluster of vets and one of the most dominant duos in NBA history in O’Neal and Bryant could not get the job done, falling to the Detroit Pistons 4-1 in the 2004 NBA Finals. After 18 years with the Jazz, Malone’s brief stint with the Lakers during the 2003-04 season came up short, marking one of the NBA’s biggest what-ifs of all time. In his one year with the Lakers, Malone averaged 13.2 points and 8.7 rebounds per game. 

2. Dennis Rodman

Rodman will forever be known as one of the league’s most dominant rebounders and a five-time champion with the Detroit Pistons and Chicago Bulls. Following his first two rings with the Pistons, a stint with the San Antonio Spurs and a three-peat alongside Michael Jordan and the Bulls, Rodman suited up for the Lakers for 23 games in 1999. 

Too bad for Rodman, he was one season too early, missing out on the first championship of an eventual Lakers three-peat that began in 2000. 

Already having played for some of the NBA’s most historic franchises, the Lakers only added to Rodman’s already impressive resume of teams. And while Rodman only averaged 2.1 points per game in his short time with the Lakers, he did continue crashing the boards at a high level, as he averaged 11.2 rebounds per game.  

3. Mitch Richmond

Just like Malone, Mitch Richmond fled to the Lakers for the final year of his Hall-of-Fame career. Richmond had already made his mark on the three previous teams he played for, especially with the Sacramento Kings where he later had his jersey retired.  

If Richmond had joined the Lakers just two seasons earlier, he would have been a part of the Lakers’ three-peat. He did catch the final year of the Lakers’ early-aughts run, however, and got his first and only ring alongside Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant in 2002. 

Richmond is just one of several seasoned veterans who have benefited from being part of the Lakers’ run. He played in 64 games with the Lakers and averaged 4.1 points per game. Richmond only scored three points over the course of the playoff run he was a part of in Los Angeles, but he still added a veteran presence to a somewhat young roster. 

4. Glen Rice

More well-known for his years with the Miami Heat and Charlotte Hornets, Rice played for the Lakers during the 1999-2000 season. And whereas Richmond caught the trail end of the Lakers’ three-peat, Rice was there for the start, winning a championship in his short time with the team. 

Rice was traded to the Lakers in 1999 and caught the final 27 games of the 1998-1999 season with the team. In those 27 games, Rice averaged 17.5 points per game. 

Despite joining the Lakers in the latter half of his career, during that following season when the Lakers won their first of three consecutive championships, Rice averaged 15.9 points per game. Rice was never named a Hall-of-Famer, but like Richmond, picked up that elusive first championship with the purple and gold.

5. Roy Hibbert

It’s difficult to remember much of what actually transpired from a regular season standpoint during the Lakers’ 2015-16 campaign other than Kobe Bryant’s farewell tour, which was capped off with a 60-point performance against the Utah Jazz in the season finale. 

The NBA was also consumed with some other intriguing storylines throughout that season, like the record-setting 73-9 Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers coming back from 3-1 to win the 2016 NBA Finals. 

Well, amidst all the chaos, another player you wouldn’t expect suited up for the Lakers was Roy Hibbert, who had previously spent seven years with the Indiana Pacers. Hibbert and the Pacers had several battles against LeBron James and the Miami Heat in a strong Eastern Conference during the mid-2010s. 

Hibbert was only with the Lakers for a season and in 81 games, averaged 5.9 points and 4.9 rebounds per game. He then shipped off to the Hornets for a season before hanging it up as a Denver Nugget. 

In that lone season, Hibbert provided the Lakers another option in the paint alongside a young Julius Randle.