17 People who turned their backs on the Los Angeles Lakers

These former Lakers did not leave on the best terms.

Los Angeles Lakers, Dwight Howard
Los Angeles Lakers, Dwight Howard / Harry How/GettyImages
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6. Mike Dunleavy Sr.

The Lakers hired Dunleavy Sr. to replace Pat Riley as their head coach in 1990. The new boss was just 36 years old and fresh off an 11-year NBA career. He led LA to a 58-24 record in year one and a trip to the NBA Finals where they lost to Michael Jordan and the Bulls. Things quickly went off the rails in year two.

Magic Johnson abruptly retired after his HIV diagnosis, and the Lakers sputtered to a 43-39 finish and a first-round playoff exit at the hands of the Blazers. It was the franchise’s worst record since 1976, and Dunleavy quit to join the Milwaukee Bucks following the year. They offered him an eight-year contract and decision-making control. It was just too good to pass up.

The Lakers believed they had the next great coach in Mike Dunleavy Sr., but he left before becoming a star. He played for the Bucks and was an assistant coach in Milwaukee. His time as their head coach did not go as planned, but he spent 17 seasons in the gig with four different franchises. Dunleavy Sr. made just five playoff appearances after leaving LA and never advanced beyond the conference finals.

Mike Dunleavy Sr. turned his back on the Los Angeles Lakers during a period of turmoil. They could not just replace Magic Johnson, so the young coach bolted for security in Milwaukee. If he would have given the Lakers time, his coaching career likely would have been a lot more successful.