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Who’s been the most successful player after leaving the Lakers?

Jul 8, 2013, 9:03 AM EDT

Dwight Howard Shaquille O'Neal Getty Images

When Shaquille O’Neal signed with the Lakers, Jerry West took him to the Staples Center Forum and showed him the retired jerseys hanging from the rafters – including those of Wilt Chamberlain, Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Elgin Baylor and West himself.

Great players tend to find there way onto the Lakers, not out of Los Angeles.

Dwight Howard obviously bucked that trend, but his legacy will now hinge of if he can accomplish anything after leaving the Lakers. There will be plenty of time for Howard to prove himself, but for now, who has had the most success after leaving the Lakers?

Honorable mention: Dick Barnett, Bob Boozer, Caron Butler, Archie Clark, James Edwards, Eddie Jones, Brian Winters

3. Clyde Lovellette

The Minneapolis Lakers drafted Lovellette in 1952 and then waited out Lovelette’s amateur/Olympic career and his time working and playing for Phillips Oil Company in Oklahoma. Lovellette played behind George Mikan as a rookie, and after Mikan retired, Lovellette became the Lakers’ top player. In the next three years, Lovellette averaged 20 points and 13 rebounds per game and made two All-Star games.

But Lakers coach John Kundla said his team couldn’t win with Lovellette and traded him to the Cincinnati Royals.

Lovellette had three more 20-10 seasons with Cincinnati and St. Louis and made two more All-Star games. He closed his career with the Celtics, winning titles in both his years with Boston.

2. Shaquille O’Neal

A feud with Kobe Bryant forcing his ouster, Shaq was traded in 2004 to Miami, where it seemed like a young Heat player named Dwyane Wade might become good enough, with the right pieces surrounding them, to help Shaq win a title.

It turned out – even though Shaq was twice named first-team All-NBA with the Heat – Wade was good enough to lead Shaq to a title. There’s no sin in being No. 2 on a championship team, and Shaq still got the first laugh against Kobe after their breakup by winning it all in 2006 (though, Kobe obviously had the last couple laughs), but Shaq was clearly no longer the league’s most dominant player after leaving Los Angeles.

Shaq spent a few years as strange fits with the Suns, Cavaliers and Celtics as his body gradually gave out, but if expectations hadn’t been raised so high by his Laker greatness, he was still pretty good in those final stops.

1. Adrian Dantley

Dantley came into the NBA with quite a pedigree. He played at distinguished DeMatha High School and then at the even-more-distinguished University of Notre Dame, was pick No. 6 overall in the 1976 draft and won Rookie of the Year. But he bounced around the league early in his career, including a season and a half with the Lakers.

Those Lakers also had Jamaal Wilkes, and, deeming the two forwards redundant, they traded Dantley for Spencer Haywood of the Jazz.

Dantley spent seven seasons in Utah, where he twice led the league in scoring, made two All-NBA second teams and was a six-time All-Star. He also thrived for the Detroit Pistons, who traded him during their first championship season for Isiah Thomas’ childhood friend, Mark Aguirre. Dantley hung around a little longer, playing for the Dallas Mavericks and Milwaukee Bucks, but he never won a championship.

Whenever all-time lists are compiled, Dantley is usually underrated. He was a brilliant offensive player in his time thanks to an awesome array of post moves. Dantley ranks in the top 25 in NBA history for points – one spot ahead of Laker great Elgin Baylor, incidentally – and 81 percent of his scoring came after he left the Lakers.

  1. zacksdad - Jul 8, 2013 at 10:40 AM

    But all your 3 players mentioned left when the Lakers traded them. Howard was wanted by the Lakers and left them for less money.

  2. chargerdillon - Jul 8, 2013 at 10:50 AM

    Uh????? Robert Horry ever heard of him?

    He went on to win 2 more championships past his career with the Lakers. He only won 7 championships in his career. Kinda hard to believe he didn’t make this poorly crafted list.

    Mr. Feldman there are some Lakers fans who clearly know their teams history better than you can do research on the matter.

    • sportsfan18 - Jul 8, 2013 at 4:07 PM

      It has to do far more than simply winning titles.

      Robert Horry average 7 pts a game in his career.

      His career PER is 13.4 (all star level is 20.0 and higher, league average is a PER of 15).

      Robert’s career FG% is only .425%, which isn’t good. His 3 pt career average is .341 which isn’t terrible but it isn’t good either.

      He only generated 66.3 win shares in 16 seasons.

      Also, he only played 5 seasons after leaving the Lakers and this article was about who did the best AFTER leaving the Lakers.

      The last 5 yrs of his career he was 33 yrs old to 37 yrs old and while he did OK, he didn’t play long enough AFTER leaving the Lakers or rack up enough numbers to be considered as one who did the best AFTER leaving the Lakers.

      • loungefly74 - Jul 8, 2013 at 11:00 PM

        bam! please have progress2011 read this post…

      • txnative61 - Jul 9, 2013 at 2:12 AM

        Maybe it has to do far more than just adding up and averaging career numbers. The numbers that count to many of us are championships, of which Horry totals 7. And if he didn’t shoot well in the first quarter of the first game of the season, he certainly made huge contributions in the finals for both the Lakers (5) and Spurs (2). So Shaq won 1 after the Lakers, and had a great career? I think the list should be longer, and give more weight to championship numbers and “clutch” shooting. When it really mattered, “Big Shot Bob” came through better than anybody!

      • sportsfan18 - Jul 9, 2013 at 5:14 PM


        Sir, the article was about which Lakers did the best AFTER leaving the Lakers. Horry did NOT win 7 titles AFTER leaving the article.

        Per the article we were commenting about, it was to discuss which Lakers did best AFTER leaving the Lakers.

        NONE of his contributions in the finals with the Lakers apply in this context because they didn’t come AFTER he left the Lakers.

        Did Big Shot Bob come through better than all other Lakers AFTER they left the Lakers? That is what was being talked about and discussed in this article.

        The three men the author mentioned quite clearly all did much better in their time playing ball after leaving the Lakers than Horry did.

        That is what this is about, not his 7 titles (which all didn’t occur after he left the Lakers), not his contributions to the Lakers in the finals he played with them because well, they didn’t happen AFTER he left the Lakers.

      • txnative61 - Jul 10, 2013 at 1:53 AM

        Jeez Sportsfan18—-could you repeat AFTER a few more times, you seem sure I’m so dense I missed it. Try this—–TWO TITLES AFTER. More than two of the three players mentioned. I’m not saying Horry was anything but a role player, but he was great in his role as the go to guy at critical times for the Spurs, and helped put them over the top. They needed him this year in fact. Also note I mentioned the list should be longer and recognize that greatness is a subjective measure. Personally I don’t consider Shaq’s “after” career that great, and many people had “great” careers without winning a title. But why not acknowledge that its great to have somebody you can count on when you need them the most.

      • sportsfan18 - Jul 11, 2013 at 1:13 AM


        You don’t consider Shaq’s 7 seasons after leaving the Lakers great? I’m not a Shaq fan or an LA fan but here is some of what Shaq did after leaving the Lakers.

        Shaq played 7 seasons after leaving the Lakers. In two of them, he led the league in FG%.

        He had a PER of 27 his first season after leaving the Lakers. There are only two players in the entire NBA history to have an average of 27 or higher for a career. Shaq just missed this. I know I’m only talking about one season and not his career, but he played great the first year after leaving the Lakers.

        Then his PER was (after the 27.0), 24.4, 21.7, 17.1, 22.3, 17.9 and 17.4

        OK, you don’t have to consider his season’s great after leaving the Lakers, but it may be argued that no one else who ever left the Lakers did as well after leaving.

        The article wasn’t about whether any ex Laker was great after leaving the Lakers, it was about those who did the best after leaving the Lakers.

        You said the list should be longer. Fine, make it 30 players I don’t care as Horry still wouldn’t be in the top 3 regardless of who one slices it.

        That is what the article was about.

  3. kso1234 - Jul 8, 2013 at 10:54 AM

    How? Staples wasn’t opened until 1999. Almost 3 years after Shaq signed there.

    • asimonetti88 - Jul 8, 2013 at 12:05 PM

      I believe he meant to say the Forum.

  4. deeballer - Jul 8, 2013 at 10:58 AM

    Robert “Big Shot Bob” Horry

    • anhdazman - Jul 8, 2013 at 12:07 PM

      Good call deeballer, leaving Horry out is a travesty!

      • deeballer - Jul 8, 2013 at 1:08 PM

        Crazy right? All those rings he helped San Antonio win and he doesn’t even get a mention.

    • sikologik - Jul 8, 2013 at 12:41 PM

      Horry was the only guy who even came to mind when I read the headline. The championship trophy seemed to follow him wherever he chose to go.

    • 00maltliquor - Jul 8, 2013 at 2:10 PM

      Was thinking the same thing. I didn’t even read the story after scrolling down the list and didn’t see his name.

    • sportsfan18 - Jul 8, 2013 at 4:28 PM


      Horry only played 5 yrs AFTER leaving the Lakers and he was 33 to 37 during those years.

      His numbers weren’t earth shattering either during those years and neither were his career numbers…

      Career 7 pt scoring average. Career PER of 13.4 (all star is 20 and up, NBA average player is a 15 PER), only a .425% career shooting percentage.

      So, if in only 5 NBA seasons, his age 33 to 37 yrs with pedestrian numbers at best, he’s one of the top 3 Laker players to do the best AFTER leaving the Laker’s?

      No one may argue Dantley, 81% of his scoring AFTER leaving the Lakers, all star etc…

      No one may argue Shaq as being one of the best Lakers who played well AFTER leaving the Lakers.

      Shaq played 8 seasons after leaving the Lakers. In two of them, he led the league in FG%.

      He had a PER of 27 his first season after leaving the Lakers. There are only two players in the entire NBA history to have an average of 27 or higher for a career. Shaq just missed this. I know I’m only talking about one season and not his career, but he played great the first year after leaving the Lakers.

      Then his PER was (after the 27.0), 24.4, 21.7, 17.1, 22.3, 17.9 and 17.4

      The other player mentioned in the article had three seasons of 20 – 10 AFTER leaving the Lakers plus all star selections and won 2 titles AFTER leaving the Lakers just like Horry won 2 titles AFTER leaving the Lakers. But Horry didn’t have three seasons of 20 – 10 or multiple all star selections…

  5. caeser12 - Jul 8, 2013 at 11:23 AM

    “I want to start my own path and I want people to follow my path and not just follow somebody else’s path. I want to have my own path, and I want to start that here in Orlando, I mean Brooklyn, No Orlando, LA, No Dallas, Golden State, I meant Houston.”

  6. christdp443 - Jul 8, 2013 at 11:36 AM

    No love for Vlade Divac?

    • txnative61 - Jul 9, 2013 at 2:25 AM

      Yeah, he played Shaq even up to win that one championship—–wait, I forget, everybody knows they won except the NBA——never mind. The NBA’s Rodney Dangerfield no doubt!

  7. hojo20 - Jul 8, 2013 at 11:44 AM

    I enjoyed this post because it was about NBA history. Nice work.

  8. asimonetti88 - Jul 8, 2013 at 12:33 PM

    Chris Paul has been pretty successful after his stint with the Lakers.

  9. turdfurgerson68 - Jul 8, 2013 at 2:04 PM

    Horry was $ in the playoffs no doubt, but Junior Bridgeman was super dope…and a better player than Horry could ever be.

    At least Junior lived up to the enormous expectations of being traded for someone named Kareem.

  10. toosano - Jul 8, 2013 at 9:39 PM

    Did anybody even edit this article?

  11. fpxmnr - Jul 8, 2013 at 10:21 PM

    Don Nelson waived by the Laker’s played for the Celtics for 11 Years, Champions (1966, 1968, 1969, 1974 and 1976).

  12. buzzookaman - Jul 9, 2013 at 1:54 AM

    Dwight Howard was overheard saying as he left town Koby how’s my ass taste???

  13. 1historian - Jul 9, 2013 at 10:38 AM

    Slow news day.

    There’s nothing here folks, just move on please.

  14. Eternal Optimist - Jul 9, 2013 at 4:57 PM

    Sometimes it’s great to be old. I loved watching Dantley post up everybody. He always managed to get a shot off or get fouled. He was too small and too slow and he still poured in the points. I guess his lack of anything remotely close to defense made him a liability, but he, Bob McAdoo and Bernard King flourished in spite of the “el toro” defense that they played.

  15. trollaikman8 - Jul 11, 2013 at 12:50 AM

    Um, hello, Adam Morrison has been lighting up the Summer League.

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