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50 Years of Lakers Memories – The Lake Show

2010 March 18

• dEDGE Post Scriptum •

Long before Phil Jackson and his zen arrived on the scene, a former powerhouse was trying to rebuild and rebrand themselves. No longer Team of the Decade and long after any hope of parades in June with the promise of back-to-backs had faded, the Los Angeles Lakers found themselves at a crossroads. Do you cling on to your past greatness, or forget it all and move on? But as the Lakers moved further and further away from the Magic/Kareem/Worthy years, they were forced to annex themselves and

The captain of the Lake Show, Cedric Ceballos.

The captain of the Lake Show, Cedric Ceballos. Copyrights may apply. All rights reserved.

develop an identity that they could call their own. Gone were core members Byron Scott (Indiana, Sacramento), AC Green (Phoenix, Dallas) and Michael Cooper (Pallacanestro Virtus Roma). “Big Game” James retired after the ’93-’94 season when the Randy Pfund/Bill Bertka/Magic Johnson led Lakers finished with a 33-49 record and out of the playoffs for the first time in 18-years. If even the great Magic Johnson could not resuscitate these Lakers, who could? Magic was brought in as interim coach through the urging of owner Jerry Buss, and compiled a 5-11 record capped by a 10-game losing streak to close out the season. Even Magic shook his head in disgust and proclaimed, “What have I gotten myself into?” He promptly quit at the end of the season and restaked his claim as a minority owner of the team.

Nick "the quick" Van Exel was a blur to most opposing teams.

Nick "the quick" Van Exel was a blur to most opposing teams. Copyrights may apply. All rights reserved.

The Lakers hired Del Harris the following season to right their wayward ship. He was a safe choice and one that the front office believed was necessary. Harris was old-school and that fact alone helped convince the Lakers brass that this was what the team needed. On a team spearheaded by former Phoenix Suns forward, Cedric Ceballos, veteran Sedale Threatt and up-and-coming speedy point guard, Nick Van Exel, the Lakers reclaimed past glory by excelling to a 48-34 record and sporting a 15-game turnaround from the previous season. Yugoslavian transplant, Vlade Divac secured the post with his superb passing abilities and the Lakers were loaded with young guns in Eddie Jones, Anthony Peeler and George Lynch. Surrounding out the squad were veterans Elden Campbell, Sam Bowie and perennial fan favorite, Kurt Rambis, in his second stint with the Lakers. The Lakers had the young legs to get out and run, plus the post presence in Divac and Campbell to help them place third in the Pacific Division behind the Phoenix Suns with Charles Barkley, Kevin Johnson and “Thunder” Dan Marjele, and the Seattle Supersonics which featured Gary Payton, Shawn Kemp, Sam Perkins and Detlef Shrempf. The Lakers would meet Seattle in the first round and stun the veteran Sonics, 3-1. Powered behind Van Exel and Ceballos, the Lakers dropped the first game then took the next three contests, handing the Sonics another disappointing first round exit. But the Lakers would stumble in the second round against a familiar foe in the San Antonio Spurs, who featured David Robinson, Sean Elliott and Dennis Rodman. The Spurs would take care of the Lakers rather easily, downing them 4-2 but not before the young team had gained invaluable experience and a mojo to go along with their new success. This led to them anointing themselves as the Lake Show.

Vlade Divac helped open up the middle with his excellent passing skills.

Vlade Divac helped open up the paint with his excellent basketball IQ and passing skills. Copyrights may apply. All rights reserved.

Eddie Jones was a defensive hound and a fan favorite.

Shooting guard Eddie Jones was a defensive hound, a high-flying act and a perennial fan favorite. Copyrights may apply. All rights reserved.

The ’95-’96 season saw them attaining a 53-29 record, good enough for second place behind the rejuvenated 64-18 Sonics. On January 29, 1996, Earvin “Magic” Johnson officially made his long awaited come-back. 50-pounds heavier and 36-years of age, the former leader of Showtime was now a point power forward. In his debut at the Great Western Forum against the Golden State Warriors, Magic delivered a near triple-double amassing 19 points, 10 assists and 8 rebounds. On one memorable play, he faked a pass to the right, got Latrell Sprewell to bite, and simply sauntered in for a lay-up. It was vintage Magic and although his uniform didn’t fit the way we were accustomed, his play was reminiscent of right were he left off. The Lakers were enthused with renewed motivation and momentum and went 29-11 to steamroll into the postseason. But not all was well in Lakerland. There were mumblings amongst the younger players that Magic was stealing the spotlight and their shot

Sedale Threatt provided veteran leadership and stability to the young squad.

Sedale Threatt provided veteran leadership and stability to the young squad. Copyrights may apply. All rights reserved.

opportunities. This innuendo caught Magic totally off-guard and he was left to ponder if he had made the right decision to come back. The NBA was a different era than the one in which he had prospered. It was the “me” generation and players were more concerned with personal stats and endorsements than with “winnin’ time.” It there ever was a generation gap, the ’95-’96 Lakers were a living, breathing abyss. The Lakers would fall in the first round to the Houston Rockets and after the season, Magic officially retired from the NBA for good. The team had fallen well short of its lofty preseason expectations and amid rumors that there would be a huge shake-up in the off-season, the Lake Show prepared for some new arrivals, one in the form of the Most Dominating Ever and the other, a precocious 18-yr. old phenom straight out of Lower Merion High School..

12 Responses leave one →
  1. September 23, 2014

    Spot on with this write-up, I actuallly feel this amazing siite needs a great deal more attention.
    I’ll probably be returning to see more, thanks for the info!

  2. September 23, 2014

    Hi just wanmted to gikve yyou a quick heads up and let you
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  3. December 5, 2011

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  4. April 16, 2011

    What a great story thank you very much for sharing with us.

  5. March 16, 2011

    I believe other website proprietors should take this site as an model, very clean and wonderful user genial design and style .

  6. Planes_Trains_Cowbells permalink
    March 24, 2010

    Ahhh, so this is where Vlade learned how to flop.

  7. steveodesignedge permalink*
    March 23, 2010

    Back then, Nick Van Exel was known for his buzzer beaters, much like Kobe is today. Don’t get me wrong, I am NOT comparing Nick to Kobe, but when he lofted those high-arcing shots to beat the buzzer, then danced his little jiggy, and then started shadow boxing… oh man, it was great fun!

  8. Craig W. permalink
    March 23, 2010

    It’s easy to comment now, with the hindsight of 15 years, but then the entire vibe was different and Del Harris was the right coach for that team. He did what he was brought here to do and, if he stayed a year too long, he at least held the team together until a Phil Jackson was available to be hired. Yeah, I know, Kurt had the team for a few games.

    The early 90′s were a time where we got a glimpse of how most teams feel every year. Those of us who lived through them at least have the memory of what it feels like and we shouldn’t be saying things about small market teams.

  9. young'n permalink
    March 23, 2010

    I dont know about you guys but I still loved this team. three all-stars in Cedric, Eddie, and Nick, with Vlade and Elden holding it down up front. I was born in 87 so that puts me at around 6-9 when I was watching them. I remember being so into this team that I renounced Gary Payton as my favorite player, threw away my Shawn Kemp cards, and mocked Detlef Shrempfs free throws every time he stepped up to the line. LOVED IT thanks for the memories again.

  10. steveodesignedge permalink*
    March 20, 2010

    The Lakers were a difficult team to watch during this period. Fun one moment, glum the next… There was so much internal conflict going on between old school and the new regime. Thank goodness I had my 1995 National Champion UCLA Bruins.

  11. Anonymous permalink
    March 19, 2010

    Enduring Del Harris was bad enough, but Randy Pfund was a disaster from the start.

  12. Lake Show permalink
    March 18, 2010

    Havasu and Cancun. Now that’s a vacation package.

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