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DocDrew’s Swish Issue 11, Volume 5

Welcome to the eleventh issue of volume five of Swish, a weekly periodical with recaps and photos of Santa Monica YMCA youth basketball games, and other pertinent info such as announcements and updates from the program.

Our Fall season has concluded.  Congratulations to the following Championship teams:




Majors-Commodores and Spinners

We finished the last weekend of the season with exciting All-Star games and awards banquets.  The list of award winners will be below, and congratulations to all award winners, and to all those that participated in the Fall youth basketball season as a player, coach, or referee.  The Santa Monica YMCA truly thanks you for helping to keep the program strong.

We are filled up for the Winter 2020 youth basketball season at the Santa Monica YMCA.  Stay tuned to upcoming Swish periodicals for the announcement of when the registration will be open to the public for the Spring 2020 youth basketball season at the Santa Monica YMCA.

In honor of having the Los Angeles Lakers Youth Foundation partnering with the Santa Monica YMCA youth basketball program beginning with the Winter 2020 season, I have a series of articles about the history of the Los Angeles Lakers in the Swish.  I now present the fifth and final part of the series.

History of the Los Angeles Lakers

1996–2016: The Kobe Bryant era

1996–2004: O’Neal and Bryant dynasty

Shaquille O’Neal (left), and Kobe Bryant (right), helped the Lakers win three straight NBA titles. Though they played well together on the court, the pair had an acrimonious relationship at times in the locker room.

During the 1996 off-season, the Lakers acquired 17-year-old Kobe Bryant from the Charlotte Hornets for Vlade Divac; Bryant was drafted 13th overall out of Lower Merion High School in Ardmore, Pennsylvania in that year’s draft, by Charlotte. Los Angeles also signed free-agent and former Magic Center Shaquille O’Neal.  Trading for Bryant was West’s idea, and he was influential in the team’s signing of the all-star center. “Jerry West is the reason I came to the Lakers”, O’Neal later said. They used their 24th pick in the draft to select Derek Fisher. During the 1996–97 season, the team traded Cedric Ceballos to Phoenix for Robert Horry.  O’Neal led the team to a 56–26 record, their best effort since 1990–91, despite missing 31 games due to a knee injury. O’Neal averaged 26.2 ppg and 12.5 rpg and finished third in the league in blocked shots (2.88 bpg) in 51 games. The Lakers defeated the Portland Trail Blazers in the first round of the 1997 NBA Playoffs. O’Neal scored 46 points in Game 1 against the Trail Blazers, marking the highest single-game playoff scoring output by a Laker since Jerry West scored 53 against the Celtics in 1969.  Despite a NBA-record 7-for-7 three-point shooting performance from Horry in game 2, the Lakers lost the next round four games to one to the Utah Jazz.

In the following 1997–98 season, the Lakers were the only team without a player over the age of 30 and were joined by Rick Fox from the Boston Celtics. They started off with the best start in franchise history, 11–0. Los Angeles battled Seattle for the Pacific Division title most of the season. In the final two months, the Lakers won 22 of their final 25 games, finishing 61–21, and passing Seattle in the standings. O’Neal – although missing 20 games due to an abdominal injur] – was dominant, finishing only second to Michael Jordan in scoring, and leading the league in field-goal percentage (.584). The Lakers defeated Portland three games to one in the first-round of the play-offs. The following round, Seattle took a one-game lead, with the Lakers responding with four straight wins, taking the series. They were swept again by the Jazz in the Conference Finals.

During the lockout-shortened 1998–99 season, All-Star guard Eddie Jones and center Elden Campbell were traded to the Charlotte Hornets to acquire Glen Rice.[23] Nick Van Exel was traded to the Denver Nuggets, and the flamboyant Dennis Rodman joined the team, though he was cut after just 23 games.The team also acquired J. R. Reid, and B. J. Armstrong.  Harris was fired in February after a three-game losing streak and replaced on an interim basis by former Laker Kurt Rambis. The team finished 31–19 in the shortened season, which was fourth in the Western Conference. Los Angeles defeated Houston 3–1 in the first round of the playoffs, but were swept by San Antonio in the next round with game 4 being the last game ever played at the Great Western Forum.

The Lakers at the White House following their 2001 NBA championship

The 1999–2000 season brought upon four huge changes: a new home floor at Staples Center (which they share with the city rival Los Angeles Clippers), newer, more modern jerseys replacing the ones worn by the Lakers since the late 70’s, a new coach in Phil Jackson, and a new system: the triangle offense. The new philosophy proved to be potent, as the Lakers started off strong, winning 31 of their first 36 games. They also were able to string together winning streaks of 16, 19, and 11 games, becoming only the third team in NBA history to have three double-digit streaks in one season.

Despite topping the league with a 67–15 record in the regular season, the Lakers found themselves struggling in the playoffs, needing all five games to knock off the Sacramento Kings and coming back from 15 points down in the fourth quarter of Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals against Portland. The Indiana Pacers, coached by the Lakers’ old nemesis, Larry Bird, proved to be slightly less of a problem, however, and in six games, the Lakers claimed their first NBA championship since 1988. Shaquille O’Neal picked up both MVP and Finals MVP awards in 2000. Having also shared the 2000 All-Star Game MVP award, he was only the third player in NBA history to win all three awards in the same season. Kobe Bryant was named to the NBA All-Defensive Team, the youngest player to earn the honor. Bryant had blossomed under Coach Jackson, as had Lakers role players such as Derek Fisher, Rick Fox and Robert Horry.

Phil Jackson coached the Lakers to five championships, all with Kobe Bryant, three with Shaquille O’Neal and two with Pau Gasol.

The Lakers certainly looked the favorite to repeat the following year, but they had a tougher time of it, accumulating 16 losses by the All-Star break, one more than they had had the entire season before. Nevertheless, they pulled together and were able to edge Sacramento for the division title. Then the team went on a tear, sweeping the first three playoff series. The Lakers-Spurs series in the conference finals was the most lopsided conference finals series in NBA History, with the Lakers winning by an average of 22 points per game. The Lakers lost the first game of the NBA Finals to Philadelphia, but that only proved to be a temporary blip, as they swept the next four games to claim their second consecutive championship. O’Neal collected his second Finals MVP and Derek Fisher set a playoff record with 15 three-pointers in the series against San Antonio. The Lakers concluded the 2001 playoffs with a staggering 15–1 record, the best single season playoff record in NBA history.

The Lakers with President Barack Obama following their 2010 NBA championship

Would a third consecutive championship be possible? The Lakers certainly thought so, and they started strongly in the 2001–2002 season, winning 16 of their first 17, but an arthritic toe hobbled O’Neal for much of the season and the Lakers lost the division crown to the Sacramento Kings. Thus began a memorable post-season for Robert Horry, who sealed the first series against Portland with a game-winning three-pointer, enabling the Lakers to sweep. The Lakers followed with a 4–1 defeat of San Antonio in the second round. In the Western Conference Finals, the Lakers faced the immensely talented Sacramento Kings, a team many believed was ready to finally make it over the hump and get to the NBA Finals. The series, which will most likely go down as one of the most exciting Conference Finals in NBA history, was neck and neck throughout. The Kings were only seconds away from taking a commanding 3–1 series lead in Game 4 in Los Angeles before a 3-pointer at the buzzer by Robert Horry saved the Lakers, tied the series at 2–2, and enabled the Lakers to push the series to a seventh and deciding game in Sacramento. Game 7 proved to be as dramatic as the previous games in the series, with the Lakers eventually defeating the Kings in overtime and advancing to the NBA Finals.[citation needed

The championship series against the New Jersey Nets was a mere formality, as the Lakers swept all four games in one of the most lopsided NBA Finals ever. By securing their third straight NBA Championship, the Lakers of 2000–2002 earned their place in NBA history. O’Neal won his third consecutive Finals MVP award joining only Michael Jordan as players to have achieved such honors, and Jackson won his ninth championship as a head coach, tying Celtics legend Red Auerbach, while surpassing Pat Riley as the coach with the most playoff victories.

Kobe Bryant won two Finals MVP trophies with the Lakers in 2009 and 2010.

The Laker juggernaut seemed unstoppable, and a fourth consecutive championship was in their sights. However, they started off poorly, with Shaquille O’Neal missing the first 12 games while recovering from toe surgery, and then taking time to get into game shape. At Christmas, the team was 11–19, but then Kobe Bryant turned in the best sustained performance of his career, setting NBA records for youngest player to reach 10,000 points, most three-pointers in a game (12), most three-pointers in a half (8), and most consecutive three-pointers in a game (9). Additionally, he set a team record for most points in a half (42), scored 40+ points in 9 consecutive games (joining Chamberlain and Jordan), scored 35+ points in 13 consecutive games (trailing only Chamberlain), became the third player to average 40 points in a month, and became the first Laker to record a triple-double in consecutive games since Magic Johnson in 1991.

The Lakers finished the season with a 50–32 record, their 27th 50+ victory season since moving to Los Angeles. In the playoffs, the pivotal moment was a familiar one. With the series tied at two games apiece, the Lakers were already missing one of their tri-captains in Rick Fox, who had torn a ligament in his left foot during the Minnesota series. San Antonio led by as many as 25 points in the game before the Lakers’ poise and confidence once again emerged down the stretch. Down 18 in the final period, Los Angeles dug deep and rallied, leaving themselves a two-point deficit with a mere 14.7 ticks left on the clock. The game would come down to a familiar hero in a familiar situation. Following the inbounds pass and with 3.6 seconds remaining in the game, Robert Horry let fly the potential game-winning three-pointer – only this time the Lakers saw the ball go in, then inexplicably rim out. A shot that had always fallen in the past would not this time around.

Rather than rejoicing in another last-second victory that would have given them a 3–2 series lead and a chance to finish the Spurs off back home in Los Angeles, the Lakers instead faced the dejection of having been so close, but now facing a 3–2 deficit and now being on the brink of elimination. The Spurs did not waste their chance to finish off the Lakers. They swarmed the Lakers in Game 6 and put an end to the Lakers’ dreams of a fourth consecutive NBA championship

Determined to reclaim the title in Dr. Buss’ 25th year of ownership, the Lakers brought in free agents Karl Malone and Gary Payton, and started the 2003–04 season with a bang, winning 20 of their first 25 games, during which time Malone became the oldest player to record a triple-double. But then Malone went down with a knee injury, and other ailments to Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant soon followed, leaving Payton to lead the younger players in an offensive system with which he was not particularly familiar. Additionally the team faced the ongoing distraction of Bryant’s sexual assault case and the sniping between O’Neal and Bryant which had ensued after Bryant was charged.

Still, the team managed to keep things together long enough for everyone to recover, closing the season in style with 14 victories in 17 games, and a Pacific Division title thanks to Bryant’s two buzzer-beating three-pointers against Portland: one to tie the game at the end of regulation, and the second to win it in double-overtime. Without Horry in the playoffs, it was up to Fisher to save the team with a game-winning buzzer-beater. Again the Lakers were down 0–2 to San Antonio (at this time, the defending champions) in the semifinals. Again they were able to tie the series two games a piece at home. Again they were down as Game 5 drew to a close. Fisher’s miraculous basket, coming off of an inbounds play that began with just 0.4 seconds left in the game, would achieve acclaim as one of the NBA’s most amazing playoff moments. This time, the Lakers returned home for Game 6 indeed relishing the joy of their improbable win, and they took advantage of their chance to finish off the Spurs, taking the game to advance to the Western Conference Finals.

After storming through the number one seed Minnesota Timberwolves in the Western Conference Finals, the Lakers were expected to run roughshod over their NBA Finals opponents, the Detroit Pistons. But it wound up being the other way around, with the Pistons winning the series easily in five games, playing a team-oriented game featuring a particularly stingy defense.

2004–2007: The franchise player – Kobe’s scoring years

The following summer after the 2003–04 season, the Lakers imploded. Jackson was burned out, and the Lakers’ management was unwilling to raise his salary from $6 million a year to $12 million that he wanted to continue. Also, assistant coach Tex Winter said Jackson announced at the 2004 All-Star break that he would not want to return to the Lakers if Bryant returned.  The long-simmering tensions between Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant finally came to a head. When Jackson was not retained as coach (a move many believed to have been orchestrated by Bryant), O’Neal demanded a trade and it was granted; he went to the Miami Heat in return for Lamar Odom, Caron Butler, and Brian Grant. Bryant tested the free-agent market, apparently coming very close to signing with the Los Angeles Clippers before deciding to stay with the Lakers. Jackson retired to his ranch in Montana and Rudy Tomjanovich came in as the new head coach.

Gary Payton was dealt to Boston and Karl Malone retired after undergoing knee surgery, but not before the possibility of his return was eliminated when he and Bryant had a falling-out. Despite all of the offseason movement, the Lakers did manage a 24–19 start at the beginning of the 2004–05 season, but it was at this time Tomjanovich left the team for health concerns. The Lakers struggled without Tomjanovich, but were still able to manage a 32–29 record and were in position to make the playoffs. However, the Lakers were not able to overcome late season injuries to Bryant and Odom, and went on to lose 19 of their last 21 games, finishing with a record of 34–48.

Despite all of this, Bryant continued to set records, including becoming the youngest player to reach 14,000 points, and setting a franchise record with 43 consecutive made free throws. The team also made 100% of their free throws three times, the first time since 1991–92. But all of that amounted to little, as the Lakers ended the season below .500 and missed the playoffs.

The 2005–06 season would see the Lakers reunite with Phil Jackson. Jackson’s year off, including vacationing in Australia, left him rejuvenated, whereas the Lakers’ struggle in 2004–05 caused Jerry Buss to reconsider his willingness to meet Jackson’s salary demands. Although many have felt Kobe Bryant desired Jackson’s departure in the first place, and though Jackson was subsequently critical of Bryant publicly, Bryant indicated that he welcomed Jackson’s return, and the move left fans very optimistic about the Lakers season. Indeed, no public disagreements between the two surfaced throughout their first season reunited, and the player-coach relationship appeared to remain solid.

In the off-season, the Lakers’ most significant player personnel moves had been acquiring Kwame Brown from Washington in exchange for Caron Butler and Chucky Atkins, and drafting center Andrew Bynum straight from high school.

After the previous seasons’s poor showing, most felt that simply making the playoffs would be an accomplishment. The new Laker team seemed somewhat modeled after Jackson’s 1990s Chicago Bulls dynasty which had garnered 6 championships. Lamar Odom, a gifted facilitator forward, was also seen by some to be a “Scottie Pippen” type of player to complement Kobe Bryant’s talents.

After a shaky start, the team’s chemistry appeared to improve dramatically during the latter half of the season. The Lakers managed to put forth more consistent efforts as the regular season drew to a close. The team’s late season surge was enough to secure a playoff berth and allay some of their fans’ immediate concerns about the team. They played the second seeded Phoenix Suns, and after Bryant hit two clutch shots to win Game 4 at Los Angeles, they appeared to be en route to an upset with a 3–1 series lead, which would set up a “Hallway Series” in the second round against the Los Angeles Clippers, who had already advanced by ousting the Denver Nuggets. However, Phoenix, led by 2006 MVP Steve Nash, was able to rally. They would win at home 114–97 in Game 5, win at Los Angeles 126–118 in overtime of Game 6 (almost losing in regulation), and blow out in Game 7 121–90 at Phoenix.

The Lakers trailed 60–45 at halftime of Game 7. Bryant had 23 points at halftime but would score only one point on three shots in the second half. A number of critics, such as Bill Simmons suggested that Bryant, with his team trailing by so much, should have attempted more shots in the second half; some, such as Charles Barkley even suggested that Bryant refused to shoot to “prove a point” about the inferior scoring ability of his teammates. Bryant and coach Phil Jackson denied this, with both stating that Kobe was following the halftime gameplan by getting others involved.

During the 2006 off-season, the Lakers drafted UCLA point guard Jordan Farmar. To the surprise of many fans, the Lakers started the season strongly with key victories over teams like the Utah Jazz, Dallas Mavericks, and San Antonio Spurs. However, things started going downhill after a slew of injuries to Lamar Odom, Kwame Brown, and Luke Walton. Kobe Bryant was suspended twice for striking opponents, and some started to question if he was a “dirty player.” Outraged at these criticisms, Bryant went on a record-setting 4-game streak of scoring at least 50 points. The Lakers managed to grab the seventh seed, but lost to the Phoenix Suns 4–1 in the first round.

Following the 2006–07 season the future of Kobe Bryant’s career as a Laker fell into doubt, when he demanded to be traded. For a week he tiraded and the situation escalated when a videotape about him was released. The video recorded him saying that the Lakers should have traded Andrew Bynum for Jason Kidd. Bryant insulted Bynum and was critical of general manager Mitch Kupchak. Roster management decided to resign Derek Fisher, a past hero, but the Lakers would enter the season frustrated and with question marks.

2007–2013: Bryant and Gasol – Return to championship form

The Lakers started the 2007–08 season surprisingly well. Fueled by the emergence of Andrew Bynum as a main option at center, the Lakers would even enjoy being the number one team in the Western Conference for three days. Capped by an early season trade for Trevor Ariza, rumors of Bryant wanting to leave Los Angeles were finally beginning to die. However, before the Lakers could savor their new success, Bynum would go down with a knee injury that would take him out for the remainder of the season. Suddenly, the contending Lakers would lose three straight games. The remainder of the season looked bleak for the Lakers, who were struggling to win games. It seemed that injuries, once again, would cripple another Laker season.

On February 1, 2008, the Lakers dealt the unpopular Kwame Brown, rookie Javaris Crittenton, veteran Aaron McKie, the draft rights to Marc Gasol, and first round picks in 2008 and 2010 for Spaniard all-star forward Pau Gasol (Marc’s older brother) and a second round draft choice in 2010.

With the Lakers now having a center and power forward who are both 7 feet tall, analysts have referred to Gasol and Bynum as “the twin towers”, similar to famous NBA duos such as Tim Duncan and David Robinson, Patrick Ewing and Bill Cartwright, and the original named duo of Hakeem Olajuwon and Ralph Sampson. Even while waiting for Bynum’s return, the Lakers were playing very well and got a second taste of being best in the Western Conference.

With Kobe Bryant leading the charge with his MVP-caliber season, the month of April was very triumphant for the Lakers, who quickly surged to the top of Western Conference. Aided by Gasol’s versatile abilities and Lamar Odom’s stellar play as a third option, the Lakers clinched their playoff berth for the 55th time in their 60 years with the league, won the Pacific Division from the Phoenix Suns (their first since Shaq left in 2004), and clinched the number one seed in the Western Conference for the first time since the 1999–2000 season. Bryant was also named the 2007–2008 NBA Most Valuable Player. Entering the post-season, the Lakers would post a 12–3 record entering the Finals. However, problems suddenly arose when the Lakers faced the Boston Celtics in the 2008 NBA Finals. The Celtics, the best-record team during the regular season, convincingly beat the Lakers 4–2 in the best of 7 series.

In the 2009 season, the Lakers had only one goal in mind: “ring”, their huddle chant throughout the year. In January, the Lakers would again lose Andrew Bynum to injury. Bynum would return for the last few games of the regular season, and the Lakers ended up with a record of 65–17. In the playoffs, Los Angeles easily beat the Utah Jazz in the first round, but faced a tough Houston Rockets team the next round. Though the Rockets stunned the Staples Center crowd with a Game 1 win, the Lakers took the series in seven, with most games of the series ending as a blowout. The Denver Nuggets kept the next round tight for L.A., until the Lakers blew them out in Game 6, winning the conference championship. In the Finals against the Orlando Magic, several games were close, but the Lakers still won 4–1 and were crowned NBA Champions for the first time in 7 years. Kobe Bryant was named the Finals MVP.

Five championship banners were added to the rafters of Staples Center during Phil Jackson’s tenure with the Lakers.

On July 3, 2009, the Lakers signed Houston Rockets forward Ron Artest to a five-year contract to replace Lakers forward Trevor Ariza who signed with the Rockets. The Lakers once again won the Western Conference and made it to their third straight finals. In the 2010 NBA Finals, the Lakers were rematched with the Boston Celtics. Faced against much of the same roster that they had played with in 2008, the series played out very tightly, with both teams trading wins for the first four games. After the Celtics won a decisive game 5, the series moved back to Los Angeles where the Lakers would win in a rout. Coming down to the fifth game 7 in the rivalry’s history, Boston played well in the early goings of the match. However, the Lakers would rally in the fourth quarter to a raging Staples Center crowd. Led by Bryant and Gasol’s rebounding, and with clutch shots from Ron Artest and Derek Fisher, the Lakers would win their franchise’s sixteenth NBA championship. Bryant was awarded his second consecutive Finals Most Valuable Player Award.

In the 2011 NBA Playoffs, the Lakers advanced past the first round by defeating the New Orleans Hornets 4–2. However, the Dallas Mavericks swept the Lakers and ended Phil Jackson’s career with a 36-point blowout in Game 4.

After Jackson’s retirement, former Cleveland Cavaliers head coach Mike Brown was hired as head coach.[33] On December 8, 2011, the New Orleans Hornets, the Los Angeles Lakers and the Houston Rockets agreed to a trade that would send Chris Paul to Los Angeles. NBA commissioner David Stern nullified the trade. The decision was met with severe backlash by players and sportswriters. The league had acquired the Hornets from former owner George Shinn, and the commissioner’s office has final authority over all management decisions. Several of the other owners, also opposed the deal (most notably Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert). At the end of the trade deadline, the Lakers traded long time point guard Derek Fisher to Houston for Jordan Hill. During the 2012 NBA Playoffs, the Lakers nearly blew a 3–1 series lead to the Denver Nuggets, before closing them out in the seventh game. Entering the semifinals, the Lakers would lose to the Oklahoma City Thunder 4–1.

Entering the 2012–13 season, the Lakers made key changes in their roster, trading several draft picks to the Phoenix Suns for two time MVP Steve Nash, and trading Andrew Bynum and a first round draft pick in a four team deal that netted them three time defensive player of the year Dwight Howard. After a 1–4 start to the season, Brown was fired as head coach.The Lakers first contacted Jackson to replace Brown;  however, talks stalled as Jackson requested time to consider the position. The next day, the team talked with Mike D’Antoni and signed him to a multi-year contract in a unanimous decision by the front office. They felt that D’Antoni’s fast-paced style of play made him a “great fit” for the team, more suitable than Jackson’s structured triangle offense. Jerry Buss’ preference has always been for the Lakers to have a wide-open offense.  D’Antoni was reunited with Nash, who won two MVPs in four season under D’Antoni while with the Suns. Bryant was also familiar with D’Antoni; Bryant as a child knew him when D’Antoni was a star in Italy and Bryant’s father was also playing there. Bryant grew close with D’Antoni during their time with the United States national team.

D’Antoni’s coaching debut with the Lakers was delayed as he recovered from knee replacement surgery he had weeks earlier.  Bernie Bickerstaff, who was the Lakers’ interim coach after Brown was fired, continued in that role after D’Antoni was hired.  He was 4–1 as the interim coach, winning his last two as D’Antoni started leading team practices. D’Antoni predicted that the Lakers, then 3–5 and ranked 20th in scoring with 96.5 points per game, should instead be scoring “110–115 points a game”.  He wanted to revive Showtime.[48] On November 20, he coached his first game—nine days after he was hired—in a 95–90 win against the Brooklyn Nets.[49] On February 18, 2013 the Lakers franchise and the sports world were saddened by the death of Dr. Jerry Buss at the age of 80. In their first game after his passing and following a speech of tribute from Kobe Bryant along with a moment of silence observed by the crowd, an emotional and inspired Lakers team defeated their archrival Celtics. Very fitting in that this was the team Dr. Buss most enjoyed seeing his Lakers beat. With 10 championships and 16 finals appearances during his tenure as owner beginning in 1979 until his death, Dr. Buss was the most successful owner in the history of North American sports.

Despite all the struggles, including an injury to Kobe in a controversial March loss to Atlanta in which they were not awarded 2 free throws after Kobe’s injury, while it was later admitted they should have, the Lakers made the playoffs as the 7th seed at 45-37, only clinching a playoff spot in the last game. Their first round matchup against San Antonio was nowhere to being close as the Spurs won all four games easily.

2013–2016: Bryant’s final years

In the 2013–14 season, the Lakers started 10–9 before finishing 27–55 and missing the playoffs for just the seventh time since moving to Los Angeles. The Lakers won the rights to the seventh pick of the 2014 NBA draft with which they selected Julius Randle, a freshman power forward from the University of Kentucky. The Washington Wizards agreed to sell the Lakers the rights to the 46th pick of the draft for cash considerations. The Lakers drafted Jordan Clarkson with the 46th pick of the draft and agreed terms for a two-year deal.

The Lakers finished their 2014–15 season with a record of 21–61, missing the playoffs, and earning the worst record in franchise history. The Lakers obtained the second pick of the 2015 NBA draft at the 2015 NBA Draft Lottery where they drafted Ohio State University freshman point guard D’Angelo Russell. They also drafted Larry Nance, Jr. with the 27th pick and Anthony Brown with the 34th pick of the 2015 NBA draft.[citation needed]

Early in the 2015–16 season, Bryant announced he would retire at the end of the season.  In Bryant’s final game, he gave the Lakers one more 60-point game in a 101–96 victory over the Utah Jazz. The Lakers were eliminated from playoff contention for the third straight season, the ninth time total since moving to Los Angeles, and a new team record for worst finish at 17–65. It was the first postseason drought for the Lakers to surpass two straight misses in the 1974–75 and 1975–76 seasons.

2016–present: Post-Bryant era

On April 24, 2016 the Lakers announced they had fired coach Byron Scott. He was replaced by Warriors assistant and former Lakers forward Luke Walton.[51][52] Soon thereafter, the Lakers won the second overall pick in the 2016 NBA draft[53] and selected Brandon Ingram, a 6’9″ freshman small forward from Duke University.

On February 21, 2017, the Lakers fired general manager Mitch Kupchak, while Magic Johnson was named as the president of basketball operations. The team’s governor Jeanie Buss, also announced the removal of her brother, Jim Buss, from his position as executive vice president of basketball operations.[55][56] On March 7, 2017, the Lakers hired Rob Pelinka as the general manager.

In the 2017 NBA draft the Lakers had the second overall pick yet again, and selected Lonzo Ball, a 6’6″ freshman point guard from UCLA.[58] In a draft-day trade, the Lakers also acquired Brook Lopez and 27th overall selection Kyle Kuzma from the Brooklyn Nets in exchange for Russell and Timofey Mozgov.  The 2017–18 season saw another improvement with a 35–47 record, nine more wins than the previous season. In addition, Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr. were traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers in exchange for Isaiah Thomas, Channing Frye and the 25th overall selection in the 2018 NBA draft. That draft pick was used to select center Moritz Wagner from Michigan during the 2018 NBA draft. 

On July 9, 2018, the Lakers signed LeBron James to a 4-year, $154 million contract. The Lakers sustained several injuries during the 2018–19 season, and did not qualify for the playoffs for the sixth consecutive season.  On April 9, 2019, Magic Johnson stepped down as the president of basketball operations, while the Lakers finished the 2018–19 season with a record of 37–45.

On April 12, the Lakers and Luke Walton agreed to part ways after three seasons.  On May 13, the Lakers hired Frank Vogel as head coach. On July 6, the Lakers acquired Anthony Davis from the New Orleans Pelicans for Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart, and three first-round picks, including the number four overall in the 2019 draft.


Rookie All-Star action
Rookie of the season Austin Bernier working on his patented overhead shot in Hawaii.  Photo by Catherine Bernier

Rookie League awards

First team

Richard Haro            Yardbirds            Most Valuable Player

Stellan Haberli        Bluesbreakers       

Mariamawit Belew     Animals

Keanu Straughter      Animals

Colson Moore        Animals

Oguz Aghayev        Turtles

Austin Bernier        Turtles

George Nicholas        Yardbirds

Dylan Greenberg        Rascals

Spencer Nelson        Rascals

Xander Chin            Zombies

August Richane        Yardbirds

Second team

Joaquin Jimenez        Bluesbreakers 

River Greenwell         Turtles 

Arya Nawathe        Yardbirds 

Jacob Silvera            Yardbirds 

Aryan Abjani            Bluesbreaker    

Henry Mack            Rascals

Siva Pfanschmidt       Zombies 

Theo Decordoba        Zombies 

Gus Mitha             Zombies

Daniel Gruft            Turtles

Honorable mention

Jason Gaines            Animals

Zayn Al-Shawe         Animals

Oliver Harris            Yardbirds 

Zeke Sarr            Bluesbreakers 

Dylan Geary            Yardbirds 

Cruz Hecklin            Turtles

Nevoh Zach            Turtles   

Hawkins Wakefield    Turtles 

Ross Nelson            Rascals

Nolan Kresch            Rascals

Rookie League All Rookie/Newcomer Team

First team

Austin Bernier        Turtles            Rookie of the season

George Nicholas        Rascals        Newcomer of the season

August Richane        Yardbirds

Henry Mack            Rascals

Joaquin Jimenez        Bluesbreakers 

Dylan Greenberg        Rascals 

Siva Pfanschmidt        Zombies 

Second team

Liam Stafford         Rascals

Nolan Kresch         Rascals 

Mecs Szabo           Rascals 

Jason Gaines         Animals 

Weston Brea          Animals

Zayn Al-Shawe       Animals   

Zeke Sarr            Bluesbreakers 

Nevoh Zach            Turtles

Gus Mitha            Zombies 

Honorable Mention

Emma Kapczynski   Rascals 

June Carducci         Animals

Mickey Zhang         Animals

Leon Liu            Bluesbreakers 

Qiao Ren            Bluesbreakers 

Siddhant Khanna      Bluesbreakers 

Efe Gocen            Bluesbreakers 

Archie Lewis             Turtles

Noble Kent            Turtles

Harriet Pfanschmidt   Zombies 

Phoebe Paterson      Zombies 

Benji Kim            Zombies 

MacGregor Tooley     Zombies 

Tilly Mitha            Zombies 

Owen Rudman        Zombies 

Zoe Avramopoulos-Orlandos Yardbirds 

Drew Nelson            Yardbirds 

Ari Cummings        Yardbirds 

Rex Stone            Yardbirds 


All Bantam First Team Kammie Chen, Tristan Hayes, MVP Wally Levitt, Ryan Lim, Davis Forkner, Victoria McNary, Alex Ma, Elliot Ma, Wiley Scheflen, and Dylan Kravitz.  Photo by Sarah Scheflen 
Bantam All Star action
Bantam All Stars vs Minors All Stars

Bantam League awards

First team

Wally Levitt            Cars        Most Valuable Player 

Dylan Kravitz         Pretenders 

Bella Kariger          Beat

Wiley Scheflen       Revolution 

Elliot Ma            Revolution 

Alex Ma            Revolution 

Taylor Summers     Pretenders 

Victoria McNary      Pretenders 

Davis Forkner        Bosses

Ryan Lim            Bosses

Kammie Chen        Runaways 

Tristan Hayes         Police

Theo Richards        Police

Nicholas Rangel      Heartbreakers

Second team

Jackson Harper        Beat

Luke Steelman         Beat

Aaron Dyner             Bosses

Vitalina Moncher       Bosses

Louis Meehan-Smith  Cars

Constantine Avramopoulos-Orlandos Cars

Rowan Woodruff        Cars

Alec Ackermann        Heartbreakers 

Jaxton Moore            Police

Noah Norman         Pretenders

Ethan Pages            Pretenders

Rhys Scheflen         Revolution 

Siena Shickler        Runaways

Tiam Baraghoush      Cars

Alek Shaw            Heartbreakers

Honorable Mention

Atticus Sparks        Beat

Logan Cappiccille   Police

Brandon Israels      Police

Benji Saunders       Revolution 

Catherine Casas     Runaways

Bantam League All Rookie Team

First team

Davis Forkner        Bosses        Rookie of the Season

Vitalina Moncher    Bosses

Ryan Lim            Bosses

Tristan Hayes          Police

Wiley Scheflen        Revolution 

Alek Shaw            Heartbreakers 

Nicholas Rangel      Heartbreakers 

Alec Ackermann      Heartbreakers 

Jackson Harper       Beat

Tiam Baraghoush    Cars

Second Team

Kian Abedi            Beat

Laila Elliott             Beat

Kai Badat             Bosses 

Noah Norman        Pretenders 

Rhys Scheflen       Revolution 

Aaron Dyner          Bosses

Brooks Stuber       Revolution 

Benji Saunders      Revolution 

Max Jeffries           Heartbreakers 

Max Oganes          Heartbreakers 

Louis Meehan-Smith  Cars

Honorable Mention

Ibrahim Ally            Pretenders 

Eloise Siegler            Runaways

Diego Gonzalez        Heartbreakers 

Nicco Balerini         Heartbreakers 

Sylvie Levitt             Cars

Bantam League All Newcomer Team 

(Only for first season playing in Santa Monica YMCA league)

First Team

Nicholas Rangel        Heartbreakers     Newcomer of the Season   

Davis Forkner        Bosses

Alek Shaw            Heartbreakers 

Alec Ackermann        Heartbreakers 

Second Team

Kian Abedi            Beat

Noah Norman        Pretenders 

Brooks Stuber        Revolution 

Max Jeffries            Heartbreakers 

Max Oganes            Heartbreakers 

Aidan Hill            Pretenders

Honorable Mention 

Benjamin Ren        Beat

Mason Alvarez        Bosses

Terry Gunderson     Bosses

Evelia Brea            Bosses

Christopher Brehme    Pretenders 

Xander Zhou            Police

Jackson Garrett        Police

Dahlia Sharifi            Runaways

Alexa Sharifi            Runaways

Lucas Levitt            Heartbreakers 

Theo Bell            Cars

Rookie to Bantam League All Transitional Team

(Only for those moving from Rookie to Bantam this season)

First Team

Wiley Scheflen        Revolution        Transitional Player of the Season

Ryan Lim            Bosses       

Vitalina Moncher     Bosses

Tristan Hayes          Police

Rhys Scheflen        Revolution 

Louis Meehan-Smith    Cars

Tiam Baraghoush         Cars

Second team

Kai Badat             Bosses

Laila Elliott             Beat

Benji Saunders      Revolution 

Nicco Balerini        Heartbreakers 

Diego Gonzalez    Heartbreakers 

Sylvie Levitt           Cars

Honorable Mention 

Grace Samy            Bosses

Lauren Bryan            Bosses

David Casparian       Pretenders 

Brendan Still            Pretenders 

Roman Gabriel        Police

Eloise Siegler           Runaways


All Minors First Team Theo Haberli, MVP Jonathan Shu, TJ Tuner, Dagmawi Ayele, and All Majors First Team London Coleman

Photo by Kimberlee Turner

All Star action between the Minors and the Majors.  Photo by Kimberlee Turner
Minors MVP Jonathan Shu with his coaches Michael Olivier, Jonathan Schuster, and Robbie Sikora.  Photo by Jonathan Schuster 
Minors All Star action
Minors All Stars versus Majors All Stars

Minor League

First Team 

Jonathan Shu        Clovers        Most Valuable Player 

Theo Haberli            Impressions   

Leo Mooney            Clovers

James Cook            Coasters

Joseph Zak            Delfonics

Leo Sikora            Clovers

Noah McLaurin        Delfonics

Dagmawi Ayele        Drifters

TJ Turner            Drifters

Cam Pariser            Express

Max Hinton            Platters

Second Team

Ryan Schuster         Clovers   

Kai Mevasse            Drifters

Sean Saunders        Express

Annika Cook            Coasters

Ben Steelman        Coasters

Jarvis Wakefield       Express

Matthew Scholze      Impressions

Kellen McDonough   Impressions

Max Brown            Whispers

Julian Weinerman    Impressions

Nicholas Huether      Impressions

Ness Uskert            Whispers

Honorable mention

Henry Olivier            Clovers

Ryan Chambers        Drifters

Marina Shickler        Drifters

Evan Chang            Platters

Archer Aguilar        Whispers

Justin Tun            Whispers

Guy Sikora            Clovers

Minor League All Rookie Team

First Team

TJ Turner            Drifters            Rookie of the season

Ness Uskert            Whispers

Annika Cook           Coasters

Ben Steelman        Coasters

Nicholas Huether    Impressions

Kai Mevasse           Drifters

Noah McLaurin       Delfonics

Archer Aguilar.        Whispers

Cassius Taylor        Platters

Second Team

Parker Keslow        Coasters

Vaughn Elliott         Whispers

Jack Stoddard        Coasters

Miles Boelke           Impressions

Gavin O’Brien        Delfonics

Owen Roberts        Delfonics

Vihaan Nawathe     Platters

Oliver Kowalczuk    Platters

Rowan Booher        Clovers

Rayan Etemadnia   Clovers

Honorable Mention 

Jordan Blum            Coasters

Veronica Machala    Impressions

Conor Durcan        Drifters

Daisy Siegler            Drifters

Noah Hagooli Bolaños    Express

Dominic Drew        Clovers

Michael Mikhail        Platters

Minor League All Newcomer Team 

(Only for first season playing in Santa Monica YMCA league)

First Team 

Ness Uskert            Whispers        Newcomer of the season 

Nicholas Huether    Impressions

Honorable mention

Luis Zambrano        Whispers

Caden Feradouni    Coasters

Ethan Shah            Express

Tate Hastings          Drifters

Bantam to Minor League All Transitional Team

(Only for those moving from Bantam to Minor this season)

First Team 

Noah McLaurin         Delfonics        Transitional player of the season 

Annika Cook            Coasters

Ben Steelman        Coasters

Kai Mevasse            Drifters

Cassius Taylor        Platters

Second Team

Vaughn Elliott            Whispers

Parker Keslow        Coasters

Gavin O’Brien        Delfonics

Owen Roberts        Delfonics

Vihaan Nawathe       Platters

Oliver Kowalczuk      Platters

Rayan Etemadnia     Clovers

Noah Hagooli Bolaños    Express

Honorable mention

Alex Segil             Delfonics

Jordan Blum            Coasters

River Zelenovic        Coasters

Veronica Machala   Impressions

Ryan Cohen            Impressions

Daisy Siegler            Drifters

Conor Durcan         Drifters

Amir Enayati            Express

Gideon Hittner        Express

Michael Mikhail        Platters

Aidan Lin            Platters

Marco Silvera            Platters

Teddy Chang            Platters

Erol Besincioglu        Platters

Dominic Drew        Clovers


All Majors First Team:  Jesse Lister, Evan Daghighian, Kayvon Abadi, Keenan Bryant, and Conner Sullivan
Brother vs Brother:  Nathan and Adi Petros going for the ball in the All Star game.
The Spinners Amber Havel receives her champions trophy from her coach Brent Stoll
Isley Williams received the Minor to Majors Transitional Player of the season.
Sasha Yansen driving the lane.
Noah Kratz with the rebound
Danilo Samardzija secures the ball

All above photos by Louis Yansen

Major League awards

First Team 

Luke Khosla             Spinners                 Most Valuable Player

Evan Daghigian        Commodores

Jesse Lister            Commodores

Kayvon Abadi        Miracles

Luca Bainbridge       Miracles 

Eric Papazian         Spinners

Keenan Bryant        Temptations

Quest Miller            Temptations

Sebastian Ramirez    Parliaments

Jack Froom             Miracles

Joey Little            Parliaments

Lorenzo Stabilini        Spinners

London Coleman       Supremes

Conner Sullivan        Wonders

Jason Tun            Wonders

Bruno Picazo            Godfathers

Amir Jahromi            Godfathers

Second Team

Xailoh Hermosillo        Commodores

Michael Hanasab        Commodores 

Brayden Stoll            Spinners

Olivia Duarte            Supremes

Natasha Kohli        Supremes

Jaxson Glowacki        Wonders

Hunter Esposito-Doi     Temptations

Nathan Petros        Parliaments

Shiva McIntosh        Godfathers

River Mitchell             Commodores

Eli Eng            Commodores

Isley Williams            Godfathers

Honorable Mention 

Dean Phalen            Parliaments

Keean Stoll            Spinners

Clark Elliott            Spinners

Aayan Lakhani        Temptations

Amiel Doustan        Temptations

Crew Norris            Wonders

Zico Muldoon           Wonders

Major League All Rookie Team 

First Team 

London Coleman        Supremes        Rookie of the Season 

River Mitchell            Commodores 

Jahrid Longsworth      Temptations 

Isley Williams            Godfathers 

Olivia Duarte            Supremes

Second Team

Amber Havel            Spinners

Crew Norris            Wonders

Emerson Hill            Wonders

Priya Mavasse        Supremes

Honorable mention

Amelia Hess           Supremes

Amiel Doustan        Temptations

Isaac Samy            Miracles

Miles Aguilar           Spinners

Benjamin Lavi        Commodores 

Gryffin Glowacki      Wonders

Tavio Esposito        Godfathers

Jace O’Brien           Parliaments 

Parker Cappiccille   Temptations 

Major League All Newcomer Team 

(Only for first season playing in Santa Monica YMCA league)

First Team 

River Mitchell            Commodores         Newcomer of the season 

Crew Norris            Wonders

Jahrid Longsworth     Temptations 

Amber Havel             Spinners

Second Team

Benjamin Lavi        Commodores 

Pierce Malayil         Spinners

Honorable mention

Trevor Havel            Spinners

Jack Bell            Wonders

Ellie Verano            Supremes

Zayd Al-Shawe        Miracles

Sohrab Zarin            Miracles

Minor to Major League All Transitional Team

(Only for those moving from Minor to Major this season)

First Team 

Isley Williams            Godfathers        Transitional player of the season

London Coleman       Supremes   

Olivia Duarte            Supremes   

Second Team

Tavio Esposito         Godfathers 

Isaac Samy            Miracles

Priya Mevasse         Supremes

Amelia Hess            Supremes 

Amiel Doustan        Temptations 

Jace O’Brien            Parliaments 

Parker Cappiccille    Temptations 

Gryffin Glowacki       Wonders

Mohamad Jahromi    Godfathers 

Honorable mention

Nate Blum            Wonders

Isabella Van Bilderbeek     Supremes

Iván Gatynya         Miracles

This Week’s Profile

Each week, Swish has a profile of a coach, player, or someone in the program who inspires all of us involved in Santa Monica YMCA basketball.  

This week’s profile is of Ryan Lim who came from Korea last March when his father Ray was assigned to work for the rest of this year in Los Angeles.   Ryan had never played basketball nor spoke much English prior to his arrival to the United States this past spring. But with the help of the great coach Rick Moncher, Ryan became one of the best players to have ever played at the Santa Monica YMCA in his 9 months of stay here, as well as very adept in the English language.  

The following is from Coach Rick Moncher who coached Ryan for the two seasons that he played at the Santa Monica YMCA:

I’ve had the pleasure of working with thousands of kids over the years and few, if any, showed as much improvement in such a short time as Ryan.  He came to our YMCA program as a true basketball beginner, but after just two seasons, he went from beginner to one of the better players in the Bantam League.  Ryan’s development was matched only by his passion for the game. He loves to play, he loves to improve, he doesn’t want to see teammates giving less than 100%, he never wants to lose, and he has strong, positive support from his parents.  Ryan is a true winner in all respects and it was a pleasure to be his coach (and friend) for his short time in this country.

I had the opportunity to ask Ryan and Ray some questions for Swish.

DocDrew:  What did you enjoy most about playing basketball at the YMCA?

Ryan:  Playing to win with my teammates. It feels great especially when you come from behind to win close games. And, of course, making baskets! When I “swish”, oh, that sound pumps me up.

DocDrew:  What were your most memorable or favorite moments in your basketball career at the YMCA?

Ryan:  My dad probably expected something like winning the championship, but for me it was making my first basket in a YMCA league game. I’d never even touched a basketball before last March and I hadn’t thought I could make a jump shot in a spring season. Yet somehow it went in!

DocDrew:  Who are your favorite players and why?

Ryan:  Hard to pick one, but I’d go with Davis Forkner. He’s always upbeat and calm with the ball. He can dribble and shoot all day long, but he’s a great passer and finds an open teammate. Among professional players, definitely James Harden. My dad often shows me video clips of Harden’s ball handling and I want to be able to dribble and shoot like him one day.

DocDrew:  What did you enjoy most about having your son play basketball at the Santa Monica YMCA?

Ray:  Some parents would say something about the game day. It’s more than fun watching kids play for win and enjoy the game. But to me, it was the regular practices at the Y. Owing to our incredibly inspiring coach Rick, he grew fond of playing basketball and loved to see himself improve every week. So a few time a week all through this year, Ryan and I drove to the Y and practiced basketball. Whenever we stepped into the gym, everyone including Paul, Sam, Christian and Ian welcomed us and made us feel right at home. It’s getting difficult for my squeaky knees to handle jumpers and squats, but I know twenty years from now I’ll look back fondly the days I played basketball with my son at Santa Monica YMCA. Thank you all for the fond memories!

Ryan and his father Ray.

The Lim family returns to Korea this week, and we will miss Ryan and his family and wish them well.  We thank them for all their support to the Santa Monica youth basketball program, and we look forward to hearing about Ryan’s success in basketball and life in the future as he returns home.


SAT    12/14/19    ALL STAR SATURDAY

ROOKIE B * Dark jerseys 4, ROOKIE B * White jerseys 14


BANTAM B * Dark jerseys 18, BANTAM B * White jerseys 14

MINOR C * 18, BANTAM A *14

MINOR B* Dark jerseys 29, MINOR B * White jerseys 23

MAJOR C * 24, MINOR A *45

MAJOR B* Dark jerseys 52, MAJOR B *White jerseys 52

MAJOR A* Dark jerseys 46, MAJOR A *White jerseys 46

Final Standings:  

Teams are awarded 5 points for a win, 3 points for a tie, 1 point for a loss, 0 points for a forfeit.  Tournament games have greater point value. Teams are listed in their place in the standings with W-L-T and team points.


Yardbirds 7-2-0, 40 points *League Champions*

Bluesbreakers 6-3-0, 36 points

Animals 5-4-0, 31 points

Turtles 5-4-0, 29 points 

Zombies 3-6-0, 21 points

Rascals 1-8-0, 15 points 

Cars 5-2-2, 36 points *League Champions*  #Cars had 1-0-1 record against Revolution

Revolution 5-2-2, 36 points

Beat 5-3-1, 32 points (-1 for UTF) 

Bosses 5-4-0, 30 points *Identical head to head record vs Pretenders

Pretenders 5-4-0, 30 points *Identical head to head record vs Bosses

Heartbreakers 3-4-2, 27 points

Police 3-6-0, 21 points 

Runaways 1-7-1, 15 points

Clovers 8-1-0, 44 points *League Champions*

Impressions 7-2-0, 40 points

Drifters 6-3-0, 36 points 

Whispers 4-5-0, 27 points

Express 3-6-0, 22 points *Express 2-0-0 versus Platters

Platters 3-6-0, 22 points

Coasters 3-6-0, 21 points

Delfonics 2-7-0, 17 points 


Commodores 7-2-0, 40 points *Co-Champions* Identical head to head record vs Spinners 

Spinners 7-2-0, 40 points * Co-Champions* Identical head to head record vs Commodores

Wonders 5-3-0, 29 points 

Miracles 4-4-0, 25 points 

Parliaments 4-4-0, 24 points 

Temptations 4-4-0, 23 points (-1 for UTF)

Godfathers 2-6-0, 16 points

Supremes 0-6-0, 6 points

Thank you very much, 

Dr. Paul Drew, youth basketball coordinator at the Santa Monica YMCA,  editor and publisher of Swish

in News, Sports
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