Written by: Elizabeth Benson
Kurt Rambis has had a highly successful career thus far. After being drafted and later waived by the Knicks in 1980, Rambis won the 1980 Greek Cup while playing for the AEK Athens club. In 1981 the Lakers signed Rambis as a free agent, which was the real turning point for his career. He became a household name for his “leave it all on the court” approach and attitude that he brought to the Lakers every game.
In the “Showtime” era in Lakerland, Rambis’ willingness to do the “dirty work” on the court and the defensive mentality brought the necessary edge to the Lakers. During his playing career with the Lakers, Rambis became the owner of four championship rings in 1982, 1985, 1987, and 1988. After leaving the Lakers after the 1988 title-winning season, Rambis returned to LA in 1993, retiring in purple and gold in 1995.
After a stint as the head coach for the Lakers during the lockout season of 1999, Rambis was hired as the assistant head coach for Phil Jackson. Under Jackson, Rambis absorbed Jackson’s famous triangle offense, which he certainly has in his back pocket to use in his current position as the Minnesota Timberwolves head coach.
During his time as the Lakers’ assistant (2002-2009) Rambis earned two more championship rings in 2002 and 2009. After failed negotiations with the Sacramento Kings to become their new head coach, Rambis signed a four-year, $8 million contract with the Timberwolves, taking over for Boston rival, Kevin McHale, as the team’s tenth head coach.
With a 17-51 record going into Friday’s game against the Lakers, a Timberwolves spokesman rejected rumors that Rambis was in danger of being let go at the end of the season. The Timberwolves knew the first couple of years of their relationship with Rambis would not be pretty due to the lack of elite talent on their roster. However, it wasn’t just Rambis’ success as a coach in LA that drew Minnesota to offer up a contract. It was his proven mentality of being unafraid to do the “dirty work” that was seen during his playing career. That is what Minnesota is counting on to turn the team around.
Kevin Love’s performance this season, in particular his record setting 53 game double-double streak, has been a pleasant surprise and a glimmer of hope for Minnesota fans. Certainly the addition of Ricky Rubio will cause the triangle offense to serve as a new identity for the team. With a lockout possibly in the horizon for next season, time will tell if Rubio will join Love, Beasley, and Rambis to complete the formula to success. According to Timberwolves’ management, Rambis has performed as well as he can. Unfortunately for fans and their record, that might not be enough.
It will be a familiar sign to see Rambis sitting on the bench again tonight in Los Angeles. It will have a different feel to it for Laker fans, though, as Rambis is looking to defeat the team that he has been so instrumental in helping throughout his career. Regardless of his current affiliations, Kurt Rambis will always be one of the most popular and well-remembered Lakers.