Old Faces, New Places: Former Lakers Participating in Playoffs

Ronny Turiaf, New York Knicks Center (Career averages of 5.3 points, 3.8 rebounds, 1.4 blocks)

What he did for Los Angeles… For three years Ronny was a Laker, he was the heart and soul of the team. In 2005, the doctors discovered Ronny he had an enlarged aortic root in his heart; he had successful open heart surgery and returned to play with the Lakers in February of 2006. Never the most skilled player, fans could always expect Ronny to rebound the ball and play with intensity. Turiaf was vital to the Lakers rotation from 2005-2008, prior to the Lakers acquiring Gasol, seeing as the Lakers’ other options in the post were Brian Cook, Kwame Brown and an undeveloped Bynum.

Ronny Turiaf brought fire from the Lakers bench.

Currently…Turiaf started 21 games for the New York Knicks this year. His role has expanded significantly since the Knicks exchanged half their roster for Carmelo Anthony. Turiaf and Jared Jeffries have been the Knicks most important players in the post (besides Amar’e) in their series against the Celtics. Turiaf still brings 110 per cent every night, just in a different jersey now.

Josh Powell, Atlanta Hawks forward (3.9 points, 2.9 rebounds) and DJ Mbenga (1.8 points, 1.5 rebounds)

What they did for Los Angeles… they filled what I’d like to call “the Mark Madsen role,” every team needs a big body to fill out the roster who probably won’t see the floor much unless there’s an injury to a rotation player. Powell and Mbenga succeeded the Mad Dog’s role as 12th man sufficiently in their brief tenures.

Currently…Powell is six fouls to use on Dwight Howard for the Hawks in their series against the Magic. Powell might see extended run in game four due to the likelihood that Zaza Pachulia is suspended for his scuffle with Jason Richardson.  

Minutes have opened up for Mbenga in New Orleans after David West’s season came to an end. He’s left his mark (literally and figuratively) in the Hornets’ opening round series against his former team by bloodying Pau Gasol in game one.

Trevor Ariza, New Orleans Hornets swing man (8.9 points, 4.3 rebounds, 1.8 assists)

What he did for Los Angeles…I truly thought Trevor found a home in LA, as their high-flying defensive minded assassin until his agent asked for too much money from Mitch Kupchak. He was everything the Lakers needed in their starting small forward: someone who could score when needed to, defend the opposing team’s best perimeter player and was good for one jaw dropping dunk a night. When Laker haters pointed out Luke Walton as the Lakers’ Achilles’ heel in the 2008 finals against Boston, Ariza provided an answer to Lakers’ qualms at the small forward position.

Currently…Trevor is doing his best to contain the Black Mamba. I’m happy for Ariza, he left a good situation for a better one in New Orleans, where he’s found the added responsibility he desired. His game two performance (22 points on 8-15 shooting) was extremely impressive in a losing effort. Needless to say, I wish Ariza still donned the purple and gold. Not as much as our next ex-Laker though.

Shaquille O’Neal, Boston Celtics Center (23.7 points, 11 rebounds, 2.3 blocks)

What he did for Los Angeles…What didn’t he do is a better question. Shaq was the integral piece for the Lakers’ first three-peat at the inception of the millennium, some may argue Kobe was more important but the numbers don’t lie when Shaq was hurt the Lakers lost more games than when Kobe was hurt. At the apex of his career (and when he cared) Shaq was virtually unstoppable. He was the dominant big man in the age of dominating big men. “The big man has gone,” said Shaq. “There will be no one ever in the history of the game to do what me and Tim Duncan did, to lead teams to four championships [each] and have a nine-year span where either Tim or myself was at the Finals. It will never be done again.”

 The tandem of Shaq and Kobe came to an ugly end when the two argued publicly, if the two got along who knows how many more rings Sha-Kobe could’ve accumulated.

Currently…after a couple years of ring chasing, the Big Shamrock has landed with the loathed Celtics. Boston’s championship hopes hinge on the health of their O’Neal towers (Jermaine and Shaq) to get to the finals again with their aging roster. Seeing Shaq pull his calf in a mundane sprint up the court is a tell-tale sign that the age of the big man is officially dead, along with the Celtics’ title chances. Shaquille O’Neal ,one of the most charismatic figures in Laker history, Shaq Daddy, the Big Aristotle, whatever you want to call him is the Laker I miss most.

 Other notables: Von Wafer (Boston Celtics reserve guard), Jannero Pargo (Chicago Bulls reserve guard) and Aaron McKie (Philadelphia 76ers Assistant Coach)

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