What The Showtime Era Lakers Look Like Today

They had it all. The superstar with the smile. The Captain with the killer skyhook. The owner with the bevy of babes. They were the flashiest team in NBA history, and they may have just saved the league itself. They were the Showtime Lakers, and in the '80s, there was no better show on Earth.

With Jack Nicholson planted courtside, these Lakers transformed the game, running and gunning their way to five championships and owning a decade of basketball. From the highs of a rookie's title-winning heroics to the lows of a devastating diagnosis, these teams were all anyone could talk about. But where have these Lakers legends gone since their '80s heyday? For some, not far, still displaying that golden touch. Well, maybe a little purple, too. For others, the road has been a bit bumpier. Still, one thing's for certain, there'll never be another team quite like the Showtime Lakers, no matter how many times they try.

Magic Johnson went from player to boss

By most metrics, Magic Johnson is the greatest point guard to ever play the game. In 13 seasons, he somehow got to the finals nine times, winning five championships and three MVPs. Oh, and he singlehandedly dragged the dying sport onto the front pages (that's a newspaper term, kids), displaying a charisma that had until that point been reserved for movie stars and cartoon animals.

And then November 7, 1991, hit. In a stunning press conference the living legend announced he was retiring from basketball, effective immediately, due to an HIV diagnosis. At the time, most assumed they'd just witnessed a death sentence. Johnson himself seemed to be the only one who thought he had a future, and he sure did. Instead of dying, Johnson transformed himself into a mogul, gearing a business empire toward underserved communities and creating a second act to rival even the Fast & Furious franchise. Today, he has a stake in the Los Angeles Dodgers and spent two years as president of basketball operations for his Los Angeles Lakers. He even worked to bring the Showtime Lakers back, thanks to the signing of LeBron James. Not bad for a guy with a supposed death sentence. Magic Johnson resigned from the Lakers in April 2019.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is the only Hall of Famer on the Veronica Mars staff

He's the eternal Lakers Captain, and the all-time leading scorer in NBA history. His skyhook was unguardable, and his surly attitude the stuff of legend. He was already in his 30s by the time Magic Johnson showed up, having spent a decade dragging Walton and Lanier up and down the court for 48 minutes. When all was said and done, he would win six championships and six MVPs, and yet that's just the half of his remarkable legacy. With his passion for civil rights, conversion to Islam, and devotion to yoga and martial arts, he was not your typical basketball superstar. And his life since retiring from the NBA more than reflects that.

These days, you're as likely to find him writing for the new season of Veronica Mars as you are hanging around an NBA arena. A dedicated author, having written over a dozen books on subjects ranging from Sherlock Holmes' brother to World War II history, Kareem has broken free of the basketball mold, creating a life for himself as a wizened sage and cantankerous commentator for the American landscape.

James Worthy is still in the Lakers orbit

For Lakers fans, he'll always be Big Game James, the former number 1 pick who more than lived up to the hype, despite having to share the court with a bevy of superstar players. Whether it was averaging 23.6 points per game during the 1986-87 Playoffs or his legendary Game 7 of the 1988 Finals, in which he put up 36 points, 16 rebounds, and 10 assists to help the team win yet another title, no moment was too big for this former North Carolina Tar Heel.

Since his playing days came to an end, Worthy has stuck close to home, serving as a studio analyst for the Lakers and offering insightful commentary on his former team. He also gets ensnared in the occasional beef with players like Kevin Durant, who blew up at Big Game for a supposed diss. Worthy was emphatic he never insulted the NBA superstar at the time and claimed no one had ever called him such shady names before. Hmm. Maybe James missed his ex-wife's appearance on Oprah in which she called him every name in the book thanks to a series of infidelities while the two were married. Oops.

Byron Scott went from coachable to coaching

Byron Scott was just what Dr. Jerry Buss ordered when drafted out of Arizona State University in 1983, namely a high-energy spark plug who could play scrappy defense and still soar above the rim. He would go on to win three championships with the team and bridge the gap between the Magic and Kobe eras, mentoring the next great Laker during his final season as a player.

Following retirement, Scott transitioned to coaching, leading the New Jersey Nets to the Finals in 2002 and 2003. He would then help launch Chris Paul to superstar status as coach of the New Orleans Hornets, winning Coach of the Year honors in 2008. But his most coveted and most bittersweet role must have been as coach of the Lakers from 2014 to 2016. According to rumors, his hardened, old school mentality clashed with his team's young prospects, and his devotion to Kobe Bryant above all others rubbed many the wrong way. He claimed his role at the time was to "get through the next two years so Kobe doesn't go crazy." When he was fired, despite assurances that his third season option would be picked up, he told the Orange County Register that he, "felt betrayed, lied to and deceived." These days he's still an avid Lakers fan, doing some commentating and even mingling with Lakers staff.

Michael Cooper went from the NBA to the WNBA

Michael Cooper was the glue of the Showtime Lakers, playing hard-nosed defense one second and then sailing down the court for an alley-oop dunk the next. Over his 12 seasons, he'd be named to the NBA All-Defensive First Team five times and take home the Defensive Player of the Year Award in 1987. Not bad for a team better known for its electrifying offense.

He retired in 1990, having spent his entire career with the same squad, and seamlessly transitioned to the coaching staff, where he would share his defensive secrets for the next five years. Never getting his chance at a head coaching job in the NBA, Cooper looked to the Lakers sister team in the WNBA, the Sparks, for an opportunity. It was there he would win two titles and launch a second career as a women's basketball coach. That would mean stints with the USC women's basketball team and the Atlanta Dream, along with a championship for the Los Angeles Lakers D-League team in 2006. After being dismissed by the Dream in 2017, Cooper signed on with the new BIG-3 league, leading his team to the championship game in his first season. He later became the boys varsity coach at Chadwick School outside Los Angeles.

Kurt Rambis is back in the purple and gold

The ultimate lunch pail player, never afraid to do the dirty work, Kurt Rambis stuck in the league for one reason: effort. If ever a ball needed diving for or an elbow needed throwing, you can bet Rambis was the guy to do it. The legendary Lakers announcer Chick Hearn nicknamed the power forward "Superman" because of the thick-rimmed glasses he wore on the court, but Rambis played more like the Tasmanian Devil, everywhere at once and always going at 100 mph.

After he retired from playing, Rambis began a long career on the bench. Showing the same perseverance that allowed him to survive as a player, he climbed the ranks to the big job three times, for the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Lakers after Del Harris was fired during the 1998-99 lockout season, and the New York Knicks thanks to his friendship with team exec Phil Jackson. These days Rambis is back with the purple and gold, serving as a senior basketball adviser for the Lakers.

A.C. Green took basketball to India

When A.C. Green commits to something, he goes all the way, baby. Whether it's playing in the NBA (where he holds the record for consecutive games played at 1,192) or his chastity (somehow managing to remain a virgin for his entire playing career), this guy doesn't slack. And yes, you read that right. A.C. Green joined the NBA in 1985 and says he maintained his virginity until his marriage in 2002. Fun fact, 2002 could also be a decent guess at how many women the rest of the Lakers intimately mingled with over that time. On top of all of that, he's the only player to have won a championship alongside Magic Johnson and Kobe Bryant, giving him a unique spot in Laker lore.

So what has the NBA iron man done more recently? If you guessed helped bring basketball to India, wow, good guess. Green worked as director of sports for the country's United Basketball Alliance. Obviously, helping the sport catch on in the land of cricket and soccer would be a challenge, but if there's one thing we know from his playing days, it's that when this guy puts his mind to something, he can accomplish anything.

Mychal Thompson spawned a future Hall of Famer

Mychal Thompson was traded to the Lakers halfway through the '86-87 season to back up Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. With him coming off the bench, the Showtime Lakers now had four No. 1 overall draft picks, alongside Johnson, Abdul-Jabbar, and Worthy. In his four and a half seasons with the team, he helped them win back-to-back championships in 1987 and 1988 with his ferocious defense.

After retiring in 1991, he quickly transitioned into the radio booth and has served as the Lakers radio color commentator since 2003. But it's his family that's made Thompson's second act all the more remarkable. His oldest son, Mychel, made it to the NBA, playing briefly for the Cleveland Cavaliers back in 2011. His youngest son, Trayce, is an outfielder for the Arizona Diamondbacks organization. And his middle son, Klay, well, you might have heard of him. He's a three-time NBA champion, an All-Star, and one of the greatest shooters in the history of the game.

Mitch Kupchak works for another NBA legend now

Mitch Kupchak's tenure with the Lakers lasted 36 years, having played for them during their Showtime heyday and winning two titles before transitioning behind the scenes. The gutsy bench player soon became a management staple, serving under the legendary Jerry West before taking over as the Lakers' general manager, a job he would hold for 17 years. In that time he would win five championships, all but swindle the Memphis Grizzlies out of Pau Gasol, and form the biggest bust of a super team ever thanks to the brittle bones of Steve Nash and the weak will of Dwight Howard.

These days, having been dismissed from the only franchise he'd ever known, Kupchak finds himself working for Michael Jordan as his general manager. And the two former North Carolina Tar Heels have their work cut out for them, trying to make the Charlotte Hornets a competitive team for the first time in years.

Pat Riley took his talents to South Beach

Pat Riley was the perfect coach for this team, arguably the flashiest ever assembled. With matinee idol looks and the work ethic of a deranged lunatic, Riley could keep the masses entertained while racking up the wins. The name of the game under Riley in those early years was up-tempo. Let Magic push the pace and let the cards fall where they may. Four championships later, the system seemed to work, but emotions were frayed, egos ballooned, and Riley was eventually dismissed.

He would go on to reinvent himself as a grit and grind coach in New York, turning the Knicks into the most brutal team in the league, before bolting for South Beach and transforming the Miami Heat into perennial winners. With three more titles, one as coach and two as president, he has put a rather massive stamp on the NBA, becoming one of the most successful figures in the history of the sport. And in his 70s, he's still at it, trying to rebuild the squad yet again.

Jerry West helped shape the league

He's the NBA logo, and that's somehow just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to how much Jerry West has influenced the NBA. The ultimate hard luck player, West only managed to win one championship with the Lakers, despite going to finals year after year after year. Fortunately, he found a way to transform those frustrations into motivation, becoming the most successful executive in basketball history.

After putting together the Showtime Lakers and putting the pieces in place for the next great purple and gold dynasty, West ventured back east for a different challenge. He would, over the next few years, help turn the Memphis Grizzlies into winners, the Golden State Warriors into champions, and the Clippers into whatever it is the Clippers are. And he did it all while hiding as far from the court as possible, his competitive nature making it hard for him to even watch the game he loved.