Hoop dreams
by Brian O'Keefe, FORTUNE Magazine

(FORTUNE Magazine) - Kurt Rambis, whose thick glasses and gawky dynamism made him a cult hero, was a key player on the great Los Angeles teams of the 1980s. Now an assistant coach with the Lakers, he talked with FORTUNE's Brian O'Keefe about the role of role players.

My first love was to shoot the basketball. But the Lakers were looking for a defender and rebounder. I settled into that role because it was stuff I enjoyed doing anyway - setting picks, rebounding, diving for loose balls. It's all part of competitiveness. And it also fulfilled a role on a team with guys that liked to score.

Awareness of our roles was a huge part of our success. If Magic Johnson had wanted to take 30 shots a game, no one would have argued. But he fulfilled a role in trying to orchestrate the team. One of the things that helped us was the unselfishness that we demonstrated. Everybody felt that his back was going to be covered. And that lends itself to guys making sacrifices. Top of page