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The Lakers' Clark Kent

The Lakers’ Clark Kent

June 1, 1982: The Los Angeles Lakers’ Kurt Rambis grabs a loose ball ahead of the Philadelphia 76ers’ Julius Erving during Game 3 of the NBA championships. The Lakers won, 129-108.

Rambis played the 1980-81 season in Greece, mixing in a couple of short stops with the New York Knicks. The Lakers, short of power forwards, invited him to the 1981 training camp. Not only did Ramis make the team, by midseason he was the starting power forward.

In a May 30, 1982, Los Angeles Times profile of Rambis, staff writer Mike Littwin reported:

PHILADELPHIA — Somebody must have goofed, maybe central casting. The Lakers put in a call for the big forward who passes, and instead they got a big forward with glasses….

Anyway, the Lakers had Kurt Rambis and, not knowing what else to do with a myopic power forward, they stuck him at the end of the bench with his black glasses, called him Clark Kent, and hoped if he ran into somebody it would be somebody on another team.

But wait, it gets better. Rambis, who last year was playing in Greece, is now playing and starting for the Lakers, a team apparently bent on winning an NBA championship. …

His numbers as a starter — 21 minutes, 6 points, 6 rebounds — are not startling. But neither do they reflect what he does for the Lakers. What he gives them is muscle.

“He’s a banger,” teammate Norm Nixon said. “He doesn’t back down from anything. We learned right away to respect him.”

The Lakers won the 1982 NBA championship in six games. Rambis also played with the 1985, ’87 and ’88 Lakers championship teams.

This image by retired Los Angeles Times staff photographer Joe Kennedy was published June 2, 1982.

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