Walking down memory lane before Dwight Howard’s Laker debut

Other famous Laker first steps through the years....

There was, of course, a seismic event long before Dwight Howard arrived, a time so long ago that the Lakers were still playing at the Forum.

That would be Shaquille O’Neal’s first game in Los Angeles.

Oct. 18, 1996.


Incredibly, he hit his first two free throws in that exhibition game.

Wrote Times columnist Bill Plaschke:

“For those who want to save themselves this trip in the future, here is how O’Neal looks in a Laker uniform:

“Like a school bus.


“But that rare school bus with a sense of humor.”

The achieves reveal the fine points, the details lost over the years to fading memories. Then again, it’s highly likely Kobe Bryant remembers every last thing about his first regular-season game as a Laker, against Minnesota on Nov. 3, 1996, also at the Forum.

Yes, even having his shot blocked by Cherokee Parks. Bryant had one rebound, one turnover, one foul and one block in six minutes. He also missed one shot.

But it was hugely significant in that Bryant became the youngest player in NBA history to play in a regular-season game, at 18 years, 2 months and 11 days.

His quote afterward to Times reporter Scott Howard-Cooper was priceless.

“It’ll be neat one day to sit with my grandkids and tell them I was the youngest player in NBA history,” Bryant said. “By then, somebody may be coming out of middle school.”


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