Throughout the history of the Los Angeles Lakers there have been a number of standout players who will never have their numbers retired or have statues erected in their honor - call them the Lakers' Forgotten Studs.
As a Lakers fan I want to make sure their legacies are remembered.
Today's installment: Rudy LaRusso
The All-Star Double-Double Machine
Rudy LaRusso was drafted by the Minneapolis Lakers out of Dartmouth played for the Lakers from 1960 through 1967.
The 6'7" forward-center was likely the most important Laker of the 1960's after Jerry West and Elgin Baylor. LaRusso was voted an All-Star as a Laker in 1963 and 1966 and averaged a double-double in 1962, 1963, and 1964. He put up solid stats during his eight years with the Lakers:
Rudy LaRusso, Lakers - 1960-1967: 32.5 MPG, 14.1 PPG, 9.6 RPG, 2.1 APG
Only six players in the entire NBA matched LaRusso's averages in points (14.1) and rebounds (9.6) between 1960 and 1967, and all six of them are in the Hall of Fame. You may have heard of a few of them: Wilt Chamberlain, Oscar Robertson, Bill Russell, and teammate Elgin Baylor.
Rudy LaRusso was that good for that long for the Lakers.
LaRusso played a vital part in leading the Lakers to dominate the NBA's Western Conference in the 1960's, though his hope for an NBA championship was never fulfilled.
Second Best - Again and Again and Again and Again
The 1960's Lakers led by Jerry West, Elgin Baylor, and Rudy LaRusso dominated the Western Conference, but did not win an NBA title.
During LaRusso's tenure the Lakers won the Western Conference in 1962, 1963, 1965, and 1966.
But each time they advanced to the NBA Finals, the Lakers lost to the Boston Celtics.
LaRusso was instrumental in the Lakers winning the Western Conference title in each of these four seasons. In 1962 and 1963 he averaged at least 14 points and nine rebounds per game throughout the playoffs.
In 1965 he averaged 15.0 PPG and 8.1 RPG throughout the postseason. He followed that up with a solid 1966 postseason in which he averaged 15.1 PPG and 9.0 RPG as the Lakers reached the NBA Finals in each season.
Rudy's career as a Laker ended in January 1967 when he was part of a three-team trade that brought Mel Counts to Los Angeles.
The 1960's Lakers dominated the Western Conference and were tantalizingly close to the NBA title several times.
Rudy LaRusso's contribution to these dominant Lakers teams should not be forgotten.
Andrew Sweat is a die-hard Lakers fan. For more from this author, visit Andrew's archive or check these out articles:
- Sports & Recreation
- the Lakers
- Rudy LaRusso