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Divac Retires, Gets Laker Job

He ends 16-year career in which he was known for passing and craftiness, and will stay with the team in a scouting post.

October 19, 2005|Mike Bresnahan | Times Staff Writer

Vlade Divac, who rose to fame by high-fiving Jack Nicholson, then, later, irritating Laker fans with his flopping antics, officially announced his retirement Tuesday.

Considered one of the top passing centers of all time, the flamboyant Divac will remain with the Lakers in a to-be-defined position that will primarily involve scouting.

"I never thought this day was going to come," Divac, 37, said at a news conference at the team's El Segundo training facility. "You always think you can go an extra year."

Divac ended his 16-year career as one of three players to accrue at least 13,000 points, 9,000 rebounds, 3,000 assists and 1,500 blocked shots. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Hakeem Olajuwon were the others.

"When you think of European players in the NBA, it starts with Vlade," Laker General Manager Mitch Kupchak said. "He opened the doors for a lot of people."

Drafted No. 26 overall by the Lakers in 1989, Divac made the all-rookie team and quickly became a franchise favorite by blowing kisses to the crowd and slapping hands courtside with Nicholson. He stayed for seven seasons before being traded to the Charlotte Hornets for the rights to 17-year-old Kobe Bryant on draft day in 1996.

He later signed with the Sacramento Kings and helped turn them from Western Conference doormat to a legitimate threat to the Laker mini-dynasty.

Divac survived with his passing skills and craftiness -- specifically a fall-down defensive style that was as successful as any against Shaquille O'Neal, who often scowled at Divac and called him a "flopper."

Divac's Sacramento days will also be framed by his involvement in the final seconds of Game 4 of the 2002 Western Conference finals against the Lakers.

After Bryant missed a short runner, Divac reflexively batted the rebound toward the top of the key, where Robert Horry picked up the ball and made a three-pointer for a 100-99 Laker victory. The Lakers came back from a 24-point deficit in that game, ultimately won the series in seven, and then took their third consecutive league title by beating the New Jersey Nets.

Divac played only 15 games last season with the Lakers, hurting his back before the season after attempting an ill-fated spin move during an informal workout.

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Divac's record

Career statistics for Vlade Divac, who announced his retirement from the NBA on Tuesday:

*--* Season Team G MPG PPG RPG APG FG% FT% 1989-90 Lakers 82 19.6 8.5 6.2 0.9 499 708 1990-91 Lakers 82 28.2 11.2 8.1 1.1 565 703 1991-92 Lakers 36 27.2 11.3 6.8 1.7 495 768 1992-93 Lakers 82 30.8 12.8 8.9 2.8 485 689 1993-94 Lakers 79 34.0 14.2 10.8 3.9 506 686 1994-95 Lakers 80 35.1 16.0 10.4 4.1 507 777 1995-96 Lakers 79 31.3 12.9 8.6 3.3 513 641 1996-97 Charlotte 81 35.1 12.6 9.0 3.7 494 683 1997-98 Charlotte 64 28.2 10.4 8.1 2.7 498 691 1998-99 Sacramento 50 35.2 14.3 10.0 4.3 470 702 1999-00 Sacramento 82 29.0 12.3 8.0 3.0 503 691 2000-01 Sacramento 81 29.9 12.0 8.3 2.9 482 691 2001-02 Sacramento 80 30.3 11.1 8.4 3.7 472 615 2002-03 Sacramento 80 29.8 9.9 7.2 3.4 466 713 2003-04 Sacramento 81 28.6 9.9 5.7 5.3 470 654 2004-05 Lakers 15 8.7 2.3 2.1 1.3 419 667 Totals 1134 29.8 11.8 8.2 3.1 495 692

*--*

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