NBA Playing Career (1980-1995)
Kurt Rambis was born in Terre Haute, Indiana and raised in Cupertino, California where he moved while in preschool. A graduate of Santa Clara University, Rambis played from 1976 to 1980 and still ranks as all-time leading scorer at SCU with 1,736 points and second in rebounds. He was awarded the WCC Freshman of the Year honors and then Conference Player of the Year as a senior. Drafted by The New York Knicks in the third round, Rambis was the 58th pick in the 1980 NBA Draft. Subsequently released from the Knicks in training camp, Rambis joined the Greek League team AEK Athens and with his team won the Greek Cup in 1981. His NBA player career kicked off when he was signed as a free agent by the Los Angeles Lakers on September 13, 1981. Rambis spent 10 of his 14 seasons in the NBA with the Lakers, winning championships in 1982, 1985, 1987, and 1988. Rambis also played for the Charlotte Hornets, Phoenix Suns and Sacramento Kings before returning to the Lakers in 1993.
Throughout his playing career, Rambis was a favorite among Lakers fans because of his status as an overachieving underdog and ultimate team-player. Playing the power forward position he was known for his defensive and rebounding skills, Rambis also was an efficient clean-up man on offense, with his field goal percentage reaching 59.5% at the peak of his career. Rambis played with the Lakers during their Showtime’ era, and in his first seven years with the Lakers, the team won a Pacific Division title every year. Rambis is remembered at both Santa Clara and Los Angeles for his all-out effort and willingness to do the “dirty work” and doing whatever it takes to win. Rambis was known for his signature style, defined by a moustache and thick-rimmed black glasses, prompting Lakers announcer Chick Hearn to nickname him “Superman” (in reference to the character’s alter ego, Clark Kent). He retired with the Lakers in 1995 after 14 years in the NBA.
NBA Coaching Career (1999-2011)
After retiring from his playing career, Rambis continued his involvement with the Lakers and took a position as an assistant on then head coach, Del Harris’ staff. During the 1999 “lockout season” after coach Del Harris was fired, Rambis served as the Lakers interim head coach. He maintained a successful track record as interim coach, tying then NBA record with 9 consecutive victories and registering a 24-13 record into the Western Conference Semifinals. When Phil Jackson was hired as head coach, Rambis served in the Lakers’ front office as advisor and assistant general manager. He later became an assistant coach under Jackson between 2001 and 2004, helping the Lakers reach the 2001, 2002 and the 2004 NBA Finals, with Los Angeles winning a title in the former two series. Frank Hamblen then hired Rambis when he took over as Lakers head coach during the 2004 season, and Rambis stayed on as assistant coach when Jackson returned as Lakers head coach in 2005. During this time, Rambis succeeded in helping the Lakers to another pair of finals in 2008 and 2009, winning in the latter attempt.
Rambis’ strength as a leader on and off the court brought many opportunities to his door. He was scouted by and interviewed for head coaching positions, but ultimately felt the strongest draw to the Minnesota Timberwolves. He recognized that the Timberwolves’ were a team that had a bright future and being the youngest team in the NBA would offer the opportunity to teach and develop their young talent. On August 8, 2009, Rambis was announced as the new head coach for the Minnesota Timberwolves. Under his tutelage, Kevin Love became a first time All-Star, the first since the Kevin Garnett era and Jonny Flynn and Wes Johnson were both selected to play in their Rookie All-Star games. After two years with the Timberwolves, Rambis was relieved of his head coach position and he moved back to California with his family.
ESPN Analyst (2012-Present)
His successful career in the NBA, has given him the opportunity to work alongside some of the most respected coaches and players in the league including Phil Jackson, Pat Riley, Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal to name a few. He has 8 Championship rings total as a player, coach, and front office executive. His passion for the game continues and he can currently be found on ESPN as an analyst covering basketball and providing ESPN followers with in depth team picks, post-game analysis, and player reviews. Rambis lives in Manhattan Beach, California with his wife, Linda and their 3 children. Rambis and his family are active in the beach volleyball community with his eldest son, Jesse Rambis playing professionally and his daughter, Ali on the Santa Clara University volleyball team. Jordan, the youngest son of Rambis currently resides in Los Angeles where he is active in the entertainment industry as a producer.