Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal’s Former Teammate Joines Ukrainian Forces in Bid to Help Country

Published 05/24/2022, 10:30 AM EDT
Lakers Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal sit on the bench with foul trouble against the Timberwolves in Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals at Staples Center Monday. (Photo by Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

The ongoing Ukrainian crisis has taken the world by surprise. Many have come forward to express their support for the victims of the political debacle, including many NBA players in the United States. However, one former NBA Champion, who was also the teammate of Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal, has joined the frontline warriors in Ukraine.

Slava Medvedenko was a two-time NBA champion with the Los Angeles Lakers; Medvedenko spent 7 seasons in the NBA. He went undrafted in the 1988 NBA draft but joined the Lakers in 2000. He was known for his shoot-first mentality and was known to have a good jump shot.

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Slava Medvedenko, a former teammate of Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal, never lived up to his true potential

Medvedenko was bought to the Lakers late in the season, to fill out the roster. He won the title the year he joined the Lakers, and he followed it up with another title. He used to start a few games every season when the power forward was injured. His main role was to provide solid minutes in a backup role and he became popular among Lakers fans after winning two rings with Shaq and Kobe.

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Notably, his breakout season came in 2003, as Karl Malone was injured. He started a lot of games that season; however, the next season he got injured in pre-season and fell down the rotation. Injuries played a major role in him not reaching his full potential, as he could have provided any team with solid minutes off the bench. He missed almost the entirety of the 2005 season due to injury and the Lakers let him go in March 2006.

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He later joined the Atlanta Hawks the next season but played only 14 games for them. After that, he didn’t get another opportunity at the NBA level, after which he tried his hand at politics. He even stood for the 2020 Kyiv City Council election.

Currently, he is contributing unprecedentedly to his homeland. However, this isn’t the first of his significant efforts. He has sold a lot of jerseys and memorabilia to raise money in the past and has been vocal about the conflict between the two countries.

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Vishwesha Kumar

656 articles

Vishwesha Kumar is an NBA writer at EssentiallySports. Holder of a Bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering, Vishwesha has been writing content for about 3 years now. He has been following the NBA for nearly 10 years, since first starting off in the year 2012.

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