The man with the Clark Kent glasses who was basketball's version of "Charlie Hustle" (aka Pete Rose) back in the Lakers' glory days of the 1980s had played 14 years in the NBA, finally retiring in 1995. He was an assistant for three years under Del Harris before suddenly being thrust into the role of interim head coach when Harris was fired 12 games into the 1998-99 season, which had started late because of the NBA lockout. Led by dominant center Shaquille O'Neal and emerging star Kobe Bryant, the Lakers won 24 games under Rambis to finish 31-19 and make the playoffs, where they were swept by San Antonio in the Western Conference semifinals.
Rambis made way for Phil Jackson the following season, but stayed in the Lakers' front office and joined Jackson's staff in 2001-02. He remained an assistant for three years, returned to the front office in 2004-05 and rejoined the coaching staff in February 2005 to assist Frank Hamblen for the rest of the season after Rudy Tomjanovich unexpectedly resigned for health-related reasons. Many speculated the man Chick Hearn used to call "Superman" would succeed Jackson when his second stint as coach ended, but when Jackson returned for the 2009-10 season, Rambis took the head coaching job with the Minnesota Timberwolves.
After all the time he spent diving to the Forum floor or into the seats for loose balls, it seems fitting that Rambis was the last man to coach the Lakers in Inglewood. Staples Center opened downtown the following year and, though no one would've predicted it then, the Lakers christened their new arena with a championship.
Rambis is the sixth former Laker to become the team's head coach.