He may have spent the first six seasons of his NBA career playing for the Lakers’ bitter rival the Boston Celtics, but Rick Fox fit in just fine in Los Angeles after signing as a free agent in September 1997.
Not only did he have movie star looks and a famous wife (singer/actress Vanessa L. Williams, to whom he was married from 1999-2005), the easygoing Fox is said to have served as a facilitator between some of the super-sized egos on a team that won three NBA championships during the Canadian-born forward’s seven years in L.A.
"We had our tough times," Fox said in an article in The Times. "I was always the proudest in that amidst the fighting and turmoil we were able to pull together and care enough for each other and the city."
Fox, who became known as an unofficial team spokesman, made plenty of on-court contributions as well. He was a regular starter on the Lakers’ championship teams in 2000-01 and 2001-02, with the fourth-best scoring average on the team each year (9.6 points a game in 2000-01 and 7.9 in 2001-02 during the regular season and close to 10 in the playoffs both years).
After struggling with foot and thumb injuries throughout the 2003-04 season, Fox was traded to the Celtics during the Lakers’ tumultuous 2004 off-season. Chucky Atkins, Jumaine Jones and Chris Mihm came to the Lakers for Fox, Gary Payton and a 2006 first-round pick, which Boston used to draft Rajon Rondo.
Fox retired before the start of the 2005 season. He spent 13 years in the NBA and ranks 95th on the league’s all-time list in three-point attempts (2,208).
Since retirement, Fox has kept a high profile, particularly on television as an actor (with roles in such shows as "Oz," "One Tree Hill," "Ugly Betty," "Melrose Place" and "Dirt"), dancer (competing on the reality series "Dancing With the Stars") and basketball analyst.
He also served as a guest analyst for The Times when his two former teams faced each other during the 2008 NBA Finals.