Los Angeles D-Fenders
||This article may contain too many colloquial terms, phrases or words. (February 2013)|
|Los Angeles D-Fenders|
|League||NBA Development League|
|History||Los Angeles D-Fenders
|Arena||Toyota Sports Center|
|Location||El Segundo, California|
|Team colors||Purple, Gold, White
|Head coach||Casey Owens|
|Ownership||Los Angeles Lakers|
|Affiliation(s)||Los Angeles Lakers|
|Division / Conference titles||2 (2012, 2014)|
The Los Angeles D-Fenders are an NBA Development League (D-League) team based in Los Angeles, California. Founded in 2006, the team is owned by the Los Angeles Lakers, who were the first National Basketball Association (NBA) franchise to own a D-League team.
The D-Fenders play their home games at the Toyota Sports Center in nearby El Segundo, which also serves as the Lakers official practice facility. From 2006-10, the D-Fenders played most of their home games at the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles. The Citizens Business Bank Arena also hosts D-Fenders games.
The D-Fenders franchise has established itself as a top producer of NBA-ready talent, totaling 18 NBA Call-Ups and developing 15 Lakers assignment players since the inaugural 2006-07 season.
All games are broadcast in streaming audio from the team's official website and on the NBA's Futurecast web channel. On December 21, 2012, the D-Fenders announced a telecast agreement with TWC SportsNet Channel.
Origin of team name
The team name was chosen in a "name the team" contest with an interesting format. Similar to a March Madness NCAA tournament bracket, beginning in April 2006, the Los Angeles Lakers' web-site featured 64 possible team names. By the first week of June 2006, the choices were whittled down to two: only the "D-Fenders" and the "Breakers" remained. On June 5, 2006, balloting was closed with the "Breakers" as the winner. Three days later the team was expected to announce its new name, the "Los Angeles Breakers" but did not do so. While the name "Breakers" had won the poll, the Lakers organization had learned that a local coed dwarf basketball team already had the same name in use. The Lakers then fell back to the "losing" name: the Los Angeles D-Fenders. The official announcement and logo unveiling came on July 26, 2006.
History, season results, and player highlights
In their debut season (2006-2007) the D-Fenders competed in the Western Division and finished with a 23-27 record. Despite a sub 500 record the D-Fenders almost qualified for the playoffs. Dan Panaggio (formerly Assistant Head Coach for the Portland Trailblazers) served as head coach Brian Chase received an All D-League Honorable Mention and was selected for the D-League All-Star Game. Stephane Lasme received the D-Fenders first ever "call up" to the NBA's Miami Heat.
D-Fender games were played as "doubleheaders" with their parent club, the Los Angeles Lakers (either prior to or following Laker games). Admission tickets to Laker games also admitted one to the D-Fender game. On April 1, 2007, Jordan Farmar became the first player in history to play in an NBA game and a D-League game in the same day.
In the 2007-2008 season, Panaggio returned as head coach.
The D-Fenders improved to 32-18, strong enough to qualify for the playoffs. In the first round, the D-Fenders earned their first playoff victory after defeating the Western Conference Champion Colorado 14ers. In the second round the D-Fenders lost to the Idaho Stampede (who went on to win the D-League Championship). Stephane Lasme shared the D-League Defensive Player of the Year Award and received an All D-League Honorable Mention. Lasme was also selected for the All-Star Game. Jelani McCoy was named All D-League Third Team and selected to the All-Star Game. McCoy also received a "call-up" to the NBA to play for the Denver Nuggets. Panaggio was named the All-Star game Head Coach. Coby Karl, son of NBA Coach George Karl, became the 2nd player in history to play in an NBA game and a D-League game in the same day.
The D-Fenders continued to play home games before or after a Lakers' game at Staples Center.
In 2008-2009, Panaggio returned for his third and final year as head coach. The D-Fenders posted a disappointing 19-31 record. One highlight showcased Orien Green making eight steals in one game against Utah (December 1, 2009). Joe Crawford received an All D-League Honorable Mention and was "called up" to the NBA to play for the New York Knicks. Rookie guard Sun Yue became the 3rd Lakers player to play for the D-Fenders.
For the first time the D-Fenders played several of their home games at the Citizens Business Bank Arena in nearby Ontario, California. This marked the first time that admission for D-Fenders' home games was charged solely for the D-Fenders as the main attraction. Attendance averaged approximately 1,500 paid sales per game. The D-Fenders continued to play occasional home games at Staples Center and eventually signed a long term contract with Staples Center for the remainder of the third season and beyond.
For the 2009-2010 season, the D-Fenders brought in a "new" coach Chucky Brown For Brown, this served a bit as a homecoming as Brown previously served as the Assistant Head Coach in the D-Fenders' inaugural season. Unfortunately, the experiment did not work out as the D-Fenders posted a record of 16-34. This season marked the first time the D-Fenders had no assignments or call-ups from the NBA. Joe Crawford and Diamon Simpson were selected for the All-Star Game. Crawford was also a participant in the All-Star Weekend H-O-R-S-E Contest. Dar Tucker was named All-Star Weekend Slam Dunk Champion.
In May 2010, the D-Fenders announced that they would not field a team for the 2010–2011 season. While the Lakers retained team ownership the D-Fenders took this time to perform some housecleaning. Coach Brown's contract was not renewed and Assistant General Manager Bonnie Jill Laflin was released.
On June 9, 2011, the D-Fenders announced they would return for the 2011-2012 and play home games at a new location: the Toyota Sports Center in El Segundo. The facility offers a unique intimate setting to watch top talent as only 362 seats are available for public sale and no seat is further than six rows from the court. This good news was tempered by the looming NBA lockout and a desire by the Laker organization to cut overhead. One early casualty was D-Fender General Manager (and Lakers Assistant General Manager) Ronnie Lester. Lester, who had a 24-year association with the Lakers, could not come to terms with the Lakers. His contract expired and was not renewed along with some other 20 Laker staffers.
Glenn Carraro, the remaining D-Fender Assistant General Manager was promoted to General Manager. Thereafter, on August 18, 2011, the D-Fenders announced Eric Musselman as their new head coach. Among Musselman's body of work is previous service as head coach for the NBA Sacramento Kings and head coach for the NBA Golden State Warriors.
The NBA lockout began and the "world famous" Los Angeles Laker Girls, who had been practicing all summer for their upcoming Laker game performances, now had no audience. The Laker organization decided the Laker Girls will perform at the D-Fender home games for the duration of the season.
With a new general manager, a new head coach, and the excitement of the Laker Girls, the D-Fenders had a breakout season. The D-Fenders posted a regular season record of 38-12, an all-time best regular season record for the D-League that stands through today. Gerald Green was named the All-Star Game MVP. Two of the top five D-League season scoring averages were held by D-Fenders: Brandon Costner (20.3 ppg) and Elijah Millsap (19.4 ppg). Millsap also averaged 1.9 steals per game (5th best in the D-League). Courtney Fortson averaged 6.2 assists and 2.1 steals per game (both 3rd best in the D-League). Malcom Thomas averaged 9.1 rebounds per game and a field goal percentage of .619 (both 3rd best in the D-League). Thomas also averaged 2.3 blocks per game (2nd best in the D-League) and was named to the All D-League First Team. Thomas also was named to the All D-League Rookie First Team. Zach Andrews achieved a season field goal percentage of .647 (2nd best in the D-League). Both Courtney Fortson and Elijah was named to the All D-League Second Team. Brandon Costner was named All D-League Third Team. Zach Andrews received an All D-League Honorable Mention. A team record four D-Fenders were selected for the All Star Game: Zach Andrews, Brandon Costner, Gerald Green, and Elijah Millsap. Green was also named the MVP of the All-Star Game. Andrews was an All-Star Weekend Slam Dunk Participant.
Concluding regular season play, the D-Fenders breezed through the first and second rounds of the playoffs undefeated, easily winning the Western Conference Title. In the finals, the D-fenders took game 1 but dropped the next two games to fall to the Austin Toros. To cap off this historic season, Musselman was named D-League Coach of the Year and the front office earned the first ever NBA Development League Championship Award (an annual recognition award given to the team that best embodies the NBA D-League's goal of developing NBA basketball talent via call-ups and/or assignments).
In total, a record 6 D-Fender players were "called-up" 11 times to the NBA during the 2011-2012 season: Courtney Fortson, Gerald Green, Jamario Moon, Ishmael Smith, Malcolm Thomas, and Jamaal Tinsley.
For the 2012-13 campaign, the D-Fenders had a new head coach, former NBA Sacramento Kings Head Coach Reggie Theus. The D-Fenders played a 50-game regular season of which 25 games were scheduled as home games. The Laker Girls decided to stay on and once again performed at all home games. As of December 27, 2012, the D-Fenders were 5-4.
In May 2013, the D-Fenders named former NBA player Mark Madsen as head coach. On January 10, 2014 Manny Harris posted 49 points against the Idaho Stampede to set a then Los Angeles D-Fenders franchise record. On January 31, 2014, Terrence Williams scored 50 points to set a new D-Fenders franchise record.
On February 5, 2014, the D-Fenders set an NBA D-League record with 26 three-pointers made along with a franchise record 155 points scored.
On February 8, 2014, Manny Harris again set a new franchise scoring record, this time with 56 points.
On June 10, 2015, the D-Fenders hired Conner Henry as head coach. However, he left to become an assistant coach for the Orlando Magic. On August 5, Casey Owens was named the head coach of the D-Fenders. On August 26 it was announced that Paul Woolpert, Brian Walsh, Jermaine Byrd would be his assistant coaches for the 2015-2016 season.
Los Angeles D-Fenders roster
- Owner/Governor - Buss family
- President/CEO - Joey Buss
- General Counsel/Secretary - Jim Perzik
- Senior Vice-President/CFO - Joe McCormack
Vice Chairman Director of Officiating Management - B. Trevor Sprucey
- Vice President of Basketball Operations - Glenn Carraro
- General Manager - Nick Mazzella
- Vice President of Business Operations - Michael Harris
- Director of Scouting - Jesse Buss
- Athletic Trainer - Nina Hsieh
- Video Coordinator/Special Assistant Coach - Will Scott
- Sales Representative - Benny Garcia
- Team Travel Coordinators - Tania Jolly, Kristen Luken
- Basketball Operations Coordinator - Jonathan Farahi
- Public Relations Coordinator - Will Patterson
|Los Angeles D-Fenders|
|2007–08||Western||2nd||32||18||.640||Won First Round (Colorado) 102-95
Lost Semifinals (Idaho) 97-90
|2011–12||Western||1st||38||12||.760||Won First Round (Iowa) 2-1
Won Semifinals (Bakersfield) 2-0
Lost D-League Finals (Austin) 1-2
|2013–14||Western||1st||31||19||.620||Lost First Round (Santa Cruz) 0-2|
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- 2011 NBA lockout
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- "LOS ANGELES TAKES DOWN IDAHO BEHIND WILLIAMS' FRANCHISE RECORD 50 POINTS".
- "D-FENDERS SPREAD THE JAM THIN IN RECORD BREAKING FASHION".
- "D-FENDERS CONQUER THE WARRIORS BEHIND HARRIS' FRANCHISE-RECORD 56".