Former Lakers champion says he wants to sell his title rings in order to aid Ukraine

Peter Dewey
3 Min Read

Former Los Angeles Lakers big man Stanislav “Slava” Medvedenko has been serving in Ukraine’s territorial defense forces during the country’s war against Russia.

“In the weeks following Vladimir Putin’s February order for a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, this is how Medvedenko spends many of his nights: Manning a guard station atop the tallest building in the Kyiv neighborhood he lives in with his wife and two of his children,” The Athletic’s Bill Oram wrote.

“For four hours every day he watches the road that stretches to the suburban battlefield and anticipates the moment the Russians will come. His efforts serving as a snapshot of the stiff civilian resistance experts have said Russian forces were not prepared to meet.”

Medvedenko, who won two titles with the Lakers in the early 2000s, became a fan favorite during his time with the Lakers. He backed up Hall of Fame center Shaquille O’Neal and was one of Kobe Bryant’s favorite teammates.

Now, he is doing everything he can to help Ukraine as it fights back Russian forces.

“Medvedenko is doing everything he can to support the Ukrainian army, which for a former NBA star has included auctioning off virtually all memorabilia from his playing days,” Oram wrote. “He said he has already sold T-shirts, jerseys and sneakers. Next up: His championship rings, a process for which he has sought assistance from the Lakers.

“The organization has offered to help however it can, including preparing a shipment of sports gear to send to Ukraine. In an email, Lakers executive Linda Rambis told Medvedenko that if he sold his rings, the team would replace them.”

The Lakers organization is clearly supportive of its former big man and making sure it can help him. It is also a great gesture by the Lakers that they’d replace Medvedenko’s championship rings if he does end up auctioning them off to help Ukraine.

Despite not having any previous military training, Medvedenko has shown he is willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for his country. It is an amazing gesture by the beloved former Lakers big man.

During his NBA career, Medvedenko was mainly a bench player, but he played a solid role for the Lakers over six seasons.

Medvedenko finished his career with two NBA titles and averaged 5.3 points, 2.8 rebounds and 0.2 blocks per game while shooting 45.0 percent from the field. He last played in the NBA for the Atlanta Hawks during the 2006-07 season.

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Peter is a graduate of Quinnipiac University where he covered the MAAC and college basketball for three years. He has worked for NBC Sports, the Connecticut Sun and the Meriden Record-Journal covering basketball and other major sports. Follow him on Twitter @peterdewey2.