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That Time Rob Lowe Went To A Basketball Game With Jack Nicholson And Got Banned From The Locker Room

Back in the 1980s, Rob Lowe came to fame as part of the iconic teen acting clique The Brat Pack, starring in movies like The Outsiders and St. Elmo’s Fire. The actor has been open about his drug and alcohol use during that time, before he got sober in 1990, and he recently recalled a wild memory from his younger days, when he attended a Los Angeles Lakers game with Jack Nicholson and got banned from the locker room by legendary coach Pat Riley. 

Rob Lowe spoke on Jimmy Kimmel Live! about going on a road trip with famed Lakers fan Jack Nicholson around 1986 to see the team play the Detroit Pistons in the NBA Finals (the Lakers played the Pistons in the 1987-88 finals). When asked if the famous fans were allowed to ride on the team plane, the good-looking 9-1-1: Lone Star actor had a hilarious response. 

Well, I had [gone on the team plane], but Pat Riley ended up barring me from going on the team plane, and really barred me from staying in the team hotel. . . . Well, Jimmy, it was the '80s.

Sure, no big deal. Just 20-something Rob Lowe at the NBA Finals with arguably the biggest Los Angeles Lakers fan alive, Jack Nicholson, getting barred from being around the team by one of the greatest NBA coaches to ever set foot on the court. 

Jimmy Kimmel made a good point that it would take some pretty serious shenanigans to be a bad influence on the Showtime Lakers — a team known for its exciting style of play as well as players so interesting that HBO is making a series dramatizing that era of professional sports. Rob Lowe at first didn’t say what caused the ban, trying to explain it away as being the ‘80s, but he relented with a stunning revelation.

I mean, what a badge of honor to be banned by Pat Riley, come on! . . . It might have been when I gave a player who shall go nameless a Quaalude, and they went on an 0-for-60 shooting slump. In all seriousness, I think it was 0 for 32.

Okay, now I can definitely see why Pat Riley would want to keep Rob Lowe away from his players. Rob Lowe didn’t want to say which player he gave a Quaalude to, afraid fans would try to look up who went on a shooting slump during an NBA Finals series and get someone in trouble. But hey, you know, the ‘80s!

That sounds like the kind of story we might get when Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty hits HBO in March. The upcoming series about the Showtime Lakers — which Laker legend Magic Johnson is not looking forward to — will in fact feature Max E. Williams in a recurring role as courtside mainstay Jack Nicholson, but sadly no actor has been tapped as the pill-peddling Rob Lowe. 

These days you can see Rob Lowe first-responding on 9-1-1: Lone Star, which airs at 8 p.m. ET Mondays on Fox. Be sure to check out our guide to Winning Time: The Rise Of The Lakers Dynasty, coming to HBO Max in March. 

Heidi Venable
Heidi Venable

Mom of two and hard-core '90s kid. Unprovoked, will quote Friends in any situation. Can usually be found rewatching The West Wing instead of doing anything productive.