There are a lot of big stories in the NBA right now, most of them involving Free Agency and Trades. However, one story that was seemingly flying under the radar is getting a little more attention, especially as contracts are getting signed and August rapidly approaches. That story is “Is Kobe Bryant ruining the Lakers?” Right now it’s a split decision because nothing has really gone as planned this NBA off-season. Melo stayed home, Bron went home, Houston loses Chandler and Bosh got seemingly overpaid for the 2nd time in 4 years!
Right now you’re thinking “What does that have to do with Kobe?” Well, Pau Gasol is in Chicago, the Lakers didn’t appear to even tempt 2 of Miami’s big 3, Nash is “Playing for the money” and almost every team has been in talks with Minnesota for Kevin Love BUT the Lakers. That means the biggest news of the Lakers made in the month of July was resigning Swaggy P, depending on what you think of Carlos Boozer and that’s not good.
The only constant is that Kobe is a Laker Lifer and is going to make around 25 million per year over the next two years. The Lakers STILL don’t have a Head Coach. Even the Knicks have a Head Coach and that situation on the surface can only offer you promise in 3 years. Kobe is clear on wanting to win now but that doesn’t seem to be enough to spark anyone’s attention.
Why is all this happening? Why are the Lakers getting more of a “Old School Vancouver Grizzlies” mystique this off-season? It appears that no one wants to be there, coach there and that in the end can only lead to fans not wanting to show up. Kobe could be the blame but, it’s not as bad as it may sound.
Kobe Bryant is now the “Dinosaur” of the league. Not necessarily in age but in mentality. Kobe entered the league in the midst of the final chapter of “The Jordan Era”. An era were only winners got respect and a small few who were a threat shoe contracts. An era where not everyone was considered a “superstar” because it was clear everybody wasn’t winning Championships. It was a time where you’re friends were your teammates, at least in the public eye and when you stepped on the court everyone else was “the enemy”. That mentality doesn’t exist in today’s game with the exception of my guy Joakim Noah. Today, it’s cool for everybody to be on Team Jordan, everyone has a sponsorship, it’s okay to shake hands, chill and even been seen out with other competitors and if you prove you can average 20 a night or better hey, you are considered the Best In The World. You hear more talk about the “Top 5 of the NBA” rather that “Who’s The Best Period.” That’s partially because the worlds best player is often given sympathy when he loses and not afraid to “ask for help” as well as say he wants to play with all of his friends if he can before his career is up. Kobe is not of that cloth.
Yes, The Malice at The Palace was a call to arms for peace, friendship and to let the world know “It’s just basketball” but, very rarely to we get intense rivalries and guys that genuinely want to win to a degree so passionate that you have to root for them. That day is just over. Even the All-Star game is full of guys who are watching one another score and its all smiles, daps and handshakes for about 46 minutes. Kobe is from the mindset that every game is a game to win. The new generation is just not on that. Sure they may say they want to win but end of day if the contract is 100 million or better, they’ll agree that they are good and happy with being able to provide for their families if nothing else.
Before Kobe went down in the 2012-2013 season he restored hope in the Franchise’s chances of making the Playoffs at a 7 seed after being a far 10 seed at best during the first half of the season and was definitely in the top 3 for MVP honors behind only LeBron James and Tony Parker in my eyes. I also feel at 100% health Kobe Bryant is still Top 5 in today’s league EASILY just off “Killer Instinct” and “Will To Win” alone! So why would nobody want to coach or play on his team? Is it the morale he brings? Is it because he truly is the judge, jury and executioner of everything on the court? Is it really not Kobe? Is it the front office? Have the Buss children ruined the current state of the franchise? Basketball season will be here before you know it. Will the Lakers be ready when that time comes?
As Stephen A. Smith said “The NBA isn’t the same if The Lakers aren’t competing.”
If you have a thought, I’d love for you to share it.
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