The moment Kobe Bryant published his so-called retirement poem on The Players Tribune, the end of his time with the Los Angeles Lakers became real. And while it’s an excellent thing from a basketball standpoint for the franchise in every possible way, suddenly having an actual expiration date on his career makes the fans calling for his head sad and nostalgic all of a sudden.
The Lakers are tanking because they don’t want their top 3 pick to go to the Philadelphia 76ers. With Bryant, without him, it doesn’t matter. They’re going to lose a lot of games, and they made sure they have the right head coach to help them do it. Scott is so bad he doesn’t even need a direct order from above to lose on purpose. He does it all on his own, only he does it while openly hating almost all of his players and not doing a single thing to help the younger guys, the future of this franchise, improve and develop.
His partner in crime? Bryant, who know has about 66 games to make his farewell tour from the Lakers and the NBA. We’ve been talking about Bryant shooting his way towards retirement (and mostly missing) for over a year now. Things haven’t changed, just deteriorated. Bryant made a smart move. There’s no chance anyone will be mad at him now for missing so many shots, and he simply can’t stop missing. His latest “achievement”? Going 4-of-20 from the field in 107-103 loss to the Indiana Pacers, as the Lakers fall to 2-14.
A great player, with a great past. One of the all-time greats. But none of that sticks or should matter right now. Bryant is shooting 30.5% from the field and attempting almost 17 shots per game in 31.1 minutes a night. He’s getting less minutes than before? He’s making up for it by taking more shots per minute than before, while his body simply can’t keep up with the pace and the demands of an NBA game and season. So he’s retiring, only he’s given himself an excuse to be awful and not get reprimanded for it.
Lakers fans and others around the league will let the nostalgia wash over them and forgive him for the awful basketball he’s about to keep on bringing to the floor from now until April, unless he gets injured before that. He’s not getting benched no matter how poorly he plays on both ends of the floor, only he made a smart move, making sure it doesn’t hurt his legacy, which is remarkable, although the last three years and especially the last two seasons smudge it in unflattering stains.