Players and coaches, they come and go. Eight years ago the Los Angeles Lakers made a decision to go with Kobe Bryant. Little by little, one of the two most illustrious franchises in the NBA has turned into a one man show, a stage they can’t seem to shake this Cult of personality that might be great for individual achievements (30,000 career points), but it’s stopping this team from moving forward.
Yes, it’s a rare moment of smiles and celebration for the Lakers. Bryant, fifth on the all-time scoring list, passes the 30,000 points mark. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Karl Malone, Michael Jordan and Wilt Chamberlain. Those are the only names that are left. At his current ability, depending on how long he sustains it, there’s no stopping him from scoring 8500 more and making it to the top.
Bryant finished the game, a 103-87 win over the New Orleans Hornets, with 29 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists. For one night, everyone forgot about the situation with Pau Gasol; about Dwight Howard’s struggles from the line (50%, again) and the fact that yet another point guard has gotten the chance to start, this time Chris Duhon with 10 assists, while Steve Nash and Steve Blake are both injured and the terrible experiment with Darius Morris was put to rest, turning him into a bench player, where he should be coming from, once again.
These are players I respect tremendously and obviously grew up idolizing and watching and learned a great deal from. Honestly, I don’t know why I’m still working as hard as I am after 17 years. I enjoy what I do. I think that’s the thing that I’m most proud of: every year, every day working hard at it. It’s a lot of years, a lot of work.
Yes, Bryant, for “once”, had everyone gushing over his work ethic and ability. Like he doesn’t get enough of that. David Stern just happened to be there, visiting Hornets owner Tom Benson, to catch Bryant become the youngest player to reach the 30,000 points mark. His career average of 25.4 points per game is 11th all-time and third among active players, with Kevin Durant and LeBron James ahead of him. He’s leading the NBA in scoring so far this season with 28 points per game.
So how come they won if Bryant scored so much? The Lakers committed a season-low 9 turnovers in Wednesday’s win against the Hornets. Another reason is that without the injured Anthony Davis, the Hornets are a pretty bad team, especially on defense. Dwight Howard had no problems of both ends of the floor to dominate, finishing with 18 points, 8 rebounds and 5 blocks. Antawn Jamison had another productive day as the starting power forward with 15 points. Metta World Peace, reaching the 12,000 career points mark, became just the 6th player in NBA history with at least 12,000 points, 4,000 rebounds, 1,500 steals and 1,000 3-pointers made, along with Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Reggie Miller, Gary Payton, Jason Kidd and Paul Pierce.
Once again, that was kind of forgotten. Immediately after the game people began calculating how long will it take Bryant to advance in the scoring charts and maybe even reach Kareem. They forget that his declining defense is a big part of the defensive woes of the Los Angeles Lakers, and that his ball hogging when the system isn’t running smoothly is no longer the best thing for this team.
Hasn’t been for a couple of years now, on most days. But he’s still one of the three biggest names in the NBA, and the closest thing you get to a sports-god in a city like Los Angeles, that tends to forget about you when you’re not that good anymore. Bryant is fighting to stay relevant and great, even it means he’s leaving his team behind.