Too much practice isn’t for Kobe Bryant these days. His body can’t take the punishment of both scrimmaging and playing in games. So his attempt to make the Los Angeles Lakers better while personally laying into Jeremy Lin by giving him a dose of ‘tough love’ isn’t really going to make the team better.
Jeremy Lin needs some confidence, that’s clear. He has too many times when he’s not shooting the ball when he should, and generally has seemed quite passive in the last couple of games, coming off the bench after starting since the beginning of the season. Lin himself has admitted it’s been tough adjusting to once again losing a starting role. He didn’t say he’s humiliated by the fact that Ronnie Price is the guy he got benched for (it’s more complicated than that) but whenever a borderline D-League player takes your place it’s a blow to your self esteem and ego.
Bryant had a go with Nick Young, but Young is the kind of guy who has enough bulletproof armor around his ego he doesn’t mind having a go with Bryant in practice, trading shots and words. It’s not bad to feel like you can beat anyone in the world and that nothing can harm you, but that is part of what has made Nick Young easy to move around in his career: A very dangerous shooter, but someone without a hint of a conscience, even when he’s playing awfully and hurting his team. He won’t change, heading down the road to become J.R. Smith for good and bad.
So while Bryant probably enjoyed his banter with Young, his next player during his failed act of leadership (well, we’ll know if it failed by the way the Lakers respond in playing three games in four nights) was taking a swing at Lin’s bruised ego.
This m—–f—– don’t got s—. He ain’t got s— right now. Shoot! Shoot! I talked his ass right into that bulls—. I talked his ass right into that bulls—.
After practice, Nick Young was talking to Lin (and also Jordan Clarkson) about standing up to Bryant when he gets into his dirty mouth-motivator mode. It’s hard to say if it actually helped out. Once again, Lin doesn’t seem like the happiest camper these days, but he’s had bad stretches before and has gotten out of them all on his own. On bad teams like the Los Angeles Lakers are, it’s not going to be someone else who pulls you out of a funk.
Bryant tried tough love with Dwight Howard during the negotiations when he hit free agency. We can look at the Lakers today and see how well that worked out. It’s hard to say if Bryant actually believes that him coming to practice and cursing at players, possibly humiliating them and calling them soft, is going to help. A poorly coached team isn’t going to get better by motivation from a star that everyone knows is looking out to fulfill his own agenda. Winning with the Lakers isn’t included. It’s just a bonus he can live without.
From the ESPN article: After the team gathered together at center court to close practice, Bryant passed Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak and said, “I’m supposed to practice and get better, Mitch. I’m supposed to practice and get better. These m—–f—— ain’t doing s— for me.”
From what Bryant has showed us this season with his play, he actually means what he said. Every night the Lakers play, it’s all a show to prop him up. It’s gotten him to 31 points away from becoming the third all-time leading scorer in NBA history .The wins? Team chemistry? Actually getting better? That’s for the peasants to worry about. Bryant is on his own mission, and acting like a so-called leader in practice isn’t going to change where this team is going unless the head coach and the other players turn this thing around.