Kobe Bryant isn’t stupid. He saw the signs on the wall and read them very well. He knew a long time ago that the Los Angeles Lakers weren’t going to win anything or even contend in the near future. Maybe he thought his presence would help attract a free agent or two during the offseason and help him on a bad team, but it turns out, despite the kind words from Kevin Durant and others, that no one actually wants to play with him.
Durant and the others can compliment Bryant all day long about his competitiveness and what he’s achieved in the league. The bottom line? Every major free agent that had an opportunity to sign with the Los Angeles Lakers last summer decided to go elsewhere. Why? It’s not just Bryant’s presence, but it certainly has a lot to do with him. The media festival around his upgrade on the scoring lists, going past Michael Jordan (although needing a lot more years and games to do it), doesn’t take away from what Bryant is all about.
And that’s scoring, and making himself look like some poor dude, a legend stuck on a bad team. If anyone bought his act during practice to try and push his teammates towards excellence and success, you haven’t been following Bryant’s history. In the few times Bryant has made himself into a passer first this season, the Lakers immediately looked better. A smart basketball mind, Bryant knows it’s better for the team. But some things inside of him keep getting the best of him. Or maybe he simply doesn’t care.
Bryant wants to score and wants to shoot. He got the contract he wanted from the Lakers, now it’s time to get the other things he wants. Yes, that sixth title ring so we can have more discussions on whether or not he’s close to Michael Jordan (he’s really not) is something Bryant would love to have, but deep down, he’s realistic. There will be no playoffs this season, let alone a title run. The same is going to happen next year.
Bryant just wants to play, stay healthy, shoot, and hopefully score. His 38.2% from the field this season suggests he’s really not deterred by all of his misses and bad shots. Maybe he watches game tape and adjusts, but he probably doesn’t. Knowing he has all the power in the world to do whatever he wants on the floor and within the organization while Byron Scott sends that numb look into the void, these 8-for-26 nights are going to keep on coming.
Bryant is on pace to finish with more than 2000 points this season. With 631 already this season, he has about 1400 more to go, which will put him still more than 3000 points behind Karl Malone and about 5000 points behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. That means at least two more seasons to reach Malone, three to get to Kareem. This means another contract. Bryant has said he isn’t planning on playing beyond 2016, but we’ve heard him say a lot of things. It doesn’t mean they’re true or he won’t change his mind at some point.
The Lakers have turned into a circus. Some find it enjoyable. It seems that Bryant has earned the right to piss all over what it means to be a team player and the whole concept of doing what’s best for your franchise and teammates in the eyes of many. Not just his fans, but doting media members who feel that if a team is bad, at least let it be colossally bad with a great personal story of one player playing the sport of basketball like the rules don’t apply to him.