While Nick Young isn’t always the most efficient of players, his style and personality stand as a complete contrast to what Kobe Bryant brings to the Los Angeles Lakers which might eventually help players like Jeremy Lin and others struggling to bring their best to the floor to change this team’s fortune after a terrible start.
The 115-105 win over the Golden State Warriors is just a win, but cane become more than that. It’s the tendency of anyone writing and covering sports to take one moment or game and turn that extremely small sample size example into a fleshed out grand theory about how things are and should be. Yet the Lakers have shown us for most of this season, about a third way through, that they are better when Bryant doesn’t try to show the world his scoring ability. And maybe even better off without him.
Bryant showing his alpha-male abilities during practice didn’t make a difference. It actually showed everyone what’s holding this team back. Not the “lack of skill” his teammates are suffering from, but his insistence on playing like it’s 2006. Bryant isn’t special among a group of castaways and less talented players. He’s one of them, and needs to start acting like that. I’m not sure Scott has the guts or backing to actually start benching Bryant according to his performance, but maybe something opened both of their eyes in recent games, otherwise Bryant wouldn’t have gotten that rest everyone was secretly celebrating.
Young spoke after the win over the Warriors, and hasn’t stopped talking since. Pretty much going to have to tell Kobe to pass me the ball, pass us the ball. Tell him to take the backseat for a little bit. He can be ‘Driving Miss Daisy’ and I can be Miss Daisy and drive. Obviously there’s a pretty fun banter thing going on between them, but there’s more behind this. Young is confident enough to speak out against Bryant in a way, suggesting that this team can do better if Bryant changes and bends.
Things might be a bit more complicated for Jeremy Lin, although his giving spirit doesn’t seem to be hurt by getting benched, seeing Ronnie Price do well (Lin, at least on the court, seems to be very supportive) and playing less than he should be, while his inconsistent performances continue, not helped with the way Scott has being toying with his minutes and place in the rotations, reminding us all of his experience in Houston.
Lin is better off with less minutes next to Bryant, so less Bryant should mean more minutes for him, right? Not necessarily. Price is currently riding high on the coaches’ go-to list, even though it’s never going to last. Bad point guards might have a good game here and there, but for the most part Price is closer to being a D-League player than an NBA-worthy one. Lin is better, but that doesn’t promise him to actually get a chance.
Rifts within a team are never a good thing, but maybe showing Kobe Bryant, through the media at least (it’s not quite clear what the relationship is among them in practice and behind the scenes), that the players want him to change instead of everyone whistling by his tune will move mountains, aka Bryant’s ego and stubbornness. In order for this season to not be a complete failure, it’s Bryant that needs to be different, not everyone else.