City Sports Report

Blame Kobe Bryant, the $46 Million Man

Kobe Bryant

The Los Angeles Lakers are 3-13 to start off the 2014-2015 season, and a lot of questions have been floating around as to who is to blame for the poor start. Many have pointed to Kobe Bryant as the reason for the Lakers downfall. Kobe signed a two-year, $46 million contract last season, and there was a lot of uproar over the contract by the media. People felt that Kobe should’ve taken less money to help the team’s salary cap situation, and give the Lakers a better chance to sign big free agents.

What if Kobe did take less money? Would it have changed anything? I really don’t know if Kobe taking less money could hide the fact management has been incompetent for the last couple of years. The Lakers offered Kobe that contract, it wasn’t like he put a gun to their head and said “give me more money.” They gave it to him out of fear. The fear being that not having any superstars on the Lakers is worse than not having Kobe Bryant at a high price tag. Jim Buss and Mitch Kupchak should’ve found some way to make Kobe take less money, make him see the big picture in taking less, that way Kobe can understand winning a sixth championship means sacrificing himself even if he doesn’t know already.

Kobe is not Lebron James. He’s not built like a player/general manager. He’s a really intense player who only has one goal in mind, and that is to win. I know we are in an era of the NBA where guys talk to each other and recruit, but Kobe is not of this generation. He’s old school to where being a basketball player is enough. Being a recruiter is not something he is interested in. Whoever the Lakers decide to bring in through free agency should fall on the front office, not on Kobe.

At the start of 2012-2013 season the Lakers fired Mike Brown due to a 1-4 start. There was a lot of speculation that Phil Jackson would be the next coach to take the job but the Lakers decided to go with Mike D’Antoni. In an interview with Time Warner Cable SportsNet Jeanie Buss said “There is no role in the front office for him, for what he could contribute.”

That’s hard for me to believe when a man who brought you five championships gets no consideration for the job. Taking D’Antoni over Jackson was a huge mistake. The Lakers could barely play defense and the personalities on that team didn’t mesh well. I think Phil Jackson could’ve fixed those problems and made the Lakers much more of a title contender.

Not trading Pau Gasol last season was another head scratcher. The Lakers knew Gasol wasn’t coming back and could’ve traded him for another all-star or a draft pick. To assume Gasol was just going to come back to a team where there is little potential for a championship was incorrect. He probably was going to leave anyway since the Lakers have tried to trade him before and failed. To not make a trade this time around signaled a red flag within the organization. Even the Dwight Howard situation was handled poorly. To convince someone to stay on a team where he doesn’t get along with Kobe Bryant is ridiculous. All the signs of a stay in Los Angeles, combined with the big contract, were not enough for him to stay. Kobe didn’t even want to take part in a meeting with other players and management to keep Howard. Kobe’s not the best at recruiting guys to come play with him. He was aggressive with Howard during the meeting, which was a turn off, along with the fact he didn’t like playing for D’Antoni. To expect Kobe to help sign somebody who doesn’t like him, let alone Kobe not being a fan of the process was not smart on the Lakers end.

To put all the blame on Kobe Bryant isn’t fair. I think people need to take a hard look at Mitch Kupchak and Jim Buss and question whether they’re running this franchise correctly. A great organization starts from up top. Without that an organization doesn’t have any direction. Just look at the Knicks for example. It’s been two decades since they were a championship caliber franchise. Biggest reason for that? James Dolan.

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