The sad predictable, inevitable end of Kobe Bean Bryant.
Posted by: SPQR on 01/24/2013 - 04:33 AM
Before the Laker’s game with Memphis tonight, the players had a meeting to air their grievances. That meeting was talked about on ESPN after the game. Among one of the issues brought up was Kobe Bryant asking Dwight Howard if he had a problem playing with him because Kobe takes so many shots.
It is telling about just where this team is and how irreversible this situation is that Dwight didn’t really answer him.
And that is just how low this team is now: Unable to get along, unable to even talk to each other in any kind of constructive way. Just mute desperation.
When this travesty of a season is done, when this team is finally, mercifully broken up, and yes, in all probability our last year’s savior Howard becomes next year’s refuge fleeing the Lakers dysfunctional war zone as fast as possible, or traded before that happens, blame will fly around like vultures over a carcass.
And there is much blame to go around. To Mitch and Jim Buss, for fooling themselves into thinking trading one good center for another and bringing in old, big names to a team that needed younger, faster players was the solution to our problems.
To Mike D’Antoni for trying to fit players into his system, not the other way around. And on the players themselves, how don’t try to get along, don’t seem to even try to play as a team, nor show any fire or inclination to do so. They seem like a group that can’t wait to get his unholy roller coaster ride over as fast as possible and start their vacations.
But there another person responsible for this excrement we call the 2012-2013 Los Angeles Lakers, and that is the legend called Kobe Bryant. When watching Howard look so beaten down already, so joyless, so mute and unable to even express himself, one looks a broken player. And one can’t help but think of two other more accomplished players who left here: Shaquille O’Neal and Andrew Bynum. All three had one thing in common: Kobe Bryant. The other thing they had in common was leaving LA. And it looks like Dwight Howard will soon share that journey. Andrew Bynum was traded, but does anyone doubt he would have taken the first ticket out of Kobe slavery as soon as free agency let him after this year? And who could blame him? And who could blame Dwight if he left?
.And once again, not by coincidence, it is Kobe who seems to be having troubles with a teammate. He is always the other guy in the problem. Shaq, Drew, Dwight. And it seems, he has the most trouble with talented teammates. Once again, not a coincidence.
Kobe Bryant, at 34, simply will not relinquish ANYTHING to ANYONE. He wants to play like he is 28 forever. He doesn’t get it. He doesn’t care who his teammates are, whether they go by the name of Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum or Dwight Howard. It wouldn’t matter if their names were Lebron James or Kevin Durant. Or Abdul Jabbar or Oscar Robertson. In Kobe’s world, even at 34, you accept scrapes and if you don’t, you end up broken, wanting to leave.
Dwight Howard and those fans who viewed him as the savior are now finding out what it is like to play with the Mamba. Just like Drew did. And so is Steve Nash. One can only wonder what is running through their heads right now. Well, not really. You know what it is. How the hell did I get conned into coming here to play with Kobe?
After tonight’s game, while being interviewed, Kobe looked like a beat dog. His eyes were lifeless, his voice soft and defeated. Gone was the arrogance, gone was the jutting jaw and the cocky smile. He looked small, diminished, quiet and alone. Because he is. No teammates to support him, nobody to have his back. Alone with an ego that even now, after all he has done, will not allow him to ever let this team, or any he is on, be a team. When he was 28, or 30, or 32, his wondrous, once in a lifetime talent was able to overcome that flaw in his personality and game. He was just that great. At 34, that is no longer the case. And as Kobe leaves the minds of the players who could help him most broken and bewildered, so too will he leave the team.
Kobe at 34 still wants to have four Dennis Rodman’s around him. Just rebound and play defense and let me do the rest. But other players, who feel have something to offer besides being Dennis Rodmans, who view themselves as professional basketball players can only be destroyed by that philosophy of greed. They can’t survive and thrive in it. Kobe doesn’t have four Rodman’s around him and even he can’t force other players to be that no matter how much he wants it. So he breaks them, in mind and spirit, slowly like on some inexorable, crushing wheel.
Yes, his diehard fans will counter with the same old tired arguments: He’s the best scorer. The other guys suck. He doesn’t trust them. But they don’t hold water and never did. They were just excuses so Kobe could run the NBA’s most elite and rare club with a singular membership, the club of me, Kobe Bryant. All these fans just keep running through players faster than Kobe does. Pau, an all star isn’t good enough. Drew, an all star wasn’t good enough. Nash isn’t good enough. Now Howard, their own personal Kobe savior before this season started isn’t good enough. And the list is longer than that and stretches back decades. Kobe didn’t trust his teammates after going to three straight finals. Because trusting them would have impinged on what he wanted to do- be Kobe Bryant. If you can’t trust teammates after three straight finals, winning two, when could you ever? The answer: Never.
The truth is this: Nobody enjoys playing on a team with a 34 year old man who still thinks the team is only him. How many of his teammates have we heard allude to that problem: Bynum, Gasol, Metta, Howard and others over the years. Doesn’t that tell Kobe and his fans SOMETHING? But he and they still think he gets all the shots and all the glory and others should be happy. It doesn’t work that way. Not anymore, not at 34.
I’m not blaming all of what has transpired this season on Kobe. But yeah, as our “leader” he sure takes a lion’s share of the credit. Yes, the problems are many, those I have enumerated on this post and others I haven’t. We know them all. But make no mistake; the broad shoulders of Kobe Bryant take a load of the blame for insisting on making the Lakers his personal, glory arena, even as that arena burns to the ground around him in a conflagration he helped create and ignite.
Now at the age of 34, when he should be reaping the benefits and accolades of his achievements, Kobe Bryant is all alone. Now at this late date, when even someone as self-involved as Kobe is to the very core of his nature, when even someone like him must finally see what is going on, when he could actually make his teammates happier by extending a hand, by sacrificing some of his game, or a lot of it, he still stands fast like the wall of Jericho: Unassailable, unmoving, uncaring, taking himself and the team down with him. Even at this late date, he cannot subsume that massive ego, that destroyed him and the Lakers, enough to try salvage something of this lost season and himself.
So it ends for Kobe Bean Bryant, really the only way it could. Because his ego would not let end any other way. It was an ending predicable years ago, as predictable as the rising and setting of the sun.
The confidence is gone. The jutting jaw pulled back. Forever. Because he will never see another title, will never be the position to play for one or even dream about it.
The swagger replaced by resignation and confusion. The brash voice now a small, quiet whisper. Nobody has his back. Nobody cares. Nobody wants to help. Not even his teammates.
He is all alone with his ego in the dark. And that is a fitting way to end his last years. Because that is how he wanted to play it his whole career.
Kobe, alone, vs the world.
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