Kobe’s Last Stand

I have this friend with whom I used to tend bar for about four years.

Having worked there long before I ever stepped foot in the joint, Mr. K was a mainstay.  Servers would come and go and he would barely pay them any mind.  It wasn’t that he was a dick, although he had his moments.  He just didn’t see the need to get personally attached to anyone who was a) going to be hired and fired in a matter of weeks b) wasn’t going to care or bring as much value to the place as he did.

Kobe artNow I’m sure my friend would be flattered that I’m about to compare his antics to Kobe Bryant but that is exactly what’s going on in Los Angeles.

In a recent press conference, the local and national media were invited to interview the newest Los Angeles Lakers: Roy Hibbert, Brandon Bass and Lou Williams.  One reporter who couldn’t possibly have foreseen how outstanding a response his question would elicit asked if any of the new signees had heard from Kobe Bryant.

Silence.  Not even the crickets were making noise.

Now, perhaps Kobe was busy.  I mean, I’m sure he’s got important things to do.  Perhaps he’s focused on next season, which for all intents and purposes should be his last, barring any catastrophic Brett Favre-like “I’m back” retirements.  But Kobe could still have reached out, yea?  I mean, I know he’s convinced he’s the greatest player of this generation (#TimDuncan) but even Carmelo Anthony shot Kristap Porzingis a text welcoming his new teammate to New York.

I guess that’s just not how Kobe rolls.

This is going to be an odd year for Lakers fans.  Kobe Bryant is essentially Dead Man Walking.  At an old 37, considering the mileage he’s got on those legs, there’s no way he’ll be able to play at the level he’s accustomed.  But there’s also no way he’s not going to demand minutes… and shots.

Do the Los Angeles Lakers still want Kobe Bryant leading that team in shot attempts?

As Michael Jordan aged, he adjusted his game, a little more passing, a little less shot taking, ensuring his body wasn’t getting beaten down.  Having only played in 41 games the last two seasons, it is imperative that Kobe make those same adjustments.  Perhaps he hasn’t found anyone on his roster he trusts enough to pass the ball too.  To his defense, the Lakers roster has been pretty vapid lately.

That won’t be the case this year.  They’ll have some nice young talent, not enough to compete for a playoff spot but enough to at least do a little damage.  And if you disagree about that whole playoff thing, which I’m sure some of you will (Bleed, Dub, G Mony), that’s just your unabashed and disillusioned Laker homerism shining through.  More power to you guys.

Kareem Abdul Jabbar PortraitI remember Kareem Adbul-Jabbar’s last year in the league.  Every road arena he visited hosted a ceremony celebrating his career.  One team bought him a boat.  Another franchise awarded him a nice jazz collection on compact disc, back when people listened to compact discs.  And Kareem wasn’t even all that well-liked.  He was standoffish at best.  Kobe, while equally as admired, is perhaps even less liked.

So what we’re about to see this year will be a total side show, remembrances of what Kobe Bryant was:  an assassin, a champion, a ruthless competitor and yes, a dick.

As the NBA ushers out the old and in the new, Kobe Bryant will ride off into the sunset looking for the next big thing that all obsessively competitive athletes must find to appease their nature.

And yes, the Lakers will live on in his absence.  They’re just going to have to wait another full season to do so.

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18 Replies to “Kobe’s Last Stand”

  1. Kobe’s last stand might be as bad as General Custer’s at the Battle of Little Big Horn . There’s said to be an icy relationship between he and number of his teammates at present , and it’s nothing new as far as that premise goes. Nothing else needs to be said at this juncture.

  2. Interesting spin PEP, even though I don’t know your Mr. K. It seems that everybody nowadays, has an opinion on what socially acceptable behavior should be. Granted the preferred story line would be Kobe reaching out to say hello…blah,blah, blah…Then come the follow up questions, (if he had made contact), about what did he say to you? blah blah, blah…and the interview becomes about Kobe rather than keeping the focus on the newbies.
    If you think about it, did you get a call from the veterans you work with welcoming you when you first started or did it come when you should up to work? Personally, as a die hard Laker fan, I’m perfectly ok with knowing or not whether Kobe extended a welcoming hand. There will be plenty of time for that, when they show up to work, (camp).

  3. It sucks because Kobe was such a competitor. The greatest attribute Jordan ever had was the “not in my house” chip in his shoulder. Kobe has that but at times confuses confidence with cockiness. Kobe has a chance to shed a little light on some young careers in a time when free agency and a show me the money attitude trumps loyalty. Shame on Kobe who could solidify a legacy instead of Hulk Hoganing it down the toilet.

  4. SC
    As you know, my Neice was friend with Kobe in high school, so I have been a fan ever since.
    I have also been disappointed that his character could never match up to his talent. He was lucky he didn’t end up in a Colorado jail after his Cosbyesque fiasco years ago!
    As a player, he thrived under Phil Jackson, but then he apparently forget the life and court side lessons laid down by the zen master.
    It is such a shame!

  5. Is that what they’re calling it, Al? Icy?

    This season, Kobe has a chance to show us what kind of player, and teammate, he can truly be. I get that you can’t convince the guy that this team doesn’t have what it takes to win a championship but is he going to bow out gracefully and allow the new breed to shine or is he going to put up a Carmelo-like 25 shots a game and bark at his teammates when they don’t do what he tells them to?

    I think you can still chase a title and involve your team while doing so. Heck, isn’t that how championships are won in the first place?

  6. Don’t get me wrong, G.

    I’m not suggesting Kobe send ’em a fruit basket or anything. But the guy does kind of have the track record of being a dick.

    Let’s see what happens the first few times these guys blow an assignment, how he responds and how they respond to him.

    I guess what I’m interested in finding out is who’s team is this now? Is Byron Scott going to be able to run things and keep things copacetic?

    I think someone should really write a book on the inside of this year’s Laker locker room. That’d be something I’d read for sure.

  7. Look at Big Jeff taking time out of his busy beach-slinging schedule to chime in with a comment.

    Much appreciated.

    Welcome to the fracas.

    And is Hulk Hogan now a verb? God help us all if that’s the case. As in, I didn’t like that my daughter was dating a black guy so I Hulk Hoganned.

    Like I mentioned earlier, Kobe has a chance to ride off into the sunset with class. And to be honest, I still think that can happen.

    I just wouldn’t be entirely surprised if it didn’t.

  8. PJD…

    You’re probably still on Kobe’s 12th year in the league, what with you hitting the pause button and all.

    Oh, come on, you know that was good.

    Here’s the thing. Kobe grew up around the league. He traveled the world. So instead of that giving him a better understanding of others, it kind of gave him this sense of entitlement.

    I can’t help but wonder if this might not be his last year after all.

    Brett Favre, the consiglieiri.

  9. Thanks Kob, it’s been a hell of a ride.

    From the get go, you just knew the kid would be something special.

    As a person, he left a lot to be desired…As a basketball player, there were none that were as dedicated to their craft. He’s aloof, arrogant and can be callous, but I will miss watching him fill up the basket.

    Hopefully he can adjust his game and help pave the way for the next generation of D’Angelo Russell, Julius Randle and Jordan Clarkson usher in the next era of Lakers basketball smoothly by tempering his alpha dog ways…But I wouldn’t hold my breath. He is what he is.

    I don’t expect much from the Lakers this year…Certainly not playoffs, though there is an outside chance they could qualify.

    Al I want is the youngsters to play well enough to entice a big fish free agent or two to come to LA…Kobe’s swan song is secondary to me.

    I’m more about the name on the front of the jersey than the back.

  10. It’ll be an interesting year, that’s for sure, Bleed.

    Like I said, I think Kobe has it in him to lead… and pass on the reins. If HE cares more about the name on the front of the jersey, he’ll ensure that happens.

    It’ll be fun to watch. Let’s hope it has a happy ending.

  11. At best , I can’t see the Lakers winning more than thirty games if that. It certainly won’t guarantee them a postseason berth. Dropped some new joints if at all interested . Sent the details as usual via e mail .

  12. I’m betting Kobe has to be completely gone before the real “team-building” can begin. Not saying they can’t win enough to sneak into the playoffs because all pick-ups they get will play hard to boost their stock, but I can’t see a cohesive unit as long as Kobe stays. He has had a chance for years to be inclusive to both stars and the grunts on his teams & has never even tried except to give lip service to the media about how all work together. Just my opinion.

  13. So Winter Haven’s Adrien Berto will have the privilege of being Floyd Mayweather’s next tomato can (opponent ) ? Money Mayweather, must love making that cheddar, while whupping up on meaningless @ssholes who call themselves fighters.

  14. I think that’s definitely the consensus, Moose.

    Like I said, that relationship between he and Coach By will be key if this team wants to succeed or fail.

    I don’t think they want to just write off the season.

  15. That presser where those guys had no idea how to respond was a classic moment in sports journalism. Kobe is busy 24/7 trying to figure out how to remain relevant. At this point that is a full-time job with little chance of success. I am sorry to see the guy go out this way. Would have liked to see him walk away without a limp. However, I also wholeheartedly agree the Lakers don’t start the road back until he hits the road.

  16. Exactly, Burnsy.

    I would imagine there’s no way a journalist, or perhaps there is, can sense a moment like that, knowing what kind of response your question your draw.

    Most journalists these days don’t know shit anyway.

    Does anyone else here wonder whether Kobe has talked to these guys yet? I mean, Bass and Hibbert are no slouches.

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