Kobe Bryant is perhaps the most criticized figure in sports today. Anything that Kobe says or does gets over-analyzed by television sportscasters, journalists, and fans across the country. He either shoots too much or passes too much. No matter what he does, his critics are never satisfied and cast a negative spin on Kobe Bryant. The stones thrown at Kobe by his critics are unwarranted and malicious more often than not. Those critics, however, are correct when they frown upon Kobe’s recent media tour.
Since the Phoenix Suns eliminated the Los Angeles Lakers from the NBA playoffs, Kobe has told anyone that will listen about his frustrations with the Lakers’ upper management. At the press conference that followed game five of the Lakers’ opening round series, Kobe expressed that he ‘needed help.’ In the following weeks, Kobe has blasted his team’s front office for not having a winning mentality. He cited the Lakers’ inability to secure stars such as Carlos Boozer, Baron Davis and Jason Kidd as evidence. He then went on to suggest that former General Manager, Jerry West, return to the club. His frustrations would eventually escalate and lead to a trade demand, a request that was later toned down after Bryant had cooled.
Kobe Bryant’s assertions that the Lakers’ front office has been asleep at the switch are absolutely correct, but his approach to the situation is wrong.
There are two options for the Los Angeles Lakers. They can trade away Kobe Bryant, the game’s best player and only marketable member of their roster. Or, they can keep Kobe and try to bring in some much needed help. Either way, the Los Angeles Lakers and Kobe Bryant stand to lose from Bryant’s public outbursts. That is unless Kobe Bryant truly wants to be traded.
If the Lakers make a push to bring in better personnel, their bargaining power has been compromised. Kobe’s comments are reflective of a team that is desperate. This will inevitably lead to the Lakers having to sweeten the pot on any deal they may pursue. In the trading environment that is created by the NBA’s salary cap, this will cause the Lakers to have to include draft picks in a trade that would not have been necessary or take back a bad contract in a trade that they wouldn’t have had to.
It will be hard enough for the Lakers to make bold off-season moves. Their best trading pieces, Kwame Brown and Lamar Odom, have had significant surgeries that may scare off potential suitors. The Lakers have shown major reservations about trading their young center, Andrew Bynum and they don’t have a particularly high draft pick to use as trade bait. .
It is difficult to imagine that Kobe really wants to be traded. He grew up a fan of the Lakers, Magic Johnson was his favorite player as a child, he won three championships early in his career with the team, and his family enjoys Los Angeles. During his radio interviews, you could sense the frustration and pain in his voice. If he has come to the conclusion that he simply wants out of Los Angeles, he wouldn’t sound so torn.
Chances are, the Lakers will enter next season as much of a mess as they ended this season. Whether they are with or without Kobe Bryant remains to be seen. But if Kobe’s heart is in Los Angeles, as it seems to be, he needs to leave his thoughts in his head.