Kobe Bryant: The NBA’s Kevin Ware
For all the competitive spirit, grittiness, and rivalry in sports, one of the most compelling parts of any victory or defeat is the narrative. In a franchise as storied as the Lakers, many narratives have been told on basketball’s biggest stage and now, in the most unlikely of scenarios, is a chance to tell yet another tale.
This tale would parallel that of college basketball’s Kevin Ware of the Louisville Cardinals, who crash-landed his way into infamy not quite a month ago with the gruesome injury that ended his season.
His team not only went on to win that game, they were so inspired by their fallen teammate that they created an entire #WinForWare campaign. The team went on to do just that, winning the NCAA championship, which led to this great photo-op.
In this case, the Los Angeles Lakers wouldn’t be in the playoffs if it weren’t for the night-after-night heroics of Kobe Bryant, who went down earlier this month with a torn ACL which is expected to take nine months to heal. What better way for this team to show its appreciation to the man who got them back into contention after a dismal season than to win it all? The odds are against them, of course, but never underestimate the power of narrative to motivate a group of people.
Don’t believe me? Ask Ray Lewis. The Lakers now have a common cause to unite them: the fallen #24.
Also, consider this – Kobe has been called many things on the basketball court, but a motivator is not really one of them. We’ve seen him basically coach the team on the floor, but the question is, can he really motivate his teammates to believe enough in their own abilities to win a ring without him? The answer is, he’ll have no choice but to develop some motivational skills. If he can prove valuable to the team in that way, it’d be his most challenging (and rewarding, I suspect) NBA title ever.
Finally, the Lakers are in the most advantageous position possible for their first round after a really tough season. The San Antonio Spurs are old and fairly slow, just like the Lakers, and have shown quite a few chinks in the armor. In one of the last games of the season, the Lakers, sans Kobe, beat the Spurs. They have proven they can win, now it’s up to them to get the job done. #WinForKobe