Is Kobe Bryant Really To Blame For The Lakers’ Recent Lack Of Success?
After dealing with a series of leg injuries over the course of the last year, Kobe Bryant is finally ready to return to the Lakers‘ lineup this season in order to restore some order in Los Angeles. And after the debacle that was the 2013-14 NBA season, that should be great news for Lakers fans, right? Right. However, the Lakers have a bit of a controversy on their hands right now thanks to a new ESPN The Magazine article that places a lot of the blame for the Lakers’ recent lack of success squarely on the shoulders of—you guessed it—Kobe Bryant. The story, which you can read here, insinuates that Kobe is the reason the Lakers are one of the worst franchises in the NBA right now and why there’s some real concern surrounding the future of the team.
So what did Kobe do that was so bad? Well, nothing and everything at the same time. Unfortunately, just about all of the quotes that are featured in the ESPN The Mag piece are from anonymous sources and agents, who say things like, “Kobe is like the big rock in [the Lakers'] front yard. You can’t mow over it, so you just have to mow around it.”
The general feeling that ESPN The Mag got from just about all of those sources was that Kobe has made it incredibly difficult for the Lakers to surround him with talent. He has chased stars away and even forced middle-of-the-pack players like Ramon Sessions to chose the Charlotte Bobcats (now the Charlotte Hornets) over the Lakers in free agency, simply because they didn’t like the idea of playing with Kobe. And Kobe has reportedly done little to change the culture. Instead, he’s added fuel to the fire by refusing to play nice with his teammates and making it hard for the Lakers to land prize free agents.
When asked about the piece this week, Kobe shrugged it off and basically said that, by next week, no one will be talking about the story. And he’s probably right. The 24/7 sports new cycle will push the ESPN The Mag story out of the spotlight within the next day or two and we will all move on to something else.
But will the story take a toll on Kobe’s legacy? There’s no questioning his competitiveness or his talent on the basketball court. But this isn’t the first time people have blamed Kobe for hurting the Lakers’ franchise. So this story could add a blemish to his résumé and make people look at him a little bit differently in the future. They’ll wonder what might have been if Kobe hadn’t done some of the things that people say he did with regards to his teammates and free agents. And they might even blame him for driving the Lakers’ franchise into the ground towards the end of his career.
What did you think about the ESPN The Magazine piece on Kobe Bryant? Do you think ESPN could have handled it differently, or do you think Kobe deserved all of the criticism that he received in the story? Let us know.