Today’s main basketball headline of the day, reported by Adrian Wojnarowski, is that in 2007 the Lakers had a deal in place to send Kobe Bryant to the Detroit Pistons. Kobe, after previously requesting to be traded, decided to use his no-trade clause and remain in Los Angeles. In retrospect, this was obviously the right choice. A few months later the Lakers robbed the Grizzlies of Pau Gasol, helping catapult Mr. Bryant & the Lakers to 2 titles in 3 years.
Today, in 2013, however, the Lakers need to get rid of Kobe Bryant.
The reason the Lakers are 4 games under .500 and 10th in the West is because of Kobe. The reason Dwight Howard hasn’t been the player he was in Orlando is because of Kobe. The reason Steve Nash, a 2 time league MVP, is a shell of himself this season is because of Kobe. The reason Mike Brown is unemployed and Mike D’ Antoni can’t get a hold of his team is because of Kobe. The reason Pau Gasol tore a muscle in his foot is, you guessed it, because of Kobe (that last one’s a joke… but you get my point).
I’m not saying Kobe Bryant should be traded because he’s not a good player. He’s one of the top 10 players ever to play the game of basketball. The reason the Lakers should trade him is because of his ego.
To be the best, you need championships. Kobe Bryant understands this, and said as such this weekend. But for Kobe, winning championships has nothing to do with his teammates, or the Lakers, or the fans. This is all about Kobe, and therein lies the problem.
Statistically Kobe is having one of his best seasons ever. That’s quite a feat considering he’s 34 years old and played over 1,400 games in his illustrious career (between the regular season & playoffs).
The problem with Bryant’s 12-13 campaign though, is what’s been happening beyond the stat sheet.
Imagine this years Lakers team as a 1961 Ferrari 250 GT (pictured above). Yeah it’s old, but it reminds you of a classic. It’s gotta fresh paint job (Howard), a classic, speedy & effective engine (Nash), a tough windshield that can’t be broken (World Peace), and a tire that popped but shouldn’t be too hard to replace (Gasol, Earl Clark). When you look inside to see who’s in the drivers seat, there’s our friend Kobe. He’s revving the engine and blasting “Victory” by P. Diddy & Biggie. He’s got it on repeat. There’s a picture of MJ on to the dash. D’ Antoni’s sitting in the passenger seat, trying to get Kobe’s attention, but he won’t listen. He’s got his mean face on and it’s not going away. Then, as if he was possessed, Kobe steps on the gas screaming “I’M THE GREATEST!” and drives the Ferrari into a pole.
I know it’s almost unfathomable to think of the Lakers actually trading Kobe and him accepting the deal (he still has a no-trade clause in his contract), but let me try to put it in perspective for you. Imagine you’ve had a certain best friend for a long time. You’ve known each other since you were kids. You’ve practically grown up together, for God’s sake. This certain friend has been with you for the good (which there’s been a lot of) and some of the bad. Things have been getting pretty shitty lately; this friend of yours keeps scaring off some of your new friends and making them feel uncomfortable. He’s even making fun of them to people around the neighborhood. This friend can be a real jerk sometimes. You know how much this certain friend of yours has meant to you over the years, but you’re starting to consider that it’s time to make a change. You like your new friends a lot and don’t want to ruin what you have with them. You think in the future you could all be really happy together. What do you do in this situation? Do you get rid of your new friends, just because you’re afraid to stick up for yourself and cut ties with this old friend of yours? I say no. I say you tell this old friend of yours that you’re sick of them and you don’t want them around anymore. If they won’t leave and start to get angry, hold your ground and tell ‘em the truth: it’s over & you think it’s time to move on. Eventually they’ll get the point and go away.
I know this article is a little ridiculous, and there’s probably a .0000001 chance that Kobe actually gets traded (if that), but before you completely write it off, think back to the summer of 2004. The Lakers had just lost the Finals to the Pistons, and their two superstars, the still-in-his-prime-but-getting-older Shaquille O’Neal, and the budding young superstar Kobe, just couldn’t coexist anymore. In the offseason they traded O’Neal, the man who guided them to 3 titles, in favor of their younger star, Mr. Bryant. Things ended up working just great for both of them: Shaq won a title in 2006 with the Heat, and Kobe eventually led the Lakers to 2 more in 2008 & 2009.
Now, think about today. The Lakers have a team that is failing, a young and old superstar that aren’t able to coexist, and teams that would still give an arm and a leg for their older star. Will the Lakers trade Kobe Bryant? Probably not. Should they? Absolutely.