For Kobe Bryant it is deja-vu all over again

The Los Angeles Lakers 2006-2007 training camp began on October 3, 2006. Kobe Bryant was coming off a knee surgery. He missed, perhaps thankfully, the brutal Team USA World Championship run. He was clearly annoyed by the level of talent around him and essentially stopped playing in the second half of game seven against the Phoenix Suns, seemingly in protest. The inept Mitch Kup-cake, as he does every summer since his tenure began, made no signings of any real consequence, brining in journeymen Vladimir Radmanovich, Maurice Evans and Shammond Williams as the only key additions via free agency or trade. Despite all that, Kobe stayed positive and came into last season’s training camp ready to lead his rag-tag bunch of young ballers to the NBA promised land.

"We made some key additions with those guys," Bryant said then. "We turned some heads the way we performed last season. We were a very young team. We're still a young team. I think it will be exciting."
Of course, we all know that the following season didn’t turn out very exciting at all for the Lakers or their fans, as the team was ousted once again in the first round by the same Phoenix Suns. During the series, the young Lakers missed shots, committed turnovers and essentially frustrated Kobe, and Coach Phil Jackson, to no end.

Fast-forward to now...

So, here we are, with the Lakers 2007-2008 training camp about to get under way. This time around, Kobe isn’t talking anymore, his summer has been even more eventful, and surreal, than ever and Lakers fans are pulling their hair out, frustrated, yet again, by the lack of any significant player moves by the dysfunctional front-office and ownership. Is it really any wonder why Kobe Bryant seemed to have lost his mind earlier this summer? He has carried what is essentially an NBDL roster, or at best one of the least talented and athletic teams in the NBA, into the playoffs on his back for 2 straight seasons.

Of course, given the fact that Kobe is indeed showing up to camp, his 360 change of tactic from talk-radio regular to his monk-like vow of silence since, coupled with the barrage of “no comment” from Lakers management, seems to indicate that there has been some discussion behind the scenes with all parties involved in the soap opera. Unless Lakers management is even more inept than they seem, it’s fair to assume that Kobe, Phil, Jerry, Jim and Mitch, or some combination thereof, got on a conference call at some point late in the summer and agreed to disagree for the time being.

Really, the two sides are at an impasse – Kobe is bound to the Lakers by the 2 years left on his contract before he can opt out and Jerry Buss and ownership is bound to Kobe by mandate of the Lakers fans that pay so many thousands of dollars to sit courtside and watch #24 play. Given this scenario, as we had speculated earlier, it makes sense for both sides to resume business as usual, or as usual as possible given the circumstances.

Kobe, we’re sure, in collusion with Phil Jackson, has given the Lakers management an ultimatum. Whether that ultimatum runs out at the February trade deadline, next summer or in 2 years, we’re not sure. But, one thing we are sure of is that Lakers management, Kup-cake included, know that this is their last shot with Kobe. If the Lakers aren’t successful next year, or if management isn’t able to bring in solid, veteran talent soon to run with Kobe, “Black Mamba’s” days in a Lakers uniform is severely numbered.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

If the Lakers don't do well in the first half of the season...watch out! Kobe, and his poisonous ego, will cause a lot of problems for the Lakers.