While Kobe proves his commitment, former Laker Jerry West chimes in on the Bryant trade rumors

If you listened to the chatter around the Internet, popular opinion seemed to be that Kobe Bryant will put away all ill-will and bring it like a pro when the ball tips off. Of course, popular opinion doesn’t mean squat until Kobe plays his first regular season game. Coasting through the pre-season as he had done may be justifiable, but no one knew how much of a distraction Kobe would be until he stepped onto the court against the Houston Rockets on opening night. We were curiously watching Kobe’s body language, on the floor and on the bench. Did he seem engaged, or would the unbearable weight of a tumultuous summer and the awkward scenario that brings him into the season distract Kobe during the games that count?

For all Los Angeles fans watching the team lose a really close one to the Houston Rockets 95-93, one where Kobe controlled the game with 45 points, 8 boards and 4 steals, that question received a resoundingly positive answer. While Kobe seemed a little slow in chasing Tracy McGrady around picks and didn't shoot the ball particularly well, his game generally seemed to be in mid-season form. Kobe proved once again, that despite adversity, his on-court game will remain unaffected. He proved that he is indeed the consummate professional on the floor (off it, not so much). And of course, he still had to carry the Lakers squad on his shoulders offensively, but that's a conversation for another time.

The more central question still remains. And that is, whether Kobe Bryant will remain a member of the Los Angeles Lakers, and for how long. On this point, the opinion-makers are more fragmented. The “Kobe will go” camp seems to be just as vocal and strong in numbers as the “Kobe will stay” side. Of course, most of those opinions are rumors and innuendo, and don’t really mean a whole lot in the real world. But, in the sea of opinions there are a few worth listening to. One is when former Los Angeles Lakers guard and General Manager Jerry West chimes in on the Kobe Bryant saga.

Speaking to former ESPN-ite Dan Patrick on his new radio show West seemed to make it clear that he didn’t think Kobe Bryant would be traded any time soon. West said that the Lakers needed the star power of Kobe Bryant to fill the high-dollar seats at Staples Center -- Kobe being a chip that, when push comes to shove, owner Jerry Buss is probably not willing to give up. He also felt that other GMs around the league may themselves be hesitant in trading for Kobe Bryant, because of the mileage he has accumulated, having played 11 regular seasons in the league and participating in several long post-season runs. He questioned why another GM would trade their top young talent for the relatively old-at-29 Kobe Bryant.

When asked by Patrick, point blank, if he thought Kobe would be with the Lakers at the end of this year, West didn’t mince words in saying, “Yes, Kobe will be with the Los Angeles Lakers.” It’s still one man’s opinion of course, but when it’s the venerable Jerry West speaking we tend to listen.


Anonymous said...

Mark my words. Kobe isn't getting traded anytime soon!

Anonymous said...

Kobe ain't going to the Bulls.