Kobe Bryant is synonymous with Los Angeles Lakers basketball. The five-time champ helped revive SoCal’s favorite basketball squad back in the late 90s. With Kobe, the Lakers have been one of the NBA’s most exciting and well-disciplined teams.
Prolonged periods of greatness are expected. But the past two years have not been kind to Kobe Bryant, the NBA’s highest paid player at just over $30 million for the 2013-2014 season. Bryant also stands to make $48.5 million over the next two seasons.
However, the Lakers regular season success has nosedived. The 2012-2013 season saw Kobe go down and the team limped into the playoffs. The Lakers missed the playoffs altogether in 2014 and finished with an abysmal 27-55 record. Still, only one other NBA basketball team, LA’s bitter rival the Boston Celtics, has won more NBA championships.
And like their East Coast counterpart, the Lakers win-loss records over the past several years have slipped further and further down. Kobe’s injuries and other sidelined ballers, plus a lack of depth and a bruising Pacific Division schedule, are all partly to blame. A younger Kobe may have been able to will them to the playoffs last season, but at a hobbled 35-years-old, that’s wishful thinking.
But Bryant may have to exercise his facial muscles soon. According to ESPN Los Angeles, the perpetually frustrated guard is hopeful that marquee free agent cornerman Carmelo Anthony will join him on the left coast.
Melo currently plays for the Eastern Conference’s New York Knicks and has yet to win a title in his eleven NBA seasons. Going to “The Lake Show” would mark Melo’s return to the hyper-competitive Western Conference. The offense minded forward previously played for the Denver Nuggets.
Melo also played with Bryant during the Summer Olympics in 2008 and 2012. But times resulted in gold medals for the US team. That being said, Kobe Bryant already knows how Carmelo would play alongside him.
If Melo is to team up with Kobe, it would surely spice up a stagnant offense beset by injuries and old age. Bryant is among the injured and old, but he isn’t the only one. Two-time NBA MVP point guard Steve Nash has, literally, hamstrung the Lakers since his arrival in 2012.
To help get the Lakers over the hump, Kobe Bryant is keen on being coached by a solid veteran. Former “Showtime” Lakers shooting guard Byron Scott may just be the guy to lead LA back to the promised land if numerous reports turn out to be true.
ESPN LAcaught up with Kobe during guards youth basketball academy in LA. When asked about the exciting possibility of being coached by Scott during the next season and beyond, all Bryant could do was gush about the opportunity.
“I would love to play with him. We’ve really clicked since 2008, and I would love to see him out here [in Los Angeles].”
That’s a very positive response for the notoriously difficult to coach Kobe. Another reason Kobe Bryant wants Byron Scott as his coach is that they go way back.
“He was my rookie mentor when I first came into the league. So I had to do things like get his doughnuts and run errands for him and things like that. We’ve had a tremendously close relationship throughout the years. So, obviously I know him extremely well. He knows me extremely well. I’ve always been a fan of his.”
As a player, Scott won three titles in LA alongside legends of the game Ervin “Magic” Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. And by returning to the team, Scott would now get to manage his own set of legends in Bryant and Nash.
But the dramatic free agency moves needed to acquire Melo (or Kevin Love?) would have to be realized by Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak. Anything to appease the six foot five Kobe Bryant would be helpful especially this being the twilight of his career and all.
Yet, this holding pattern isn’t meant to go unfulfilled and Kobe Bryant is ready for the future of Laker basketball.
“The organization, if God forbid we end up with absolutely nothing, it’s not for a lack of effort. So, that’s something that I would be extremely proud of. You put forth the effort, you give it your best shot, but you can’t [close the deal], what can you do? You just go from there, and then it’s on me to go out there and do my best to try to help us win.”
There’s no question that if Carmelo, Kobe, and Steve Nash are all healthy, the Lakers would have a chance to be a contender in the West. But nothing is guaranteed and who knows if Kobe will be back to his old self.
[Photo courtesy of Newsday]