So this recent road trip was a complete disaster going 2-3. Phil had said before the trip that 4-1 would be good but that's not what champions aspire for. Clearly still this team hasn't woken up. As mentioned in numerous previous posts, at this point of the season it's not that they haven't woken up. Our Lakers, as much as we get antsy rooting for them when they're not playing 100%, have struggled offensively. People have said things like the addition of Artest, bench struggles, Pau's inconsistency (and missing a lot of games), and the overall health of the team. Injuries have wreaked havoc starting from our superstar.
Everyone knows Kobe has dropped off from his MVP status in the first half of the season before the injury. All things considered, people were saying that Kobe was the clear-cut MVP with his game winners and the Lakers playing great ball before Christmas. I'm not sure the exact record post-xmas but I know that it's been a little above avg to Lakers' standards.
I just watched the fanshot that shaqfor3 posted. I miss that team with the swagger and killer instinct; the offense would click on all cylinders, it just looked like they had FUN playing ball, ya know? Those teams (or should I say last year's team) it seems to me were on a mission dedicated from the start of the season and being consistent. Everyone was focused in proving something and was playing with a chip on their shoulder.
This scene with Kobe and Pau on the bench in the 4th quarter in blowouts has rarely been seen. (did we even have one this year? lol)
Now this year, it's the season to repeat and defend. I clearly think some of these players are way too complacent with just taking it all last year. With the exception of Kobe, Pau, and LO, I don't see consistent signs from the other guys on a nightly basis saying that we want to win every time. Why don't these other dudes have any incentives to keep wanting to win and win and win and not get sick of it. One title is not enough; you have Kobe friggin Bryant on the team. The hunger is everlasting.
This team just seems way too satisfied with last year's title. Yeah, the Lakers of 00-01 had an 11-game dropoff (56-26) from the first team of the 3peat who went 67-15. Maybe history shows us how consistency can be hard to maintain. In general, repeating a championship is so difficult in all of professional sports, but those that do manage to do so stand out from the other champs. Spurs winning 3 titles in alternating years from '03 to '07 obviously doesn't have the same ring to it as the 3 peat champs. I would say even back-to-back titles are remembered more than alternating.
So that's my rant of this Lakers team. I want to focus this article on Kobe and his legacy. Kobe is 31. He came straight out of high school, already has a lot of mileage on him and already in his 14th season. As we have seen in this season, the prominent prep-to-pros (Garnett, McGrady, and Jermaine, though Jermaine's kinda sucked since he left Indy) have aged as if 30 was the new 40. Kobe clearly knows this as he has also fallen victim of a myriad of injuries. He's playing through them. This is what separates him from KG and T-Mac. Kobe's mentality is unparalleled and his love for the game transcends all.
Part of me says he's playing through them because of his love and another part because he would know how the media would be quick to judge how he (being the prep-to-pros) has fallen to the dreadful list of those who have quickly aged. However, I do know that KG and Tracy have gone down because their knees no longer exist and Kobe has not had a severe knee injury (knock on wood). He's dealt with injuries from that index finger and the other fingers he's opted NOT to do surgery on, his back, ankle, etc, but if he took an extended period of time off (like 15+ games), the media would be all over him and then of course immediately put LeBron on that pedestal in being the alpha dog saying that Kobe is too "old" and other bs.
Ever since the Colorado incident, Kobe has done so much to rebuild his image and cement his legacy as one of the top 15 greatest players ever (or top 10 depending on your POV): 1 MVP, 1 finals mvp and championship, 2 scoring titles, 81 pt game, 62 in 3 quarters, 4 straight 50+ games, garnering more all-nba and all-defensive honors, etc. He has been the alpha dog (and still is today) since I would say the 02-03 season. Remember in this year's all-star game, Kobe not LBJ got the loudest ovation from the fans.
Just imagine how the general fan would view Kobe once the media would be all over his nuts saying that Kobe's too old and cannot play due to his injuries, etc. and that he's on his decline. To me it would be devastating. Kobe, being the incredibly smart person he is, knows the possibilities. As mentioned before, his killer instinct and love for the game drive him on. I know Kobe is FAR from being done. He'll need to rest big time after this year regardless of what happens (championship or not) and then show everyone that the healthy Black Mamba reigns supreme over this league.
Kobe's legacy will be strengthened with more championships. One more, and he ties our beloved Magic. Two more, and ties Air. Three more and the debates will become fiery and chaotic over who the greatest 2-guard is; some will say 7 (or more) rings triumphs the 6 as the main basis for their argument (since people having been saying MJ 6 to Kobe's 4) though I still think regardless His Airness will be the greatest ever. What MJ did for the game of basketball was revolutionary. That's a whole different argument that I will not go into. I'll leave it in a poll.
Anyways, I just hope as C.A. said in that the Lakers will get that luck back along with waking up. It's a new season in the playoffs and the more important one. Hopefully the Lakers will return and tear shit up and repeat or 1-up what the 00-01 lakers did by going 16-0. Who knows, anything is possible.
Bleh, this is my first FanPost so I'm sorry if you feel I'm all over the place, but cut me some slack. :]