Never before in the incredible history and tradition of the Los Angeles Lakers have we had so much drama in Hollywood. The latest episode in the City of Angels – soap operas on Figueroa Street and near Staples Center – is that the Lakers inept management is hearing it from their franchise star and, yes, the Black Mamba is talking and ripping his bosses.
It’s common and not surprising and slightly evident that Kobe Bryant is frustrated with the Lakers front office, this hysteria swirling around a maladroit organization suddenly plunging into darkness and fading out of the public eye. The superstar guard blasted his bosses for their inertia on trade talks, telling swarms of reporters that the Pau Gasol trade rumors are drawing distractions, in which the lanky, tall seven-footer is struggling with all the disruptions of late in the middle of hearsay that has emasculated the Lakers – to be exact. The promise of inheriting championships has shrunk to a greater sense and – more than anything it seems – the Lakers are engulfed in an uproar, with this entire uprising surrounding the second-most popular franchise in sports. The trade rumors are all talk right now, and Bryant is tired of the conversations that have circulated at the beginning of the season.
“I wish management would come out and either trade him or not trade him,” Bryant said crossly after the Lakers’ 102-90 loss Sunday. “It’s just tough for a player to give his all when you don’t know if you’re going to be here tomorrow. I’d rather them not trade him at all, but if they’re going to do something, I wish they would just … do it.”
He’s very candid and furious with the Buss family. This is not to dwell over the recent struggles, giving the folks in L.A. every reason to panic. The veteran guard – once a spoiled, selfish brat, now arguably the best player of our generation – is standing up to management, unafraid to lash out about the mishandling and indiscretion within a team that must revamp if they wish to contend for another championship. And eventually, the Busses will have to listen to Bryant’s words and must be driven in changing the culture to please a superstar’s soul before he requests a trade out of Los Angeles, unhappy and disillusioned with the team’s inaction of entertaining offers for Gasol.
For a team annihilated by old and sluggish bodies with a new head coach in Mike Brown, who is pressured to follow the footsteps of the legendary Phil Jackson and inspire a demanding franchise by preaching the significance of defense, Bryant is aware of the Gasol’s lackluster effort and the dispirited nature in the team’s locker room. In another insane twist, Bryant is using a strategy and psychological approach in pushing management to either make a deal or publicly put a halt to whispers of potential moves. This is a way to rid all the disruptions that has had an effect on the Lakers of late, all while Kobe is jaded and mad with the mistreatment of his teammate, Gasol, who is thrust in a tough position – unsure of what the future beholds for him in Los Angeles.
“If they’re not going to do it, come out and say you’re not going to do it,” Bryant said. “This way, he can be comfortable and go out and can perform and play and he can invest all of himself into the game. You can’t have one of our pillars not knowing if he’s going to be here or not. Do something. One way or another, do something.”
The residual results of what we are seeing in Los Angeles is, in reality, disappearing and – if one player realizes it – it’s Bryant, a man who hates to lose and enjoys to compete for a title each season, aiming for his sixth NBA championship ring to tie the all-time great, Michael Jordan. But he can’t accomplish that goal if the Busses fail to surround him with a deep supporting cast. He’s only getting older, not any younger – a clutch, dependable shooter in his prime and still has enough left to play for more championships. Seems that he’s trying to dictate and persuade the Buss family to bring a couple of rejuvenated stars for creating star power and adding enough depth.
He’s unsatisfied again now, the self-proclaimed Black Mamba, on a mission to raise more championship banners inside Staples Center and would most definitely welcome in Gilbert Arenas, Allen Iverson or Dwight Howard, fresh-bodied players with hungry winning mentalities. Is there someone, anyone, who can make that happen? This would be a good time, not to mention an important moment to satisfy Kobe, so that he doesn’t ask for a divorce that would create Hollywood drama, no doubt, for the Buss family to take advice from their star guard and upgrade the Lakers current roster.
We have heard about how the Lakers ownership are stubborn-minded when it comes to making moves for the betterment of the team, whether Jerry Buss and his son, Jim, is too damn cheap to bring on board a quality, high-profile star that can have a powerful impact on the Lakers and alleviate much pressure off Bryant. If a trade should happen anytime soon, I guess, general manager Mitch Kupchak, including his boss, Jim, were actively working the phones in order to pursue the trophy. It’s evident that the current team we are looking at now, in a business of silence and poor judgment from management, is in a state of perplexity and Bryant had the decency to step up as a team captain and call out the businessmen issuing him his paycheck.
The trading deadline is March 15, and Kobe is asking the Lakers to either keep Gasol here or trade him elsewhere, coming to the defense of a seven-footer who helped L.A. win a pair of championships. It’s just the business aspect of it all, but the Lakers agenda remains uncertain – unsure of what their intentions are moving forward, although they are pursuing in acquiring Howard from Orlando and even a point guard that they so desperately need to fill the toughest position in basketball. In all the years of basketball, here in the origin of L.A., the Lakers have owned the spotlight but these days the Clippers are getting more attention, after acquiring Chris Paul shortly after he was on his way to the Lakers in a trade that was shot down by the league and NBA commissioner David Stern.
We can only hope that Kobe doesn’t divorce the Lakers, and reconcile with his bosses, like he did with his wife Vanessa after separating and then was seen kissing her on Valentine’s Day. What’s happening with the Lakers is that the team is no longer relevant, no longer a first-rate team in a city that is normally engaged with purple and gold, but not as of now, even if Bryant leads the league in scoring.
Is this the end? Kobe is beginning to panic, and his team is not what it used to be, slowly vanishing in the twilight age. Suddenly, he realizes that but the Busses don’t see it, or just in denial. The dysfunction, the lack of confidence, the failure to dismiss the humiliation from last season’s playoff loss to the Dallas Mavericks is what the Lakers are living with, until the Buss family assemble a consistent team to erase all the dreadful moments in the past.
Right now, it seems the Lakers are forgotten. Bryant sees it, if no one else does.