Kobe Bryant: Man in the mirror
Since Kobe Bean Bryant entered the league in 96′ he’s been compared and competed with players such as Tracy McGrady, Vince Carter and Allen Iverson. All in their own rights damn good basketball players but none in the realm of Bryant. The Black Mamba has overcome a lot in his illustrious career.
Kobe arguably the mentally toughest athlete of all time will face his biggest challenge this year, himself.
With the acquisition of All-Stars Steve Nash and Dwight Howard the Lakers are once again in position to deliver Bryant his 6th NBA championship, but more importantly the Lakers 17th banner. As RealGM’s Jarrod Rudolph tweeted, “it’s about the franchise not just Bryant.”
As usual Mr. Rudolph hit the nail right on the head. Kobe needs to understand the team NEEDS him to win a championship, but not in the ways most think. L.A. doesn’t need Bryant to take ill-advised shots or force the issue offensively. They need his drive, willing to better teammates and basketball IQ.
Having said that, Kobe has a hard time trusting teammates in tight situations. Bryant needs to understand he isn’t surrounded by guys like Smush Parker and Luke Walton anymore, the team will only be as good as Kobe allows them to be.
“Sometimes you can want something so bad you want it too much and it slips away,” Kobe said after he shot 6 for 24 in game 7 of the 2010 NBA Finals against the Boston Celtics.
Those are words Bryant needs to live by for the next few seasons. In my personal opinion Nash and Howard wanted to be other places then Los Angeles but that could be a good thing. It’s about business, about etching their names in NBA history not friendships.
Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak couldn’t have picked two better stars to pair with Bryant. Nash is a leader of men, a guy that’s carried below average teams to the playoffs but no hardware to show for it. He can play good cop to Kobe’s (sometime over the top) bad cop.
As for Howard…we all know what he needs to accomplish. Dominate both ends of the floor like we’ve seen him do. Just like LeBron, Dwight will be booed and criticized like never before but with one championship those boos will quickly become cheers and slowly people will forget about the team he left in Orlando.
So while everyone talks about Kobe being just one away from Jordan the attitude in the Lakers locker room needs to be the team is one away from “17.” We all know what’s at stake for Bryant and so does he.
Kobe’s desire to win has never been questioned but his ability to trust teammates has. This season he can accomplish much more than a ring, he can write the ending to his own story by winning a way most don’t think he can.