Although Kobe Bryant didn’t make the trip to New York for the NBA’s All-Star weekend, he has played alongside a number of All-Stars throughout his time with the Los Angeles Lakers.
Even as a teammate with some of the game’s best players, there were no doubts about what role he envisioned for himself. Bryant reiterated his desire to be in charge with three words during an interview with Ahmad Rashad that aired Monday evening:
I’m no sidekick.”
Bryant has won five NBA titles during his time with the Lakers, but only earned Finals MVP only twice as Shaquille O’Neal took the honors while the duo led the Lakers in the early 2000’s. The two split up years later after the Lakers traded O’Neal away.
It took Bryant a couple of years to win his first title without O’Neal and his first Finals MVP when the Lakers defeated the Orlando Magic in 2009. Winning without O’Neal appeared to give Bryant’s career a new legitimacy as he was the unquestioned leader of those championship teams.
With Bryant having his third consecutive season cut short as a result of injury, there have been concerns over his future. He will be the league’s highest paid player, but will be needing plenty of help. Even in the twilight of his career, Bryant doesn’t see himself stepping down for another and wants to compete on his terms.[divide]