In a perfect world, Kobe Bryant would still have Phil Jackson on the sidelines calling the shots for the Los Angeles Lakers. Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom and Derek Fisher would still be wearing purple and gold with potentially a few more championship banners hanging in the rafters in the Staples Center.
Unfortunately, all four of these former Lakers have headed in drastically different directions since Los Angeles won their 16th NBA title back over the rival Boston Celtics in 2010.
And now seven games into his 19th NBA season, Kobe leads a group of journeyman in Los Angeles with a former teammate taking the reigns as the new head coach of the storied franchise. The future Hall of Famer can only hope for the best in the twilight of his career while having to witness the San Antonio Spurs continue to be successful with the same head coach and superstar running the show.
According to Bill Oram of the OC Register, Kobe praises the Spurs longevity during their championship runs with Gregg Popovich and Tim Duncan:
Kobe: "It would be like if me, Pau, L.O., D-Fish and Phil, we all were just here. Still. It’s crazy. That longevity is freaking crazy."
— Bill Oram (@billoram) November 13, 2014
Although anything can happen during this season and the next to change the team’s chances of competing, the writing seems to be on the wall in Los Angeles. Kobe will likely play out the last two years of his deal and walk away from the game as one of the greatest players in NBA history with five titles to his credit.
There’s no question that winning a sixth title to tie Michael Jordan’s mark would be the icing on the cake for Kobe. Even Duncan is gunning for Jordan at this point. Unfortunately, the immediate future for the Lakers doesn’t seem all that promising without a major move being made.
If any team in the league were able to pull off a blockbuster move to immediately change the direction of the franchise it would be the Lakers. Acquiring Gasol back in 2008 was a game-changer that resulted in consecutive titles for Los Angeles, but it remains to be seen if a similar move can be made with a trade or in free agency that’ll have the same impact.
In the meantime, Kobe can only continue to give it his all on the basketball court while seeing Duncan continue to compete for titles in San Antonio.
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