That’s just the type of player Kobe is. In essence, he’s the defacto point guard and shooting guard, which means he’ll have the ball a lot and make decisions based on what he sees. Michael Jordan was the same way, and so were other dominant scorers who played a similar position as Kobe, such as Allen Iverson and Dwyane Wade (in his prime). Three out of those four players have at least one Finals MVP, by the way.
Speaking of MJ, could anyone see His Airness showing up to a recruitment meeting, ready to beg a player to stay? Mr. Abbott, why don’t you go ask Mr. Jordan how he would’ve handled that?
Anyway, back to the article.
Kobe was also dominating the ball handling duties back when the Lakers won their first three-peat between 2000-2002, yet Shaquille O’Neal still managed to average close to 30 points per game and earned three Finals MVP awards as well. Shaq’s demand for the ball was higher than that of Dwight’s, and although Kobe and Shaq feuded plenty of times during their tenure together, the two egos somehow managed to work it out and win three straight championships. It could have been more, certainly, but the blame falls on both of them in that regard.
However, with Shaq, he managed to squeeze out one more championship without Kobe (Kobe managed two without Shaq), before his game declined rapidly due to injury, which was possibly a result of poor conditioning — one aspect Kobe continually harped on him about, if he were to remain the franchise star.
That’s the thing with Kobe. He puts in the work and prepares himself to be a franchise player every single year, and has performed up to that billing most of his career. If Kobe sees another player who doesn’t possess the same drive, work ethic, or talent level as him, and that player is trying to pass himself off as the franchise’s new star, why would he concede that title? Why would he hand somebody the reigns to one of the finest organizations in all of sports if they are not willing to put their heart and soul into it?
He certainly didn’t try to sabotage or block it from happening, either. He tried to give Dwight the blueprint and the attitude to do it. Howard simply did not want any part of it, though.
In the end, the Lakers were left with a struggling roster as a result of Dwight Howard’s departure. They had a 27-55 season, and are not even considered playoff contenders for this season. At the same time, they did end up with Julius Randle with the seventh overall pick over the summer, which would likely not have happened had Howard stayed.
Randle, a Lakers fan growing up, is a promising young forward who possesses the right mentality for this franchise. He realizes the opportunity he has playing for the Lakers and learning from his idol.
Although he’s a power forward, he recently even went as far as saying, “I don’t want to be the next Shaq. I want to be the next Kobe.”
Maybe there are certain players who Kobe does scare off, or who don’t want to play with him because they won’t feel as important. (On a side note, Carmelo Anthony is not one of those players.)
But, those are the same players who maybe aren’t as good as Kobe, yet want the same privileges and praises that the Black Mamba has earned.
There are certainly plenty of young players out there today who want to be the next Kobe Bryant, just as Randle does. And who knows, maybe Julius Randle does have what it takes to become a franchise star, and possesses the kind of attitude and thick skin Bryant deems necessary to become one.
As for Dwight and Kobe, the following clip says it all. Dwight, in an elimination game, frustratedly picks up his second technical foul and gets ejected from the game. Moments later, Kobe — who had kept himself in the locker room to avoid distracting the team — emerges in an attempt to give the arena some energy.
The fans’ reaction explains the true story. The man who was brought in to lead the franchise going forward (even if he never asked for it) essentially gave up on the Lakers and checked himself out of the ballgame. On the other side, the man who had given the franchise everything he physically and mentally had, came out of the shadows to try and give it one last bit of help — even if it was just in the form of the energy that would come from him being seen in the stands.
One can only imagine the look Kobe gave Dwight as the two passed each other in the hallway.
Perhaps we’ll get to see that look tonight, when Dwight and the Rockets come to town and face Kobe and the Los Angeles Lakers.[divide]
Lakers Practice: Kobe Bryant Before Opening Night