These flirty, flirty Lakers. They like to tease the fans. Giving up big leads to mediocre teams, it’s kind of their thing. But despite giving up big leads lately the Lakers have won four in a row, and Kobe Bryant is playing like an MVP candidate. With his clutch shooting these past games, he’s reminded everyone why he is the most feared player in the league. But the Lakers are now in their final stretch and they have no more time to give up big leads.
With their win against the Clippers, the Lakers have won the season series and are sitting in the third seed of the Western Conference. Only 11 games remain in the regular season and the Lakers need to enter the post-season playing at their very best. However, their remaining schedule will prove to be a challenge. They face Oklahoma City, Dallas, Denver, and San Antonio not once, but three times. Six of those games will be played on the road, which has been a challenge for the Lakers all season. It’s crunch time and certainly not time for any distractions.
When Ramon Sessions was traded to the team, the excitement of Lakers basketball was back in the air. The chance of competing for a title seemed more and more possible. But than the team lost some momentum. Andrew Bynum was fined for his on-court distractions, and a rift between Mike Brown and his players seemed to be slowly leaking onto the court. But Kobe Bryant stood by Mike Brown and he has all season. In doing so, Bryant has provided comfort to fans. It’s always good to know the team’s leader and the coach are on the same page. Whether Bryant and Brown really have been all season, we will never know, but Bryant’s given no reason for anyone to think otherwise.
Therefore it seems as if Bryant needs to lead his team better than he ever has before if they want a real chance at the title. No more drama between Mike Brown or any of the players should arise, but if it does Bryant will have to continue to carry this team on his back. He will need to keep shooting those last minute daggers, like he did against the Hornets, the Nets, and the Clippers. He has got to keep saying all the right things to the press and smooth out any conflict that may arise.
Bryant’s legacy in the NBA will be remembered forever, but making a serious title run this season could take his legacy to the next level. It’s been a roller-coaster ride of a season, with major adjustments and a whole lot of doubt surrounding the team. But Bryant’s play as of late makes the possibility of a title seem real even with all the distractions. Winning a title this season could be the biggest challenge of Bryant’s career. After all, it would be his first without Phil Jackson and Derek Fisher.
So while the road ahead for the Lakers will be long and difficult, it is clear they need Kobe now more than ever before if they want to hold that Larry O’Brien trophy come June.