Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Fed Up With Kobe Bryant And That Final Tour

Are you as sick to death of Kobe Bryant as I am? Has all this fawning and gushing over the LA Lakers' retiring guard been turning your stomach? Are you as happy as I am that it is finally over?

This "final tour" wasn't at all necessary. What did it accomplish aside from stroking Bryant's insatiable ego? Yes he was a great player but players better than him retired without all the over-the-top fanfare. When Michael Jordan and Kareem and Wilt and Bird and Magic called it a career, nothing remotely like this happened.

This has been the worst season in Lakers' history, with only 16 wins. Of course, the record would be better if the team had been concentrating on winning games rather than showcasing Bryant  The Lakers have a nucleus of good young talent, including D'Angelo Russell, Jordan Clarkson, Larry Nance and Julius Randle. This season they were supposed to learn to play together. We were supposed to get some idea whether they fit in the Lakers' future. But we found out very little because the focus was on Kobe, not them.

What these young players mainly learned was how to play with a broken-down has-been who keeps demanding the ball even though his shooting skills have woefully diminished. He can sometimes score in the 20s and 30s but it takes him so many shots and totally throws the rest of the team out of positive offensive rhythm. When he's on the floor it's all about feeding him, not playing team basketball. How's that for a learning experience?

When it's time to play defense and Kobe is on the floor, the Lakers have been in real trouble because Bryant can't play defense any more, so it's four Lakers vs five opponents. You can't win many games that way.

So, for the Lakers, this has been a wasted season. The coach, Bryon Scott, is probably a lame duck. He's there now because he knows Kobe and Kobe is more comfortable having an old friend as a coach during this final season. Once again, it's all about Kobe and what makes him happy, not about the team.

As you might expect, the Lakers are circling the drain. They had hoped to attract some free agents for next season. There's plenty of money because they won't have squander any more on overpaying Kobe. But what quality free agent wants to step into the Laker chaos?

While the Kobe circus has been grinding on, there has been an ugly D'Angelo Russell mess playing out. Russell recorded Nick Young making comments that have compromised his romance with rapper Iggy Izalea. That record came out on the Internet. Russell claims he didn't release it but few believe him. The players are furious with Russell and now thoroughly distrust and dislike him..According to sources close to the team, things are so bad the Lakers may have to trade him. The Lakers haven't been able to give this critical issue their full attention.

I'll give you one guess why.