Kobe Bryant and the LA Lakers will be hosting the Denver Nuggets for game 7 of the first round. That’s right! One of the greatest of all-time is struggling to oust a team with no all-stars. You would think there would be some type of caveat as to why Kobe and the Lakers can’t get it done. But their just failing (JaMarcus Russell style…I probably went too far right there). It makes you question Kobe’s leadership.
Kobe Bryant hasn’t made enough plays for his team in the playoffs, over the last 2 seasons. Now before I blasphemy the great Kobe, allow me to say that this has nothing to do with his career as a whole. Dude is one of the greatest players of all time. You can argue that’s he’s top ten. However, if you’re going to be top 10, you can’t have the kind of flame outs he’s had in the post season1. Kobe Bryant does so many great things, yet when has he been a true leader? Perhaps he isn’t the leader everyone has built him up to be?
This year was a perfect opportunity for Kobe Bryant to create another chapter of his career. With his diminished skills, and above average supporting cast, Bryant had the opportunity to add, “One of the greatest leaders of all-time” to his resume. However he never used the people around him to their maximum ability in the regular season. Consequently their lacks of reps are leading to below average performances in the playoffs. Now I’m not dismissing Andrew Bynum or Pau Gasol’s lack of effort. Those guys aren’t getting it done either. But if you’re Kobe Bryant, you have to lead you team against an extremely inferior opponent.
In order to go deep into the playoffs, team leadership is mandatory. Sometimes your best player is a great leader like Tim Duncan. Other times the best player on the team is a stat sheet stuffer that focuses on getting theirs, see Carmelo Anthony. I think Kobe is somewhere in between. While he loves getting his, he’s cognizant of where he stands among legends. So he would never allow himself to be deemed a loser even if he was putting up hall-of-fame numbers (Vince Carter style). The problem is that his skills have diminished to the point where he can’t compensate for his lack of leadership. Consequently the Lakers struggle to advance out of the first round despite overwhelming talent.
Under no circumstance should The Great Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers be in a game 7 against the Denver Nuggets. I know no one wants to say it, and we’re boosting them up. But the Denver Nuggets stink. If Kobe Bryant were the leader he has been portrayed to be. This series would have ended in 5 games. You can’t be compared to Michael Jordan, and then go drop eggs (plural). Now I know Kobe was sick in game 6. However once upon a time Michael Jordan was sick and he won the title. Perhaps Kobe will do the same…or perhaps he’s not the leader you think he is?
1. The Lakers were swept by the Dallas mavericks in 2012 and Kobe Bryant went quit mode against the Phoenix Suns in 2006. He would go on to ask for a trade in the offseason before being pacified with Pau Gasol.
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