Byron Scott finally admitted what anyone who watched the Los Angeles Lakers already knew: Kobe Bryant had no business playing the amount of minutes and shouldering the workload he did in the beginning of the season.
Now that Kobe’s body is beginning to break down, forcing Scott to sit Kobe out of games, there have been discussions about shutting Kobe down for the rest of the season. Scott has even said that he would consider shutting Kobe down in March if the team is out of playoff contention.
Unless there is some injury that we don’t know about yet, that would be a bad idea.
Don’t get me wrong, this is a lost season. The Lakers aren’t making the playoffs, especially in this Western Conference. The remainder of this season should be used to see which players on this roster are worth keeping around for the long haul.
However, the Lakers are also trying to re-build as quickly as possible. Jim Buss said he would have the team in contention in three years, and there’s only two more years after this season. Kobe is still a big part of the team’s immediate future. What can he possibly do to help the team if he’s not around?
When it was determined that Kobe would not return from his injury last year, he wasn’t around the team. He wasn’t at practice. He wasn’t on the bench during games. This season, Scott has displayed the tendency to let Kobe stay home when he rests this year which is something I have continually struggled to understand.
Kobe is one of the most intelligent players in the NBA. How is not having him on the bench, even in a pseudo-assistant coach role not beneficial for the rest of the players on the team?
Everyone remembers Kobe’s practice rant for calling the rest of the team ‘soft like charmin.’ Another line just as important, in my opinion, was him wondering if that was how the team practiced when he wasn’t around. Bryant is intense and demanding on his teammates. He pushes everyone to their limits and doesn’t allow people to not give 100 percent.
I remember in 2002 watching an injured Ray Lewis roam the sidelines for a Baltimore Ravens team struggling to make a playoff run at the end of the season. When the defense came off the field, it was Lewis meeting the players letting them know what they needed to be doing and where they were failing.
Those players knew that even though he wasn’t on the field, Lewis was holding them accountable for everything that happened and they worked their butts off to make sure they didn’t let him down. Kobe can have that same impact, but not if he’s at home.
Just his presence around the team keeps players on their toes and forces them to be held accountable. For young players looking to grow, that is an important asset, and one that will be lost if he is not around.
On the court, playing with Kobe can be difficult. Though he has adjusted his game recently, it still takes time to develop chemistry with someone like him. Coming into the season, no player — new or returning — had meaningful court time with Bryant, and it showed.
Kobe Bryant’s Take On His Poor Shooting
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