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On The Eve Of Training Camp, An Open Letter To Kobe Bryant Reviewed by Momizat on . With training camp still a few days away, we can finally allow ourselves to get excited about this upcoming Lakers season. This was one of the more strange off- With training camp still a few days away, we can finally allow ourselves to get excited about this upcoming Lakers season. This was one of the more strange off- Rating:
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On The Eve Of Training Camp, An Open Letter To Kobe Bryant

With training camp still a few days away, we can finally allow ourselves to get excited about this upcoming Lakers season. This was one of the more strange off-seasons I can remember. For starters, it still feels like summer outside my window. Since we’re not really allowed to complain about the weather in L.A., most people still have no idea that this past month’s heat has been brutal. But it isn’t just the weather. Even though last season ended only a few days after most seasons end, this off-season just felt shorter than most. Part of that might be because the NBA’s free agency period seemed to span the entire summer and part of that might have to do with the long-lasting and euphoric highs that came with the acquisitions of Steve Nash and Dwight Howard.

But as great as things seem to be heading into 2012-13, it’s probably best to proceed cautiously optimistic. All is not entirely perfect and plenty can still go wrong. This team is still not the favorite to win the title even though they are one of only a few teams who can. There is still one glaring thing that needs to happen and I’m not sure there is anyone inside the organization that has the balls or the power to do it.

Kobe Bryant needs to understand that he is no longer the player he once was. That doesn’t mean he isn’t still great. It’s just that those moments of greatness come fewer and farther between.

We can’t expect Mike Brown to tell him because Mr. Potato Head already conceded power to Kobe. Phil Jackson is gone so don’t expect him to do it. Derek Fisher, the only guy on the team that had the same respect as Kobe, is no longer around to act as good cop to Kobe’s bad cop. Pau Gasol is just way too nice a guy and loves being a Laker so much that he won’t risk rocking the boat by calling Kobe out — at least not by name. Dwight and Nash are just way too new here and are more concerned with fitting in than they are with trying to assert any kind of power or control over the team.

So I guess that means I have to do it.

Dear Kobe,

Let me preface this by saying that I will always be grateful and in awe of everything you’ve done for this city and the fans. I understand your place in the game’s history and I sympathize with both the expectations placed upon you as a teenager and the fact so many people hate you just because you broke their hearts on so many occasions. But I can’t let any of that take away from the fact that, more often than not, you are the world’s most selfish athlete. In your own mind, a 22-foot jump shot whilst double-teamed is a better shot than a wide open 15-footer from one of your teammates. And that’s part of what makes you great.

But it’s not true. At least not with this team.

This team finally has enough guys who can take big shots. As a result, it’s time your priorities were aligned with what’s best for the team and not with what’s best for your legacy. The better this team performs, the further your legacy will be enhanced. You have to trust me on this. History will look more kindly at you averaging 17 points and shooting 48 percent on a title team than averaging 28 points on 41 percent shooting and exiting the playoffs in Round 2 for a third consecutive year.

I’m going to be frank here. You can call it tough love. You can call it constructive criticism. I don’t really care what you call it. But there’s a definite concern that this team might have more wins without you than with you. I say that only because there’s enough talent on this team with a healthy Dwight and a healthy Steve that I don’t think your presence will affect the team’s overall record by any more wins than if you were replaced by someone like an O.J. Mayo or even Kevin Martin.

However….

Keep in mind that I’m talking about the team’s won-loss record and NOT about how far they can go in the playoffs. This team needs you to win a championship. It’s in your ability to play the right way that will be the deciding factor as to whether or not this team wins a championship. Stray from the course and this team bows out earlier than it should. Stay the course and we’re talking about a parade downtown.

Do you see the difference?

You don’t have a lot of years left in this league. This current Lakers squad doesn’t exactly have the widest of championship windows either. In fact, the margin of error couldn’t be smaller. This team is taking the escalator down as far as their championship prospects are concerned while the Thunder are taking the elevator up.

So if I can ask anything of you as we approach your 17th training camp as a member of the Lakers it’s to focus on empowering your teammates and keeping them focused in a way that only you know how. Keep your demands of them sky-high. Rediscover your ability to defend the opponent’s best perimeter player without gambling for steals all the time.

But when it comes to your offense, less is certainly more. I know you know how to play a team game. I just need to make sure that you’re willing to do so. Figure out how to put your stamp on a game without scoring. Sure there will be those games where you’re shooting lights out and going for 50. I’m not talking about those. I’m talking about the ones where you’re shooting the opposite of lights out and going for 50.

You understand?

This letter might not seem like it but nobody wants to see you win a sixth, or even a seventh ring, more than I do. And that’s why I’m telling you this. Because nobody else will.

Regards,

Andrew Ungvari

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In case you missed it – Dwight Howard talks about starting over in Los Angeles:
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[lakersnation_player file="http://youtu.be/qADzQSNSEvQ" autostart="false"]

About The Author

Andrew Ungvari is a Los Angeles native and a Lakers season ticket holder since 1989. Follow him on twitter @DrewUnga.

Number of Entries : 48
  • incendy

    Oh, please… These articles are so silly. Yes, Kobe the guys with 5 rings sit back and let these guys who could not get a single one take us to the promise land

    • Andrew Ungvari

      That’s sort of the point. The Kobe with the five rings is not the same Kobe. Everyone knows this but delusional Kobe worshipers and Kobe himself. He’s got the help. He just needs to use it. The Lakers don’t need the Kobe who missed 74 out of 129 shots against the Thunder.

      • incendy

        You are acting like Kobe’s offense was the issue against the Thunder, but that is not the case at all. The issues with the Lakers team last year was they lacked any shooting to spread the floor and they were too slow in the post.

        Every player on the Lakers got bad shots except for Artest and whatever loser was playing the 1 spot because that is what other teams wanted and that was the curse of the team and their undoing.

        Nash will be the primary ball handler, Sessions was last season. Dwight will be a focal point of the offense and defense, Bynum has been for years. And Kobe will be a dominant score first wing, as he always has been.

        The team didn’t need or does it need Kobe to play differently, the team needed shooters, bench play and speed. Check, check and check…

        • Andrew Ungvari

          In what world was Sessions the primary ball handler? Nor was Bynum a focal point in the offense on a consistent basis. That’s why his shot totals were all over the map from game-to-game. It’s the same reason why he smiled from ear to ear when he got traded.

          Kobe shot 43%. His worst percentage since 2004-05. That’s inexcusable on a team with Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum. I don’t know where you got this nonsense that every player on the team got bad shots. They had two All-Star 7-footers who drew double teams. That left plenty of open shots for teammates, not just Artest. Kobe took 39 more shots than Kevin Durant, despite having played EIGHT FEWER GAMES! And Durant shot 50%.

          I’m sorry but a guy shooting 43% shouldn’t be shooting 23 times per game. Let’s not pretend that 5 or 6 of those came with the shot clock expiring. He’s a ball hog and probably the worst in NBA history.

          He shot 30% on 3s. His worst since 2001-02. HE MISSED 200 OF 287 3s! Think about that. 

          It’s okay to criticize Kobe. This goes out to all Lakers fans. You’re out of your mind if you don’t think that Kobe’s shooting, both quantity and (lack of) quality, is out of control a lot of the time.

          I’m not denying that the team needed shooters, a better bench, and more athleticism. You’re absolutely right. I’m just hoping Kobe doesn’t ignore the help he now has. If you don’t think that’s a concern than you’re fooling yourself.

          • john

            kobe hater

          • incendy

            lol, you are very passionate hater!

            Kobe is a scorer, when he gets the ball his mentality is too score. That is what Kobe does. His three ball was horrible last season, that is very true. As was everyone on the team.

            Even Steve Nash said in the presser that he saw the one place he could help right away was to spread the floor and give guys better looks. Hopefully that will translate to better looks and percentages for Kobe.

            Also anyone that watched the Lakers last season knows that the team changed to the point guard bringing the ball up and also that the post was always the first option on offense. If Bynum could have passed out of double teams, maybe guys would have gotten looks and he would have gotten the ball more, who knows.

          • Andrew Ungvari

            Kobe will definitely get better looks. And those are the shots he should be taking. Not the ones where he holds onto the ball for the final 11 seconds on the shot clock, tries to split two defenders, and then shoots a fadeaway over a 7-footer that clanks off the rim.

            How many more times do we have to see Kobe complaining to the refs about not getting a call on a horrible shot where he didn’t get fouled? All while the man he should be guarding is on the other side of the court getting an easy lay-up while Kobe complains.

            I don’t know know why Lakers fans seem to think that either you think Kobe is the greatest player in NBA history or otherwise you’re a hater.

            I call it like I see it. Dude has flaws. Major ones. I want this team to win. They have the pieces. He’s the biggest question mark. Does he have the ability to defer if it’s in the best interest of the team? If you think he does, I pray you’re right.

          • Shutupnerd

            “inexcusable” god I hate nerds like you who are all about stats/numbers and you probably can’t go put up 10 points in your local community adult league… just get down on your knees, gargle and swallow… 

          • Andrew Ungvari

            Cool story, e.anderson100.

  • http://twitter.com/MannyRapsSports Manny Munoz

    Think you missed the point incendy.  Either that or you’re not watching the way Kobe tends to control the game.  I understand the stars must shoot themselves out of their funks, but Kobe goes beyond reason during those times.  

    This season he HAS the team that can carry him through those tough times.  It’s in THOSE moments (Not the ones where he’s shooting the lights out and single handedly destroying a team), that Kobe needs to concede to the Nash/Howard/Gasol P+R or 3 man game.  It’s that moment he needs to facilitate, find a way to contribute (Remember his 15 RB’s in Game 7 against the Celtics?). 

    Kobe has always been too stubborn to concede “defeat” when he doesn’t have it.  On this team, especially with a player as emotional as Dwight, KB needs to defer.  That’s Unga’s point here.  Work with the flow of the squad and KB can win 8 rings and not hope for his 6th.  That’s a big deal.  That cements a legacy, and that will forever ensure that Kobe has a parking spot anywhere South of Sacramento (and even then…)

  • http://twitter.com/ou_sas Andrew Whiteside

    As a Thunder fan, a controlled, operating-within-the-offense-rather-than-dominating-it Kobe is what I fear most out of the Lakers – primarily because all of those summer acquisitions will be able to play their roles and mesh the way Lakers fans are predicting. If Kobe decides that the Lakers are his team, dangit, and he’ll do what he wants – well, then the Lakers will suffer from it and that 1st round scare versus Denver last year will repeat itself.

  • http://twitter.com/ou_sas Andrew Whiteside

    As a Thunder fan, a controlled, operating-within-the-offense-rather-than-dominating-it Kobe is what I fear most out of the Lakers – primarily because all of those summer acquisitions will be able to play their roles and mesh the way Lakers fans are predicting. If Kobe decides that the Lakers are his team, dangit, and he’ll do what he wants – well, then the Lakers will suffer from it and that 1st round scare versus Denver last year will repeat itself.

  • http://twitter.com/ou_sas Andrew Whiteside

    As a Thunder fan, a controlled, operating-within-the-offense-rather-than-dominating-it Kobe is what I fear most out of the Lakers – primarily because all of those summer acquisitions will be able to play their roles and mesh the way Lakers fans are predicting. If Kobe decides that the Lakers are his team, dangit, and he’ll do what he wants – well, then the Lakers will suffer from it and that 1st round scare versus Denver last year will repeat itself.

  • http://twitter.com/juliog27 Julio Galvez

    I am one of the biggest Kobe fans out there and I believe this letter was right on point. I found myself yelling for Kobe to pass the ball last season more than I ever had. We all know he can still go off for 40 or shoot the team right back in a game that seemed like a lost cause. But he also shot the team out of a winnable game by needing his scoring to be the reason they won. I don’t understand why Kobe fans have such trouble criticizing or actually analyzing him as a player. I’ve always found Kobe to be the easiest player for me to constructively criticize simply because he is my favorite player. I am excited for this team though. I believe Kobe is much to smart of a player to not adapt and not trust his new teammates and continue to play as if he still needs to average 30 to win. I want to believe that he will look past individual accolades in favor of a championship.  

  • Teepent

    “…that I don’t think your presence will affect the team’s overall record by any more wins than if you were replaced by someone like an O.J. Mayo or even Kevin Martin.”

    Wow no affect when you replace kobe Bryant with O.J. Mayo or Kevin Martin…. Ridiculous

  • Kingbenie

    Dude, all your points are well made but you lost all credibility when you compared the effect of Kobe on this team in the regular season to that of O.J Mayo and Kevin Martin. Are you seriously kidding me.

    • Andrew Ungvari

      Go back and re-read what I wrote. My point was this team has enough talent to win 60 games with either Kobe, Mayo, or Martin at shooting guard. It wasn’t a knock on Kobe. It was a point about how his play will dictate whether or not they win a ring because they can win 60 without him.

  • debird

    Leave Kobe alone! If not for Kobe, the Lakers would not be in the position they’re in today.

  • Guest

    stupid article. ” I don’t think your presence will affect the team’s overall record by any more wins than if you were replaced by someone like an O.J. Mayo or even Kevin Martin.”
    WTF!

  • Lakers Fan

    Stupidist article I have ever read in my life. You should be fired from lakersnation. I have lost respect for lakersnation for allowing this bum to post something so ridiculous. You are trying to tell one of the greatest players EVER how to play his game, think again.

    • Andrew Ungvari

      No. I’m trying to tell one of the greatest players EVER that he’s not nearly as great as he once was. He’s got a lot of help now. I hope he uses it. I don’t know what I can say to someone who still thinks a guy who needs 23 shots to average 29 points a game is still the player he was even three years ago. C’mon, Jerry. You’re better than that.

  • http://www.facebook.com/vaughn.terry Vaughn Terry

    LoL at this article. Who cares about winning 60 games. Lebron did that with the team he had and what did that do for them. You don’t tell the best player in the game to be passive. It is very obvious you don’t know anything about basketball nor have you played the sport. It has always amaze me at how many Lakers fans hate KOBE. Take KOBE away and those 5 Championships are gone. And do I need to remind the idiot about saying what KOBE shot last year that KOBE did have a torn ligament in his wrist. Hello you do remember right? I you think Dwight is the focal point on offense you are an idiot. He doesn’t have half the offensive skill that Bynum has and just be real. Nor does his offensive skill even match SHAQ. 

    • Andrew Ungvari

      That’s exactly my point. I don’t care about winning 60 games. I want to win a championship. Who’s telling the best player in the game to be passive? I didn’t say anything here about LeBron.

      I don’t hate Kobe. Please re-read what I wrote. I agree that without Kobe they don’t have those 5 championships. But stop putting words in my mouth. Nobody said run the offense through Dwight. All I said was that 2012 Kobe is not even 2009 Kobe. So you and Kobe need to stop pretending he is because right now he’s the only person on this team that we’re not sure is willing to buy into the team concept and the only one who could sabotage this season because he’s more concerned with putting his own stamp on things.

      If you’ve got a torn ligament in your wrist then that’s more reason not to shoot. If you’ve got a torn ligament in your wrist and you’re shooting 43 percent, then you shouldn’t shoot the ball 23 times per game. If you’ve got a torn ligament in your wrist then maybe you shouldn’t shoot 287 three-pointers when you embarrass yourself by missing 200 of them.

      No need to name-call. You wanna have a debate, let’s have a debate. But argue with what I said, not with what I didn’t say.

      Looking at your picture, you look about 45. You’d think someone your age could make a point without name-calling or making stuff up. Let’s chat like men. No need to pretend we’re six-year olds on the playground arguing over a see-saw.

  • Pappajdunk

    The Lakers weren’t going anywhere last year, let’s be real.  They had way too many flaws to win a championship even if Kobe played exactly how you wanted him to last year.  He shot a lot because they didn’t have the team.  I agree that he’s not what he used to be, but I’m also confident that Kobe will do the right thing most of the time like he did in 2009 and 2010 when they won two championships.  Kobe had almost twice as many assists as all the other starters combined when they beat Orlando in the finals, and they had better shooting and Lamar Odom.  He will pass to Jamison, Nash, and Dwight

    • Andrew Ungvari

      I hope you’re right. We can both agree he knows how to play the right way. I agree with you that they were never a legit contender last season. But they were also a few possessions away from winning that OKC series or at least taking it 7. I’m glad you brought up that Magic series. People forget that Kobe had 8 assists in each of the first three games, seven in the fourth game, and then five in the clincher. Let’s hope we get that version of Kobe.

      Don’t forget that I’m the also guy who posted the YouTube video, “Kobe Bryant — Three of the Biggest Assists in Lakers History.”

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