The Strategic Summer of Kobe Bryant

The Strategic Summer of Kobe Bryant

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In the late 19th century, Britain was the world’s leading economic power, they refused to get involved in European affairs unless it altered the balance of power. While everyone else was busy forming alliances and competing for colonies with each other, Britain sat back and watched, knowing they could squash the rest of Europe when things got out of hand. This policy was called splendid isolation. The British were forced out of their isolation due to the exponential growth of Germany and later the United States of America. The bottom line is that the British didn’t take any chances that would jeopardize their status as alpha dog unless they needed to.

This summer Kobe Bryant has been Britain.  

The NBA’s other top stars beside Bryant have been dominating the headlines with various appearances. LeBron James and Dwyane Wade hosted their own charity game this past week. Carmelo Anthony showed up to his alma mater, Syracuse, for Midnight Madness. Kevin Durant has been dominating the summer league circuit like a man possessed.

Where has Kobe been? Probably in some private gym working tirelessly in preparation for the season, if there is one.

Bryant has done more than enough to establish himself with the global basketball community, these other guys may have been more active than him this summer; but at the end of the day they are planets that revolve around Kobe’s sun. At this stage in his career he doesn’t need to prove himself anywhere besides the NBA Finals.

Bryant’s quiet summer has been strategic, just like Britain’s isolationism.

On the rare occasion that Kobe has broken his silence, it’s been highly beneficial for his wallet.
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Take this into account: Bryant is scheduled to make $307,859 per game this season.

In the two exhibition games in the Philippines in July, he was paid $400,000 and all his expenses were paid for.

When he clowned Bow Wow one-on-one at his camp, it was the easiest $1,000 he’s ever made.

And the most recent rumor of playing in Italy? Initially the offer was for Bryant to play 10 games for $3 million, now the president of the team has stated he is willing to comply with paying him $2 million for a one game cameo. On top of all that, that one game is supposed to be ‘Kobe tribute night’ and will be broadcasted on several American networks once he puts pen to paper. Talk about building a global brand.

The one time Kobe didn’t make a public appearance for an obscene amount of dough was at the Drew League in August (and who knows he might’ve been paid handsomely for that as well). When his 42nd and 43rd point of the night turned out to be the game winner, he further enhanced his reputation as the best closer in basketball.  By performing so well in that game, he proved his experimental knee surgery in Germany had been beneficial.

Kobe knows exactly what he’s doing. By periodically popping up here and there, the legend of Kobe Bryant grows. We all sit and wait for NBA basketball to come back because we know the game can’t function without its biggest star. It’s historically proven, consumers crave what they see less of: in the 80’s, professional wrestling would limit the appearances of their top draws in order to increase buy rates for the pay per views.

I have one last hunch about Bryant’s silence. He may be doing this out of respect for his life-long backcourt partner and president of the players’ association, Derek Fisher. Since they came into the league together, Kobe has always been the driver with Fisher riding shotgun. In terms of negotiations, their roles have reversed. Fisher is at the forefront of every major meeting while Kobe can do little but support his teammate. I think if Kobe were to take on a bigger role in labor talks as John Wall had plead, he would significantly diminish Fisher’s role in all this (especially in the public eye). If Fisher is able to come to an agreement with Stern and the owners, he’d be seen as a hero of sorts and Kobe wants to let him have his moment.

With the early departure of the Lakers from the playoffs and the delay of the beginning of the season, Kobe has had more time to rest than any summer in recent memory.

Yet depending on how late the season starts, a shortened season may be worse for the aging Lakers, especially Bryant, who’s entering his 16th season.

In the last lockout, the season was shortened to 50 games. The Lakers played 50 games in 89 days, including six in an eight-day span.

Robert Horry told the LA Times that “it cut my career by a year. Those times where we played three games in a row, your knees hurt so bad you walked around like you were on hot coals. And you were so tired from all the traveling, you’d walk right into walls at the team hotel. It was murder on our bodies. It wiped me out.”

Regardless of how short the season may be, it’s imperative for the Lakers to have one as their championship window is closing. Losing a full year of Bryant’s protracted prime could be more devastating than the X-amount of millions the league is losing. You can’t put a price on the final chapter of Bryant’s legacy.

Like Britain, Bryant’s time in the sun won’t last forever. With the up and coming Germany (LeBron and friends), Russia (Derrick Rose and the slew of young guards) and the sleeping giant that is the United States (Durant’s Oklahoma City Thunder squad brimming with potential) all looking to supplant Britain, it may only be a matter of time before Bryant, like Britain, is required to acquire some allies of his own. Preferably, an ally by the name of Chris Paul or Dwight Howard.