Kobe Bryant is one of the greatest NBA players of all time. He’s also one that will cause extreme emotional responses from fans when the topic of his value, legacy or teammate comes up. Bryant is cocky, but also one of the hardest working basketball players ever. As we wind down to his last years, an ESPN piece says that Kobe is why the Lakers can’t move forward with rebuilding.
“I’ve had a lot of clients in the last five years, good players, who didn’t want to play with Kobe,” says an agent who has had numerous NBA stars. “They see that his teammates become the chronic public whipping boys. Anyone who could possibly challenge Kobe for the spotlight ends up becoming a pincushion for the media. Even Shaq.”
Kobe will be valued much more when he’s gone. While it’s true that he’s difficult in some ways, so was Jordan. However, I do believe that players aren’t rushing to play with Kobe because the culture of the NBA is changing. Players are much more friendly, real rivalries are few and far in between. Kobe commands a certain level of excellence and focus. It’s the same that he demands of himself. Not everyone wants to go to work under those conditions.
Rebuilding is never an easy task. Boston and New York are having problems too. And let’s not absolve Lakers management from making a mess. How many coaches have the Lakers been through in the last four seasons? What about the Steve Nash signing? The Lakers have problems, but putting them all on Kobe seems to be an easy solution for something that’s way more complicated than one player.