Remember those Nike commercials that featured Kobe Bryant, being a mentor and teacher as the world most success men and women attend his sessions to learn more about being successful.
Here is my favorite:
The entire purpose for those commercials was to joke around with the concept that it is Kobe Bryant’s world, and we just live in it. While it is very funny to laugh at, the reality is that Kobe still believes that in L.A., he is the guru and everyone needs to submit to him. The entire L.A. Laker roster is subject to the Kobe System, and because of this the team can grow. Kobe is going to be the end of the L.A. Laker era. Allow me to explain why.
If you remember in my article months ago I gave a detailed reason on why the Lakers found themselves in a strange place. L.A. has been spoiled with excellent basketball for around 30+ years. For it to come to a crumbling stop has cause for some turmoil to say the least. In relation to the Kobe Byrant era of basketball, reason number one on why it was always successful is
The Lakers Pedigree
Jerry Buss is all you had to drop. He was able to wrangle 4 of the top 10 greatest players in NBA history in Magic, Kareem, Shaquelle and Byrant over the span of 20 years. And the Lakers won, and won big. The assumption was always this: If the Lakers are asking you to play, they have a plan to win. This plan is what brought Kareem to L.A., why Shaq dipped on Orlando, why Gasol pushed for his trade, why Howard Shaq’d Orlando. L.A is the city of dreams, women and championships.
Or at least it’s how Jerry built it up to be. He had a knack of enticing players to drop everything to play on the purple and gold. When he did, that magic left with him. Since his pasting the Lakers are starting to look the Clippers. The collection of player they have is poor, they have an inability to attract big names, and do not seem to have a game plan.
Level 1 of the Kobe System is Leadership. Jerry Buss hired two of the best coaches in the NBA in Riley and Phil Jackson to bring a bulk of their many championships. I understand that the pool is difficult, but the Lakers can no longer proceed with the state of mind that they have players to put around a system. They need a game plan as to what is needed to be done with coaching, and players. They can no longer lean on Kobe for an annual bail out.
The Lakers Talent
Besides the Black Mamba, the most talented players the Lakers have are Nik Young, Jeremy Lin and Julius Randle. That is not very promising considering the stiff competition the Lakers are now surrounded in. What the Lakers should do is plan beyond Kobe. Level 2 of the Kobe System is recruitment. Kobe is used to players looking to go to the Lakers first. Since Lebron/Wade/Bosh joined forces in Miami, L.A. is no longer the super power. Kobe’s reputation and pedigree no longer hold meaning in the NBA. Players look at Kobe as that old guy who asks to join the pick up game with players half his age. Because of this, the Lakers find themselves using the tactic of find players first, fit the coach second method that has worked for them for so many years.
Not anymore. The Lakers have never looked to grow players like the Spurs have done and their bitter rivals the Celtics have begun to do as well. The Lakers are going to have to do is start to plan for not having Kobe around. Julius Randle is an excellent first step, but losing a player like Kendall Marshall was a bit of a blow. The Lakers need to see the need for a slow-paced rebuild process because the NBA is no longer about L.A and Boston. They did take a good first step in taking Byron Scott, who is a great coach to start building young players around.
The city of L.A. has had the wind knocked out of them. Most fans show their true colors as they trade in the purple and gold for red white and blue ones (Clippers). L.A. wants to see a team win. If the Clippers can provide that, the Laker brand will fall as a result. Level 3 of the Kobe system is Kobe’s ego. His ego is what drove Howard out of L.A. , what rendered Nash useless, and what pushed Pau to go to Chicago. Kobe has a sense of pride for his team. He is responsible for 5 of their championships. But all good things must come to an end, and the Lakers should look to ask Kobe to step aside. Like the saying goes, If you truly love something, let it go. In this case Kobe needs to allow his organization to grow without him being the focal point. This may mean taking a pay cut, or even retiring.
The Kobe System has been effective. You can not argue with 5 championships in 10 years. But now the sun has set, and as if you are not already sick of hearing it, it is time to let it go. This is not me saying Kobe is not a good player, but let us be real for a couple of moments people, Kobe has had a string of injuries in the last two years, and is turning 36 in august. In basketball years, that is 60. If the Lakers what to Overcome the Kobe System, it begins with cutting emotional ties with Kobe Byrant. He is a shell of the player he once was. It is not his fault, nor a diss to his track record. It simply time doing what it does best ; force change.