The Los Angeles Lakers are now finding out that Kobe Bryant’s, or the Black Mamba’s bite, is a lot worse than they ever imagined.
In Henry Abbott’s lengthy, unflattering piece in this week’s ESPN The Magazine, the columnist portrays Kobe Bryant as the seismic fault line in the Southern California team’s foundation.
And, few NBA insiders differ with his assessment.
Another NBA reporter commented in the ESPN piece. “Peek behind the banners,” says one longtime NBA agent, “and it’s rotten.”
Abbott’s detailed analysis of Bryant’s negative impact focuses on how the Black Mamba has snake bitten the Los Angeles franchise.
Abbott points at Bryant for not only gobbling up a disproportionate percentage of the Lakers’ salary cap by agreeing to a two year $48 million contract. But, the ESPN writer also accuses Bryant of chasing away potential marquee free agent signings because of their unwillingness to team up with Kobe on the LA stage.
Other anonymous agents have reluctantly confirmed Abbott’s assertions that Bryant has unwittingly torpedoed the Lakers’ efforts to sign top free agents, like LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Love, Chris Bosh and Paul George) to play along side the fourth best scorer in NBA history. Simply, these NBA stars don’t want to play with the aging Bryant, now listed 40th in a recent poll of NBA players.
Unfortunately, NBA fans are also growing weary of the negativity surrounding Bryant and are now finding out what NBA players, coaches, agents and media have always known – the Black Mamba is as biting, underhanded and lethal as his namesake suggests.
So, you may think I’m a Kobe basher, unfair and too harsh in my critique? Read a quote from another NBA agent.
“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.”
Just ask Dwight Howard, Pau Gasol or Smush Parker who all sought one-way tickets out of LAX and aren’t expecting Christmas cards from their former teammate.
The Lakers have lived by Kobe Bryant and now they are wilting, nearly dying, because of Kobe Bryant. As the 36-year-old former superstar’s level of play has declined, so has the Lakers winning percentage from .695 to .621 to .549 to a woeful .329 last season.
This year may not be much better. With no other top NBA talent on its roster, the Lakers will once again struggle to reach the playoffs. ESPN currently ranks the team 28th overall in its latest poll.
The purple and gold seem as if they’re spiraling into an NBA vortex with no immediate reconstruction plan in sight. With five coaches in four years and an aging superstar’s tail wagging the franchise dog, the free fall will certainly continue.
MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!