A benching? Can you even call it that?
During last night’s game against Memphis, Lakers coach Mike Brown decided to “bench” Kobe Bryant from the 5:45 mark until there was just 1 minute and 51 seconds left in the game. The Lakers eventually fell 102-96 to the Grizzlies.
With it being Kobe Bryant, this was made out to be a HUGE DEAL!
Give me a break.
I just want to let it be known that I can respect those who believe that Kobe Bryant being benched at the end of any game that is still considered winnable is a blasphemous act.
Kobe Bryant is the greatest closer since Michael Jordan. If you’re the Lakers coach and you still think a win is obtainable, then not having your best player on the court while you attempt to retake the lead just looks stupid on your part.
Bryant was clearly upset as he went to the bench and rightfully so. He’s a gamer. He doesn’t think with his body, he thinks with his heart. His willpower and dedication to winning surpasses everyone else in the league. I’m positive that he at least wanted to be out there on the court to make an effort.
The Grizzlies aren’t a pushover. This is a team that could very well meet up with the Lakers this summer in the playoffs. A regular season game is still just a regular season game, but it could also be a time to make a statement and send a message.
Bryant wasn’t necessarily having the most dominating of performances (7-15, 18 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists), but he is (and always will be) the best option at the end of games for the Lakers.
The fans wanted him out there. I’m sure his teammates wanted him out there.
Mike Brown didn’t.
When he was interviewed after the game about the benching, Bryant gave the safest and most diplomatic response he could.
It’s his decision to make. He’s the coach. If you guys are looking for a story, I’m not going to contribute to it. I can’t sit here and criticize his decisions. Leading this ball club, that’s not something I can afford to do. I had his back the whole season. I can’t start doing something crazy now. It would make no sense. – Kobe Bryant
Instead of making a bigger deal about it, Bryant took the high road.
Good for him.
The last thing the team needs right now is dissention between its head coach and superstar player. No need to make a bigger deal out of this than it needs to be.
It’s not like Brown has a history of benching Bryant in key situations. If he had done this 5-6 times prior to the Grizzlies game, he would have been fired ages ago.
The game was pretty much over anyways. Considering Bryant wasn’t exactly playing “Kobe-like”, whose to say that he would have brought the team back from the brink of defeat. He probably could have used the rest after performing for 38 minutes.
Live to fight another day.
I’m sure Brown and Bryant will discuss this matter privately and clear up any hostile feelings created by this faux-pas benching.
It’s not a huge deal. It’s been totally blown out of proportion.
What do you think? Is the benching of Bryant a big deal or no deal at all?
Christopher Walder is a sports blogger and lead editor for Sir Charles in Charge. You may follow him on Twitter @WalderSports