Feb 16, 2014; New Orleans, LA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant speaks during a press conference before the 2014 NBA All-Star Game at the Smoothie King Center. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
To say this Los Angeles Lakers season has been a disappointment would be quite the understatement. For a franchise as esteemed as the Lakers, their current situation cannot be described as anything less than a mess. Still hurting from the Dwight Howard departure debacle and injuries disrupting the returns of both Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash, the Lakers are lacking something they’ve always had, even during the rough stretches: Star Power. Even beyond that, their team consists of players that could be very effective role players … and not much more. Pau Gasol has been in and out of the lineup and Nick Young has been the only other spark this season. Needless to say, it hasn’t been Lakers basketball.
It isn’t hard to see why Bryant would be frustrated, not only with the team, but with his own personal season. After signing a two year extension making him the highest paid player in the league, Bryant has been forced to sit out again with injury. And thus, the Black Mamba has spoken:
"“Next year it ain’t going to be this way…Appreciate it now because revenge is sweet and it’s quick.”We all know the end is coming up but it’s going to be a hell of a run.”"
So, what do we know? Kobe has two seasons left for sure. Both seasons are with the Lakers. Kobe wants to win. Immediately. Kobe has a proven drive to win, as seen in few other players. I’m certain it’s safe to say Kobe wants another ring. Is that the revenge he speaks of? How about getting back at teams that have beaten the Lakers in the playoffs, or players that have left the organization in the dirt … I’m looking at you, Dwight Howard. Kobe wasn’t present this season to take on his former disgruntled teammate and I’m sure he wants his shot at him.
Kobe also realizes this is probably his last run and he doesn’t want to go out anywhere but on top. I’m sure his voice is loud and clear in the front office and he wants to be vocal in putting together a top contending team that will be able to compete for one (or two) final Kobe Bryant championship.
The Lakers’ awful season will actually have them in a pretty good position come offseason. They’ll most likely have a top draft pick in addition to having money to fill a roster spot with a top tier talent, most notably Carmelo Anthony. While it’s not a foregone conclusion Melo leaves New York, the Lakers will still have the assets (top pick and expiring contracts) to negotiate big name trades, such as the often talked about Kevin Love to LA move.
It certainly won’t be this way next season, as Kobe Bryant should be healthy enough to be himself next season and he should have some solid help alongside him. Selecting the right personnel could potentially set up the Lakers to be successful during Kobe’s final run and set them up for future success. It will truly be interesting to see how the Bryant era closes. Let’s hope it ends on a positive note, rather than the disaster this season has been.