The Work That Is Needed Will Be the Work That Is Done

Darius Soriano —  May 18, 2013

“I’ll push myself to exhaustion.”

If there’s one characteristic that defines Kobe Bryant’s career it is the work he has put in to become the player he is. As much as he’s been gifted his physical characteristics and that innate feel for the game that all the greats have, he’s also honed his skills through thousands of hours of hard work and made himself into the player he is. In a way, it’s that drive to be the best and the subsequent work it has inspired that has separated him from many of his contemporaries.

Kobe will need to call on that ethic now more than ever in staring down his latest challenge. His rehabilitation from his torn achilles tendon is the one of, if not the, biggest obstacles he’s faced in his career and in order to come back anywhere near the player he was before before the injury, he’ll need to push himself to levels that I can’t even imagine. Whether he can actually achieve this goal remains an open question, but if there’s one player who we can’t doubt will push himself that extra mile it is Kobe.

After all, his career has been built on putting in that extra time and, as the video shows above, vigorously working to become the player we’ve seen for 17 years.

Darius Soriano

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55 responses to The Work That Is Needed Will Be the Work That Is Done

  1. @Darius
    Chills. Thank you for posting this. Does anyone doubt that Kobe Bryant will be back after this rehab? My only question about him after this injury is if he will be 95% of the player that he was pre-injury, or if he’ll be 100% *and well-rested.

  2. I think it is funny that we ask whether Kobe will be 100%, or 85%, or 60% of what he was. Kobe will probably be different. After all, he has come back each year a little different. That is one of the constants after 17 years – he always changes something every year. Kobe is one of the smartest players in the game. He will develop something in his footwork, in his passing, in how he approaches his opponents. This doesn’t mean he will be better or worse, but different. I am curious to see what that difference turns out to be.

  3. If everything goes without a hitch, I’d hope for Kobe to be 90-95% in about a year and a half. For perspective: http://deadspin.com/how-an-achilles-tear-affects-nba-players-or-why-kobe-472944871

  4. The Deadspin piece was OK, but not particularly helpful (it was also written by one the internet’s endless supply of 20/30-something wiseasses who don’t like Kobe–always a thrill).

    Basically:

    1. Kobe’ age, mileage and the severity of the injury will make this very, very tough.
    2. His work ethic, skill and style of play make it so that even people rooting against him (and while few will admit to it, obviously a lot of people are) will be leery about betting against his coming back strong (90-95%).
    3. No one knows whether the insane workload D’Antoni had Kobe deal with contributed to the injury, but it is possible that it did.

    That is, of course, by far the best reason to fire D’Antoni (if one believes it).

  5. rr: I’m sure you know this already but Lakers can’t receive players in any trades since they are a cap paying team. If they were to trade Pau it would have to be for picks or cap space. I still haven’t wrapped my head around that rule and it probably won’t become realistic until trading season is here and analysts start saying it. Even though Darius has already posted about it.

    I definitely hope Kobe comes back as close to 2012-2013 Kobe as possible. Lakers will probably get that guy in spurts seeing he should spend more time on the bench because of mileage and his recent injury. He was 5th in MVP voting CP3 was 4th. Being a Lakers fan I’m bumping him up to 4th. Both Lakers and Clippers were ousted in the 1st round and Kobe had more memorable moments this season than Paul. Clippers had 17 game win streak but it’s an individual award and Kobe was the better indivdual player this year. Record can be taken into account but my Lakers homerism boosts Kobe up a spot.

    An arch rival may hit the market this off season, Paul Pierce. A better Sf than any currently on the roster and may come cheap. He’ll probably be bought out for $5 mill and Lakers can offer him $3.2 million. So he could make at least half his supposed salary, $15, if he were to sign with the Lakers. He’ll want to play for a ring and it’s close to home. Clippers could be competition. And if it would be a package deal with Garnett that’d be great. Wishful thinking but to furthur take some of the burden off Nash and Kobe Pierce would be a good get. He also shoots 37% from 3 for his career and 38% last year something Lakers sorely need. It would be a bitter pill to swallow and also would enhance our last chance at a ring.

  6. Great video. We should all just be honored to share the time we have with Kobe and hope that we will share much more.

  7. rr: I love it when you throw my own stuff back at me : ) With regard to Shannon and Barnes. Yes – perfect examples of vagabonds. Of course we contributed to this by forcing them to yet another team, however, they were already vagabonds. As I said, vagabonds are needed to fill out a roster. Guys like MWP, Glen Rice, and Ron Harper are a few very successful uses of vagabonds for the Lakers. They are the finishing touches however. In the case of Shannon and Barnes, the reason their ouster was such a mistake is that there was no money with which to replace them. We could have signed them or not, that was the decision. It wasn’t between them and someone else. To your “boat anchor” point about Blake and MWP: Correct – but again – can we replace them with better. Using amnesty on either saves money but that is about it. With regard to your comments about Howard walking – again I agree. It will be a nightmare and we must pull out all the stops to avoid that.

  8. A 100% percent kobe is not even enough for the last 3years. Amnesty kobe and we can start rebuilding.
    Yes, kobe has unmatched work ethic, but what driven him for this, was his quest for perfection of his hero ball mentality. The kobe that Ive seen in the last 17 years. Lakers need a better leader.

  9. edu,
    Methinks you are on the wrong blog. Trolling anyone?

  10. Kevin,

    The Lakers can’t receive players in sign-and-trades because they are over the tax apron. They can still make regular trades.

    Robert,

    I agree with a lot of what you say about Brown and Barnes, with the caveat that the problem was not so much letting them go–it was failing to replace them. Literally. Because of the Ebanks, uhh, misunderstanding, and the remarkably dumb decision to give a contract to Jason Kapono, the Lakers played 2012 without a backup 2 and played 2013 without a backup 3. And, so, here we are with the team needing two playable wings and playable combo guard for the mini-midlevel and two minimums–and Kobe with a ruptured Achilles.

  11. Trolling anyone?

    Indeed. I assume it is reference to Phil’s comments about Jordan being a better leader than Kobe that appear in Phil’s new book and have been widely quoted on the net.

  12. Not inferring that it was done deliberately (after the ‘Media Mouths’ ran with what, IMO, were some honest statements from Phil), but this video was right on time. One of the most scrutinized individuals in the history of the ..A. Some may Love him. Some may Hate him. But one thing you have to do is Respect him. Anticipation is on High for ‘The Comeback’ ..

  13. _Kevin
    The Lakers can still trade players as usual *and they could even sign Howard and trade him for other players. The only sign-and-trades that they can’t take part in are the ones where the other team signs a player and trades him to us.

    Robert- I’m with you on the Kobe injury…

    rr- What bugs me the most about the Phil comments about Kobe/Jordan is that Phil is too smart not to realize that circumstances often help to make the player. Would Jordan have been Jordan if he would have played his first 6 or 7 years alongside Shaq? Either Jordan would have fell in line behind the MDE or there would have been issues. ( I believe that Jordan and Shaq would have feuded harder than Kobe/Shaq.) The comparisons are just ridiculous anyway, but whatever. The GOAT is Kareem. The only reason he isn’t considered is because of:
    1) ESPN and the 24/7 sports and news cycle
    2) He wasn’t a people person.
    3) Playoffs are all nationally televised during Jordan’s time so that everyone saw him play.
    4) I personally believe that Kareem’s religious views contributed to his near *shunning* by media.

  14. I really misunderstood the rules. I thought Lakers were prohibited from taking players back in trades because they are in the tax. Thanks for enlighting me.

  15. I read and hear it all the time. The game has changed. Size no longer matters, you have to have athletes that run, run, run. So who is in the final 4? The Griz, Pacers, Spurs and the Heat. The Heat is the only team that lacks size. Yes they are the favorites but every remaining team is a match up problem for the Heat. They will not win by running. They will have to grind. That’s why I think if we can add a little help at the wing, we give the twin towers concept one last shot. Considering we are not going to be able to overhaul the line up this season, you have to stick with the size because look around, it still wins.

  16. KenOak,
    You are so right about religion being a factor in the media reaction to an individual. Look what it cost Muhammad Ali. I started following Kareem in his freshman year at UCLA, when they beat the seniors coming back from winning the NCAA championship the previous year (freshmen were not allowed to play in college at that time). He was a man of tremendous talent and drive, who made the most of each. The main knock on him is that he was not concerned with what the media thought of him and he didn’t feel he owed the fans either a great deal of attention or any of his private time. By itself that was enough to make him a villain in the eyes of sportswriters and the public. It didn’t help that he was a very intelligent and determined black man dealing with a largely white media when he started – much like what Wilt faced.

  17. Michael H,

    I pointed that out a week or so ago. Also, Memphis and Indiana are very slow-paced teams–Memphis is actually 30th in Pace Factor.

  18. kareem switching teams probably contributed as well but no debate of goat is legit if it doesnt mention the guy with the scoring record(s): kareem(career) and wilt (game)

  19. Warren Wee Lim May 19, 2013 at 4:29 am

    The rule on sign-and-trades for teams above the tax apron is that “we” cannot receive players via sign-and-trades. Meaning no FA this season can be signed-and-traded to the Lakers or any other above-the-apron-taxpaying-team.

    In the case of the reverse however, we are allowed to sign-and-trade Dwight Howard, and or wherever applicable.

  20. Warren Wee Lim May 19, 2013 at 4:40 am

    From the other thread:

    Trading is a tricky matter, esp with the rules the NBA has in place for it. You cannot trade 19M for 5M if both teams are over the salary cap. If one team is under the cap, they cannot be over the cap by 100,000 by virtue of the deal. If the other team is far enough below the cap, thats when it could work.

    In a supposed Pau deal, the Lakers would need to find a partner that has:
    1. cap space to absorb a portion of his salary
    2. A contract or two to send us that would total to 18.9M.

    Finding a lottery pick for Pau, notwithstanding the 2 pre-requisites is hard enough. Getting a top 14 pick along with contracts and cap space (in the form of a traded player exception) would be ideal.

    As quite a few have mentioned here, we need to look for teams that are motivated to rent Pau out for 1 year, perhaps the combination of his expiring salary and his ability to bring veteran leadership would entice them. On the other hand, I am convinced that we can never get full value. But less-than-full value, for as long as the requisites are met, I would agree to.

    Minnesota might be interested. Not delving into particulars but the presence of Rubio on their team as well as an injury-laden frontcourt might force them to make a change.

  21. Warren Wee Lim May 19, 2013 at 5:08 am

    In 2014, when the contracts of nearly everyone not named Steve Nash and Dwight Howard would have expired, the Lakers face a crossroad. Here are common misconceptions I have noticed from our commenters that I would like to help correct:

    1. By 2014, whats on the Lakers books will be Steve Nash’s 9.7M salary and what would be Dwight Howard’s year 2 salary pegged at 22 Million. A total of 31.7M in total salaries, do not immediately equate to cap space as the team’s free agents continue to occupy a portion of the payroll in what is called a “cap hold”.

    2. Our own free agents have varying amounts of cap hold. These amounts are often more than the amount of the final year of their salary. That means, Kobe would have a cap hold of 30 million. Pau Gasol, 19 million. And so on…

    3. Unless these players sign a new contract with another team shall their cap holds remain hanged on our payroll. Making it technically impossible to sign anyone via cap space. The 2 other choices are if we sign them ourselves to new contracts (thus taking up space) or we renounce them, meaning we no longer possess our free agent rights to them.

    4. Kobe’s health status further complicates matters. IF he were healthy and not thinking of retirement, the most ideal course of action is to negotiate Kobe for an extension of significantly lesser amount. This would constitute the “paycut” that everyone refers to. But because of yet another rule in the CBA, the over-36 rule, the ability of free agents to sign huge contracts have been limited.

    5. Just because we have an estimated 28+ million in cap space does not automatically mean we have our next franchise star. You would have to know which guys are would-be free agents in 2014 to be able to assess which ones have the possibility of signing with us, if at all.

  22. Looks like Phil Handy is gone too..

    http://www.cleveland.com/cavs/index.ssf/2013/05/lakers_coach_mike_dantoni_spea.html

    That leaves us with Dan D’Antoni and Steve Clifford, who’s interviewing for head coach vacancies.

  23. In terms of Kobe’s recovery, the biggest challenge for him is that with this particular injury, there are stages where NOT pushing yourself and NOT overworking it are the key to recovery. That will be a challenge to Kobe. And it means, for once, his legendary work ethic will be less of an advantage for this particular surgery.

  24. Surprised so many pundits are taking the Spurs. I like the Grizz. Marc Gasol is a monster. We won 2 with Pau, but little Gasol is so good it actually makes me wonder if we could have ended with the same result just keeping Marc. Unlikely, and impossible predict, but fun to think about.

    In response to one of rr’s posts in another thread – Andrew Wiggins is a monster. I haven’t felt this strongly about a high school prospect since Derrick Rose.

    WWL’s point about the cap holds is a good one, but I always assumed they’d renounce Kobe as they wouldn’t need his Bird Rights. He’ll be taking a pay cut so we wouldn’t need the extra money or years afforded by Bird Rights.

  25. Warren Wee Lim May 19, 2013 at 9:23 am

    Tom Daniels, I agree. I think its harder for Kobe to do nothing than to exhaust himself.

  26. WWL: All true which is yet more evidence why signing DH is make or break.
    Meg: So what are you saying? Are there more D’Antonis hanging around waiting to be hired. We have a 1/2 dozen people named Buss, why not get a half dozen D’Antonis? : )
    rr: Not to belabor a point, but I want to see if you know something I do not. You said the problem was that we did not replace Shannon and Barnes. How could we? We could have signed them for the money they were wanting, but replacing them, we would have been back to the mid level or minis would it not? Always easier to sign your own guys than to get other teams players – hence why you don’t let decent players walk.
    Phile/Kobe/MJ: Not sure what the haters are looking for here. Kobe is the third best of all time behind MJ and KAJ. What did Phil say differently?

  27. And a reminder to root against the Spurs. We do not want Pop and Duncan to get #5. As further incentive to do so, please be aware that if the Spurs win – it will just fuel the coaching discussion, as no doubt everyone will start talking about how great Pop is. By the way – why have just a handful of coaches won all the titles? It’s either superstars or coaches (or both) who are the key to the league (I stayed up all night figuring that one out).

  28. As mentioned above, not bringing Wilt into the GOAT conversation is sort of silly. All this is why the GOAT conversation is really a dead-end game. There is no GOAT. There are only the most dominant players in their time. Getting more statistics to prove your point only emphasizes why people need to see others play to really get a feel for how dominant they were in any particular era.

    It is really going to frustrate some of the middle-aged people, who followed Michael Jordan since they were little, when youngsters start to downgrade his accomplishments in 10 or so years. You will just become overly upset and it won’t change the fact that these people will be emphasizing Lebron or some other yet-to-become star as being clearly the best. Not only that, but these people will be in the majority of those commenting. That is why us ‘old farts’ find the GOAT conversation tiring.

  29. Regarding Phil’s Book:

    Between this and his unnecessarily bringing up Kobe’s trade demand at Dr. Buss’ memorial, I don’t like what I am seeing from Phil. Anyone paying attention to Phil over the years knows he thinks Jordan was overall better than Kobe. That is no surprise. And most would agree. It just seems that for the second time now Phil is piling on Kobe in order to sell a book. Having read his book on the Bulls “Sacred Hoops” I know Phil sanitized Jordan’s image in that book. So much has come out over the years about Jordan’s conduct that it is hard to believe the good guy next door image Phil presented of Jordan. Yet, when it comes to Kobe he seems to go the opposite direction.

    Phil has god-like status among most Laker fans. Success can do that. However, he often comes off as manipulative, calculating, and most of all disingenuous.

  30. How could we?

    Well, first of all, Ebanks made about as much as Barnes did last year. Both of them played for a little over 1M, so they did simply try to replace Barnes with Ebanks. I was leery about that but understood it; in any case, it didn’t work out. And, second, like I said, the FO made a deliberate decision to sign Kapono, who has not played a minute in the NBA since the Lakers got rid of him and who will never play in the league again. Whether they could have gotten someone as good as SBrown for the minimum…hard to say. But there really are, and were then, guys in the DLeague better than Kapono, who had pretty much already established that he didn’t belong in the league.

    They have now replaced Brown with Meeks. Meeks is better from the arc, but Brown is bigger, better on D and more athletic.

    So, it goes back to what I have said many times: the FO gets the big things right, but has had trouble with the little things, and the little things matter and add up. You tend to dismiss the differences among most of these third and fourth-tier players –“vagabonds” “problem children” “garbage”, etc. It’s OK if you want to do that, but Buss and Kupchak need to be more attentive to the matter.

  31. TRogers,

    Fair points, but Phil has always used the media to poke players (Pau and MWP come to mind– as well as using it to poke opponents and refs) and even people who admire him have said that he is manipulative and can be very devious.

    My guess is that his comments are honest and reflect his actual opinions and emotions and at the same time, yes–he is just trying to move some product. Much has been made over the years about how Jordan and Kobe never won without Phil and rightly so, but that goes both ways. Phil was just a retired guy with a DLeague resume and a quirky personality and by his own admission, little knowledge of Xs and Os–until he got to coach Jordan. He was already Big Chief ZenMaster when he met a 22-year-old Kobe Bryant. It is understandable that he sees Jordan differently than he does Bryant.

  32. Phile/Kobe/MJ: Not sure what the haters are looking for here. Kobe is the third best of all time behind MJ and KAJ. What did Phil say differently?

    Phil didn’t rank anybody, but he did basically say that Jordan was both a better player and a better leader than Kobe. You may or may not care about that, but it is going to generate a lot of conversation, and Phil knocked Kobe pretty good in a couple of those quotes.

  33. rr,
    Many people may give their opinions honestly. That doesn’t mean they are any less right or any less wrong. As both of you has mentioned, Phil was/is a master at manipulation – particularly of the press. Unfortunately the press is not only easily manipulated, but many fans don’t do their homework and rely on these same individuals to to a lot of their thinking for them. A natural product of a 24/7 news cycle, where there is so much information that you search out that which fits your biases and discard the rest.

    There is no real reason to think that Phil has appreciably changed – his skills and talents only add to the damage he can do through this manipulation. This doesn’t make Phil a bad person, but he certainly isn’t a god who can do no wrong and is the font of all wisdom. He is one more informed party who should be included in any analysis of this sport.

  34. Snoopy

    With all due respect it’s not impossible to predict at all. While I share your admiration for Marc, without Pau we would have zero rings and maybe even no trips to the finals. First the Marc Gasol we see now has only been this good the last 2 years or so. He wasn’t even in the league for the 1st finals run.

    Second It;s easy to forget how good Pau was during those finals runs. Nearly 19 points a game. 9.5 boards 3,5 assists. Over his career Pau has put up hall of fame type numbers and probably will make it in. Marc has yet to be that good. In fairness Marc has built his rep on defense and it is well deserved but while Pau has never been as good defensively, during those title runs in his prime he was a very under rated defender.

    And finally where would he have played. He is strictly a center while Pau can also play the four. When healthy Bynum was actually a better center then Marc. Of course that wasn’t often but his numbers his last year as the 3rd option were also better then anything Marc has ever put up. Marc more then likely would have been coming off the bench when Andrew wasn’t injured. Kwame Brown and a 2nd round pick playing in Spain for an all star? I do that trade every single time.

  35. RR,

    You’re right. It was with Jordan and the Bulls that he became “Phil Jackson”. I’m sure he looks on those days with more nostalgia than he does with his more recent success in Los Angeles. Plus, there has never been any public falling out between him and Jordan. The same can’t be said for with regard to his relationship to Kobe.

    It’s just that between this and his “rumored” demands for wholesale control of the team in order to coach again, I have to give Phil a side eye. When Phil talks I never take his words at face value. There is always an ulterior motive. On the one hand that has helped make him a great coach. On the hand it makes it hard to take his words seriously.

  36. Question. Are NBA referees the worst in professional sports? Ginobili loses the ball at the end of the quarter and the refs give him 3 shots with .6 seconds left on the clock.

  37. Regarding Phil/Kobe/MJ,
    My problem with these particular quotes is that it just seems so contrived. They are out there in the media precisely to gin up controversy and sell books for Phil or generate page hits for ESPN. Phil Jackson was/is perhaps the greatest coach in NBA history, but as a retired guy- he seems to have learned quite a bit from the Henry Abbott’s of the writing world. In other words…he rode MJ and Shaq/Kobe to 11 titles and now he’s riding MJ/Kobe to millions of book sales.

    And yeah, I realize that sounds pretty harsh, but there is seriously no reason to do this unless it’s all about the money.

  38. Phil’s book after the 04 season, his jab at Kobe during Busses ceremony and now. Phil always finds a way to start a controversy with Kobe. He speaks real highly of Shaq and MJ and almost reluctantly gives Kobe props. I don’t know where they’re dissension stems from but a few things are set in stone. Shaq got here in 96 and Lakers didn’t win jack until Kobe grew and Phil got here. And Kobe is the 2nd best SG ever and that is likely as set in stone as the guy who owns the #1 spot. Sad thing is Phil, Shaq and Fisher get as much love or more than Kobe and they turned their back on LA.

  39. Kevin: Fisher did not turn his back, rather he was stabbed in it (sorry MannyP someone else brought it up again).
    Kobe/MJ: At this point even I have to agree with Phil and give the nod to MJ, although I agree with Craig’s comment that the more equitable thing to do is to pick the best from each generation. Working backwards, those would be Kobe, MJ, Magic, Kareem, Wilt, Mikan (lots of Lakers). Magic, MJ, and Mikan were loved. Kobe, Wilt, and Kareem were not.
    T Rogers: ” I have to give Phil a side eye” Well yes – I understand your point. However a side eye is better than the fact that I have trouble looking at MD at all : )
    rr: You left out “Youngsters”. In any case title contention is decided by your superstars and your coach. All of these others can make a difference between 1st and 2nd, but not between a 7th seed and a title. About 85% of our fate is with DH, KB, and MD. Hence why I pound the drum on all topics related to them. If that 85% is not working, being successful in the secondary categories does not help, unless you are playing for respectability. That said I agree with your criticisms of the handling of the bench/role players by Mitch, Jim, and MD. Also, in the last few years, we have not gotten the big things right and that is a combination of bad luck (Veto and Injuries) and self inflicted wounds at the coaching spot.

  40. Robert,

    I am OK with that, but “pounding the drum” is an analogy that you should remember–that banging can get a little annoying at times when you do it every day. Everyone realizes that whether Howard stays is more important than what 2/3 they get for the mini-midlevel.

    As to Fisher, there were some reports to the effect that Fisher would not have quietly surrendered his PT to the Sessions/Blake combo, and the FO thought that he would therefore be a disruption. Given Fisher’s unusual career arc, it is certainly understandable that he still sees himself as a guy who should be playing ahead guys like Blake and Sessions, but he really isn’t, and wasn’t.

  41. Robert: can’t fault fisher for taking the money in 04. He never critisized anybody on his way out something Phil and Shaq couldn’t help but do. I didn’t agree with the trade at the time either but can’t forget he bolted for the Warriors.

  42. OK Kevin – I am with you. In any case, your other point is that Kobe is a Laker for Life. Or at least I think he is. After waking up to headlines about Vetos and clandestine coach signings, who knows what could happen?

  43. Kapono was signed over Gerald Green who would have been a worthy replacement for Shannon. IIRC Brown said the front office wanted Kapono.

    Barnes claimed he would not have re-signed because of Mike Brown. Whether he was even offered an opportunity to return is unknown to me. Why Ebanks was considered sub-par to the point that he was locked in solitary confinement is also unknown. Subsequently, Ebanks was kept instead of Eyenga (who got cut from Orlando) after Ebanks didn’t sign his deal until after the Howard trade.

    Those in charge have opted for old and slow ever since swapping Artest for Ariza (and letting Farmar walk) which got them one more championship but also has led to where the team is now. An old-slow team is not a guaranteed loser as long as they played to their strengths. Injuries (mainly) mixed with ideological issues sealed the deal for ’13.

  44. “For me, I’m going to do what’s best for myself, what’s going to make me happy. At the end of the day, I can’t control who likes me and who dislikes me but I have the right to be happy. That’s what I’m going to do. That’s the biggest thing right there.” – Dwight Howard

    Any shock he’s now reportedly stating he’s “intrigued” by Dallas and Houston?

    If the guy wanted to stay in L.A., there’s nothing more that can be said or done to improve the Lakers’ chances of keeping him. The only options left for him to consider are those that lie elsewhere, so the longer he drags this out, the more clear it becomes he’s not in it to win it in L.A.

    He’s shown no loyalty to fans or teammates previously. Don’t be shocked if he bolts for Texas or Georgia this summer, where he can be “happy” without living under the burden of playing for fan bases who actually expect things like responsibility, commitment, leadership, oh, and winning.

  45. Hale,
    “…which got them one more championship but also has led to where the team is now.”

    That championship is nothing to sneeze at. There are plenty of franchises in the NBA who would trade our last years for a single championship. We knew the probability that the end of Kobe and Pau’s deals would be tough to live with when they arrived, but we all felt the front office was doing its job by signing them. It is sort of disingenuous to be complaining about any of those decisions now. At the time Shannon Brown wanted to be paid, but we couldn’t pay him what he thought he was worth. Barnes flamed out in 2 successive playoffs (now 3) and many of us thought Ebanks was a better bet to become another Ariza – although Ariza has been a journeyman since he left us. Some people disagreed with some of those decisions at the time, but to claim they were universally dumb in hindsight just isn’t presenting the facts correctly. Every organization makes some mistakes every year and ours still has a better track record than anyone except perhaps San Antonio – which is why their front office people are populating a number of other teams right now.

    What chaps me is that there seem to be very few “middle of the road” comments and people want to throw everything “under the bus”. Relax, the Lakers have never progressed by panicking.

  46. , but we all felt the front office was doing its job by signing them.

    ____

    Yes and no. It was pretty clear at the time that the deals were probably a year too long and too expensive, and some of us said so then. But, at the same time, we are talking about Kobe and Pau, and there was certainly not loud criticism of the deals.

    As to the rest, you are correct about Ariza and Artest/Metta. Ebanks/Barnes was questionable, but reasonable, and it turned out to be a misfire. Kapono was objectively dumb, and arguably so was Troy Murphy. McRoberts seemed to make sense, but MBrown didn’t seem to like him. Steve Blake’s deal was obviously too long and a bit too expensive, and I said so at the time. Jamison and Meeks were reasonable, but it was clear then that the team could have issues on D, and that those two guys might make that worse, and I and others said so then. This is not all hindsight. I was strongly in favor of Sessions and I still agree with the Jordan Hill deal.

    Hale is slanting things, but he is correct, as many people have noted, that the FO has fallen into a pattern of adding age and getting less athleticism on the roster. That pattern needs to change.

    Also, again: this is not the same FO that it was 3-5 years ago. Ronnie Lester is gone; several of the old scouts are gone. Jim Buss has replaced his dad as the final word. Yes, the old man was probably involved, but his health was failing and Jim was and is officially running the show. Kupchak is still there, of course, but pointing at the track record is not really a sound approach. The best defense of the current FO set-up is simply that it landed Paul, Howard, and to a lesser extent, Nash.

  47. I don’t think everything is rosy and, yes, the front office did make mistakes. But we were headed in a rebuild direction when we resigned Kobe and Pau – we knew that, but were fine with it if it yielded us any championships – it did. I don’t really think we could have signed the people we did if we decided to go ‘on the cheap’ and offered less years – that is too much like Clipper thinking (at least Clipper past).

    I don’t think anyone would argue with our needing to get more athletic and aggressive on the defensive end. I like all the discussion of who would fit that mold. I just have a problem with the coaching ‘hate’ and the idea that we can sign a ‘turnaround’ player this summer – the coaching is pretty much determined and we are not in a position to attract people this year. The last CBA made sure of that.

  48. Kobe weighs in on Twitter:

    Kobe Bryant ?@kobebryant 18m
    Really?? Me. Retire?? Soon, but not yet
    Vino still has work to do #35 #OG
    #kbvff

    Kobe Bryant ?@kobebryant 17 May
    The comparisons are #apples2oranges Wonder what the perception would be if M played wit @shaq instead #differentroles #differentcareerpaths

    ____________________________-

  49. rr
    ##Kobe Bryant ?@kobebryant 17 May
    The comparisons are #apples2oranges Wonder what the perception would be if M played wit @shaq instead #differentroles #differentcareerpaths##

    Exactly. Could MJ and Shaq have co-existed? Would the media have talked crap about MJ putting up his career average of 23 shots a game alongside Shaq? Would he have been the leader of the team with Shaq around? I would have loved to hear the story of MJ –the greatest teammate in the history of teams– taking a swing at Shaq like he did Steve Kerr.

    Kobe plays at least 2 more years.

  50. People won’t downgrade Jordan in 10 years, or even 20 years. The opposite will happen. His legend will grow. Jordan is in the rare care class of icons like Babe Ruth and Muhammed Ali whom transcended the sport. Not even the Bobcats can sully his reputation. He had a storybook career that started as he had the game winning shot of the NCAA championship game and ended (in people’s minds) when he had his last shot as a Bull to win his 6th championship.

    His last 6 full-seasons as a Bull resulted in 6 championships. It’s unbelievable.

    I don’t know what will happen with Kobe, but i think that even at 100% pre-injury, they would not be a championship contender. His defense has really slipped. He just doesn’t have the juice to play both ends of the floor consistently anymore.

    I know the Lakers will honor his service by keeping him, but it’s going to draw out the rebuild even longer. They might get to be a playoff team, but they are kind of off the rails at this point.

  51. I think another perspective in understanding the reach of Michael Jordan’s enduring popularity is that from 1954-2012 Sports illustrated has a list of athletes with the most covers:

    Kobe has 17
    Lebron has 18
    Kareem has 22
    Magic has 23
    Tiger has 24
    Muhammed Ali has 38
    Michael Jordan has 50

    Jordan is bigger than basketball

  52. James,
    Glad you have the numbers to prove you are right.

  53. SI Covers: The cool thing about James’ list is that 5 out of the top 7 are NBA players and 3 of those are Lakers.
    Craig W: I was on board with all the major player acquisitions the FO executed. I agree with you that we can’t second guess in hindsight due to injuries and other matters. The players we let go and did not replace are another matter. Whether you focus on the letting go part as I do, or the failure to replace part as rr does, the fact is, we did not execute in that second tier area. The MWP for Ariza thing is definitely not on the list of mistakes, so I agree with you there. People forget Ron’s contributions inclusive of Game 7.
    “the coaching is pretty much determined and we are not in a position to attract people this year” – Well you said quite a bit in that sentence : )
    rr: landed Paul, Howard, and to a lesser extent, Nash.” – Well no we did not land Paul as unfair as that was. Nash is someone we really don’t want factoring in his contract now (3 years was too long). And have we “landed” Howard or did we just rent him? We will see.

  54. Hello all, I really love Phil, and he is the best coach ever by curriculum, but really the players are who play. Between Phil, Jordan and Kobe, it is always going to be Jordan or Kobe. And it is an interesting debate, but true is Kobe is right, apples2oranges. You can not compare playing for the Chicago Bulls pre Jordan, not even the Chicago Bulls post Jordan, to playing for Los Angeles Lakers. And then different ages entering the NBA, different players around them, different media enviroment, pre and post Internet, different times really…
    Really only parallelism is the coach, and Phil is taking full advantage of it. You can not argue Phil is a smart guy.
    Then you can compare, or try to compare, the player skills, and there it is not clear who is better, there are arguments for both cases.
    I do not believe Jordan is the perfect human being some people try to sell, neither Kobe is the devil same people say he is. I prefer Kobe since he is a Laker, but really both are great players, probably the best ever to lace them up.
    The good thing is that Kobe is still playing (that is not true for a while but you get the point) and playing at an amazing level. Really that was one of the best years I have seem Kobe, he impressed me more tan ever in his 17th season. Someone said here that Kobe is really a new Kobe every year, and that is true.
    One thing I agree with Phil is that Jordan is a born leader, with great social skills, but them I have seem Kobe transform himself in a true leader, and players do follow him. And he has create his own leadership style, mainly he leads by example, and he has a madurity which you can see on his reactions, answers, words…
    And who is mentally tougher?, a teenager who came to the NBA, to the team which is always in the spolight and defied the most dominant center in the league or a grown man who had the time to learnt in a team with no expectations and who never really had a threath internally…

  55. T. Rogers…

    Very good post regarding Phil. I agree with every word of it. Phil just strikes me as self-serving; first and foremost.