Back in February of 2012, the Lakers were a team looking to find its way. Coming out of the NBA lockout, Mike Brown was tasked with coaching the team Phil Jackson departed, trying to pick up the pieces and re-form a group fractured by the attempted trade of Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom for Chris Paul.
Looking back, it was not an easy time at all. Not the lows the team is facing now, but a different sort of struggle where expectations to contend were still high, but coming in a condensed season with a group possessing insane numbers of miles on their legs, looking to achieve what was, in hindsight, well beyond their grasp.
That was the backdrop for comments that Kobe Bryant made to Stephen A. Smith about what his future might hold. Yes, those questions were popping up nearly 4 years ago, before the ruptured achilles, before the team’s plunge into the high lottery. Stephen A. wanted to know if Kobe might one day leave the Lakers to join a better team – a team which might net him that elusive sixth NBA Championship. Kobe shot that down pretty quickly:
“Why would I want to go somewhere else, that ship sailed in (2007),” Bryant said. “If there was ever a time I was going to move to go play someplace else, that was it. I’m not going to jump ship to chase a sixth ring, it’s just not going to happen. It’s going to happen here or it’s not going to happen.”
After Kobe said that, he also had this quote about how long he might play:
“You think I’d hang around and average 18 points, 19 points… hell no.”
We all know what is happening this season. I do not want to pile on Kobe, but his season has been poor. The numbers speak for themselves. I don’t need to paint them in vibrant colors or put them into historical context to sensationalize them. We watch the games, we know he’s not done well. He knows he’s not done well.
This is where that last quote comes into play. Kobe never thought he’d be this guy. He’s a career 25, 5, and 5 guy. The thought of him becoming a guy who would only be getting 18? No chance.
But, Kobe was wrong. And that’s perfectly okay.