By Chris Le
Early Wednesday morning, NBA superstar Kobe Bryant demanded the Los Angeles Lakers to trade him. On Stephen A. Smith’s morning radio show, Bryant went on record saying there is nothing the organization could do to change his mind and that he’d rather play on Pluto than put on a Lakers uniform. The All-Star guard is apparently upset that his team failed to do what they promised him when he signed his contract extension three years ago, which was that they would make immediate moves in building a championship caliber team. Perhaps it was the Lakers’ failed acquisition of Kevin Garnett or Jason Kidd, due to their reluctance to surrender Andrew Bynum, or their recently poor playoff performances, or both, that has pushed their franchise player and themselves to the brink of divorce.
But amid all the hoopla, one thing is certain: Kobe Bryant isn’t going anywhere.
Lakers owner Jerry Buss should be put in a straight jacket if he even entertains the idea of trading Bryant, the most skilled player in the league and possibly the most complete scorer in history. You simply do not give up a talent of his level since nearly anything you would receive in exchange will not be of equal value. There is no other player in the NBA that possesses Bryant’s offensive prowess to take over a game. He is utterly unique.
And aside from Kobe’s on-court play, he perfectly fits in the Hollywood bill. He is not only a transcendent athlete but a genuine celebrity that can carry a large market such as Los Angeles’. Tinsle Town needs a big name and would never tolerate a team of relative nobodies. The only players that could possibly replace Bryant with no ill effects, performance-wise and economically, are LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. Though, the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Miami Heat would have to be as insane and stupid as Paris Hilton to accept such a deal. Simply put, the Lakers don’t want Kobe to go anywhere despite the unnecessary headaches he is currently causing them.
To be honest though, I don’t really think Kobe wants to go anywhere, either. As unhappy as he is with the organization’s present situation, his demands, as ESPN commentator Jon Barry suspects, could be a ploy to force the Lakers into making a move. (Note: This is possibly Barry’s first good, or should I say plausible, assertion in his broadcasting career.) If it is, it could conceivably work, but it’s definitely a tad shady. You don’t badmouth your boss and your team just because you’re having a hissy fit.
Let’s be straight here. Bryant is the man in Los Angeles and you better believe he has a high level of clout within the organization. Had he voiced disapproval or urged a particular plan of action, the Lakers would have listened with open ears. There were plenty of other ways Kobe could have approached the issue, but it’s hard to argue that there would have been a more effective one.
No matter what his reasons are, don’t expect Bryant to be in anything other than purple and gold for the next few years.