A fantastic article on Kobe Bryant and his leadership.
Yahoo! Sports: Privately, people wonder: How many more passes does Kobe Bryant give Pau Gasol for speaking so boldly about him? How long until Bryant’s public and private reprisal comes with a ferocity that could bring a 7-footer to his knees? All season, Gasol has been a relentlessly consistent, if not passively aggressive, critic of the franchise star’s shooting habits, of an offense that doesn’t deliver him the ball with the frequency that he wants.
“I believe in what I believe,” Gasol said.
Hours before Friday night’s victory over the Phoenix Suns, chatting on a chair inside U.S. Airways Center, Bryant let out a laugh and insisted there will be no public rebuttals. “I’m not touching that,” Bryant said with a smile and shrug.
Bryant could come out and say that Gasol had never won a playoff game until arriving to the Lakers. He could tell Gasol that the Lakers still had the NBA’s best record without him for a month to start the season. He could tell him to make a free throw in the last minutes of tough games, tell him to toughen up.
Truth be told, Kobe Bryant could tell Pau Gasol to simply shut the bleep up.
Only, Bryant doesn’t do it. Tempted? Well, of course. Yet, the reason for such restraint is simple: The Lakers desperately need Gasol, and a public chastising of him would almost assuredly reduce his fragile psyche to rubble, costing Bryant the player he needs to catch Michael Jordan and his six championship rings.
Bryant responds with polite, processed reason: He isn’t playing differently this season, he insists.
Perhaps circumstances have changed, but not him.