Kobe’s Mixed Messages

    There are moments in life that you can recall exactly where you were and what you were doing.

    I remember when Magic Johnson had to retire.

    It was a Thursday afternoon in November, and I was picked up by carpool and headed home to watch Saved by the Bell. I walked in the house and there it was on the TV “Magic Johnson Retires.” I thought it was a misprint, just like when I first saw the ESPN scroll that Kobe Bryant was arrested.

    Just like all Lakers fans, I was crushed. Magic stated “”This is not like my life is over because it’s not,” … but to all of us Lakers fans, our life felt “over.” That was it. No more Magic.

    I will never forget that feeling I had as a kid, and it wasn’t until late May 2007 when that feeling resurrected.

    I remember driving in my car to work when I heard on ESPN radio that Kobe had an announcement to make. It was labeled “Breaking News,” so I had a feeling it was not going to go well.

    I called LD2k and we were on the phone together when he said he wanted to be traded; that he would rather play on Pluto. We couldn’t believe it… it couldn’t be true. My first thought was how the hell did we go from Get Garnett to Keep Kobe?

    Well, we all know the story and the way #24 has gone back and forth on his trade demands. A couple weeks later on Kobe’s official website (KB24.com), fans comments were posted on his Truth section that supporting him leaving the Lakers. Then “A New Road Ahead” was posted and updated daily.

    Furthermore, ESPN columnist Ric Bucher repeatedly stated that Kobe will never play for the Lakers again and he would rather sit out and force a trade than play for the purple and gold. All Lakers fans refused to believe it, but Kobe is Kobe. We all know how he is when he wants something, but would he really go as far as sitting out the season to prove his point and get what he wants?

    Rumors have had him meeting up with the Bulls in Chicago for an unofficial meeting.

    By the end of September, Kobe gets most of his salary upfront. So, with approximately 70% of his salary paid before the season starts, is it really unlikely for him to sit out?

    We all witnessed the Jimmy Kimmel interview (8/8) when Kimmel told him that he as well as all of us wanted him to be a Laker for life. Kobe was visibly uncomfortable and mouthed only a “Thank you.”

    Fast forward a week later to TJ Simers “interviewing” Kobe in Vegas:

    Simers: Does that mean you will be at training camp?

    Bryant: I have no reason not to be.

    Simers: “Your guy, [ESPN's] Ric Bucher, says you will never play in a Lakers uniform again.”

    Bryant: You know what, man, we’ll see what happens.

    In the first answer he has no reason not to show up to camp, but then we’ll see what happens? Does that mean that he will show up to training camp and THEN sit out? Well, that was Thursday (8/16), and come Sunday (8/19) ESPN airs their “Sunday Conversation” with Kobe and Rachel Nichols.

    Nichols: You said one day you wanted to be traded, you said you wanted to be a Laker for Life. There were different phone calls back and forth.

    Bryant: I think a lot of people misinterpreted it. But that’s water under the bridge to me, because going forward, we’re handling our situation between ourselves, meaning the Lakers organization and myself. If things, if things were to be different, we both would have handled the situation a little differently.

    Nichols: When you look back on that, are you thinking … Oh God, what was I doing then?

    Bryant: Yeah, sure, it was just frustration. Frustration gets the best of everybody.

    And when asked about the Lakers Kobe stated:

    Bryant: This is my team. It’s the team I play for”

    To quote Eric Pincus: “Yeah, but for how long? What I didn’t spell out (from latest Hoopsworld article: The Powder Keg) is that Kobe is aware of the situation – that the team can’t improve unless he helps them by backing off.

    None of us know how this is going to play out.

    It is my belief that the Lakers are willing to gamble with Kobe by backing Bynum this season and hoping that he breaks out. In theory, if Bynum does break out this season, he and Kobe with Odom as a third option could dominate for years to come.

    As pretty as that sounds, the flip side is gruesome. Seeing Kobe’s face in Game 2 of the 2007 Playoffs was disturbing for me as a Lakers fan and Kobe supporter. When I watch that game, it makes me livid at Lakers management for ruining 3 prime years of his career.

    In my opinion, there have been 3 people who were born to don the purple and gold and be Lakers for Life: Jerry West, Magic Johnson, and Kobe Bryant. I don’t know if Kobe will be a Laker for life, but as Magic said in his retirement speech “Of course, I will miss the battles and the wars … But life goes on.”

    • MILO

      The way i see it, Kobe just made it clear to Jerry and Mitch that he is not going to waste his carrer in a team that is satified just by making it to the playoff’s (he wants some ring’s)When he asked to be traded he did it out of frutration.That was the only way he was going to show them that he means business.And now that he has done that, it is time to move on and let Jerry and Mitch get to work on improving the team.I dont know why! but i still have faith that when push comes to shove Jerry and all the idiot’s will do what they need to in order to improve the team and keep Kobe!!!

    • keep24

      “In theory, if Bynum does break out this season, he and Kobe with Odom as a third option could dominate for years to come.”

      In order for that to happen, it would mean that Bynum has to show a lot of heart – and that’s something he doesn’t have. You can go to the gym all the long and work on your jump shot, defense, footwork, lose weight, gain weight and so on …

      But you can’t get HEART over a summer break! No can do !

      No heart, no glory!

      Go ask Dirk Nowitzki if you don’t believe me…

    • MILO

      Faith is the last thing that one should loose!!!

    • Michael_23

      There may not be any trades that the Lakers will do this off-season. It’s Kwame’s, Bynum’s and Vujachic’s contract year. These 3 guys sucked the last half of the season. They better play extremely hard if the Lakers or other teams wants to give away millions of dollars to them.

      Again, only injuries will tell …

    • MILO

      Well i realy hope that everyone is 100% healthy next season,and that Bynum show’s major improvement in his game cause even if he is not the next Shaq or my favorite Howard! it will give the Lakers more leverage to pull off some trades in the deadline! IM KEEPING MY FINGER’S CROSSED SO THAT THIS KID WAKE’S UP AND SMELL’S THE COFFEY or we need to ship him out!!!!!!!!!!

    • MILO

      Im’ daydreaming that Bynum got as good as Dwight Howard and that Kobe-LO-Bynum and company won it all in 08 ha ha I wish!LOL

    • foxxy

      KOBE IS A LAKER FOR LIFE….AND YOU ARE RIGHT…BYNUM DOESNT HAVE THE KILLER MENTALITY…NO MATTER HOW HARD HE WORKS DURING THE OFF SEASON…ITS JUST NO THERE….WE STILL NEED SOME FIRE POWER ON THE FRONT LINE…DO SOME THING AND DO IT NOW!!!!

    • http://www.myspace.com/regg66 rpouncy14

      I dunno wat’s gonna happen.

    • ICE CREAM MAN

      The only problem Bynum has is that he strikes fear in NO ONE!!! I mean, the first rule in street ball is that when you are warming up before next game starts, you want the other team to see you MONSTER DUNK. This way, if there is a loose ball or something and Bynum gets his hands on it people will think twice before going up and contesting. That bit of hesitation/doubt is all it takes to posterize people and make a name for yourself.

      Now Bynum is nothing like that. When he dunks or blocks the ball, there is nothing…no HEART. I would love to see him raise his legs power dunk balls, scream with anger and show disgust of someone trying to go up on him.

      Maybe he needs to go to the streets and learn a little from people with heart. If anything, it would make him more valuable.

    • Michael_23

      haha Ice Cream Man,

      Maybe Bynum idolizes Tim Duncan. – - – showing no emotion.

      He needs to have more confidence in himself and be committed through 82 games and the playoffs.

      It’ll be interesting on how will have the most mins at the center position. The Lakers centers as of today are “okay.” But not great. There’s no one you can point at who can become the full time starter. Pre-season and coach Phil will only know that.

    • fatty

      Shane,

      Kobe has put all of us on a emotional rollar coaster for sure this off season. What will happen next?

      Add to the list Elgin Baylor. He wanted to help after his carreer but Buss didn’t want to hire him. Nobody knows why.
      As for Kobe, he sealed his fate with his tirade against Buss. But, it won’t really matter, he will have enough to buy the team when he retires. Kobe as an owner, will be very nice indeed.

    • sirtoken

      “It is my belief that the Lakers are willing to gamble with Kobe by backing Bynum this season and hoping that he breaks out. In theory, if Bynum does break out this season, he and Kobe with Odom as a third option could dominate for years to come.”

      I am going to flatly state the entire Laker near future is determined by how Bynum does this year! Think about the options.
      1. Bynum has break out year(15ppg/10rpg/3blks)- no trade is necessary, Kobe stays. Mitch looks great.
      2. Bynum stays the same/slightly better- trade bait for JO.
      Kobe stays if team not gutted in a JO trade.
      3. Bynum worse, a bust, trade leverage worse, Kobe looks to leave.
      So, the Lakers near future is in the hands of a 20year old!
      Does anyone have any info if this kid has done any improvement this offseason?
      Steve

    • laker bob

      As laker fans, what else is there other than frustation. Tough summer for all of us. This whole thing about Kobe and the Lakers is really starting to wear me down. The media loves to play on words and try to make you feel the way they want. If there was no suspense, no one would read or listen to all there crap. I know the media did not make up all the things Kobe has said and therefore it does fall on him. He only spoke for one day though. Most of what has been written from there has been either second hand or what they think might be happening. Lets just go by exactly what Kobe has said and not let others speak for him. He said that he would be at training camp. What else need be said. One thing I do know is that after listening to him talk with the gal from ESPN over the weekend, I can completly understand where he is coming from. I, once upon a time, trained professional fighters. It was very frustrating for me because I wanted to win so badly. I thought many times that I wanted to win more than the fighter himself. That is not good because you put in so much time and it is only for one reason, to win. If you heard Kobe this weekend, that is all you heard about caring to want to win. He said it himself, alot of players can deal with it, where he has a hard time with it. That is why we all respect him so much. He proves himself to all of us everyday, week, month, year that we have had the privlage of watching him. That is why Jerry West was so good, the will to win outwayed anything else. The problem is that most are not built that way. I do not think that anybody in our front office is like that. I am not putting them down because again, most are not like that. Few people in this world really have that pure honest drive to be the best we can be. When you are like that, others can look bad to you because you can’t understand why they are not giving it there all. With that comes why people can say you are hard to get along with, etc. That kind of drive can be respected but also the person with it has to understand that you are rare. Kobe sees, just like I saw, people around him just doing there job. Winnig is not a job, it is a attitude. I feel for Kobe. He just wants to win more than anyone else that he’s around. Hopefully the Lakers see that and try and bring in someone who has the same kind of drive Kobe has. If so, he will be fine and so will the Lakers.

    • cyrus

      Leave Kobe alone.

    • MILO

      sirtoken, its realy hard trying to keep up with all the informationt there is to read about here @ thelakersnation but i do remember reading about two weeks back that sometimes Bynum would even fail to show up to practice with Kareem.That to me is already a very bad sign, if a player cant even show up for practice, then like everyone say’s this kid has no heart or passion for the game.I dont know if that is still the case CAN SOMEONE LET ME KNOW IF ANYTHING HAS CHANGED SINCE THEN???I dont know maybe you heard something i havent so PLEASE LET ME KNOW ANYONE!!!

    • lakersfan17

      I know this isn’t the place but once again i was banned from the shoutbox.Im not spamming or being bad why do i always get banned?
      Email
      iluv2skate92@yahoo.com

    • Faith

      This isn’t really something that we can fully grasp until something…anything REALLY happens. By something/anything I mean either Kobe gets traded (please god no) or Bynum does.

      But I know one thing…the idea of trading Kobe makes me lose my faith, and turns me into a panic button pushing girl (not woman, girl).

      The very idea phsyically sickens me.

      But like all things in life, the cards need lie where they may. But if it helps, Kobe, please stay.

    • fatty

      This is a very interesting piece. The writer Chris Sheridan, gives his opinion, based on nothing, that he feels Kobe is sitting out of camp. Even though Kobe said, just a few days ago, to the LA Times, “that would be silly and makes no sense for me to sit out of camp.”

      Chris Sheridan was very familiar with the quote from Kobe, but for some reason ignored to mention it.

      The next day: Several news services carry the ESPN story, with the headline, “Kobe to sit out of Camp?.” So what do I do? I go to ESPN.com the NBA section, and guess what, They have a big box highlighted by this article, some videos, and some articles on Kobe. What a coincidence?

      Sheridan’s piece was nothing more than a promo, add, whatever, to get people to come to ESPN. Kobe sells, and ESPN will do anything, even make up something, to get people to their site.

      Chris Sheridan, normally a respected writer, makes a fool of himself by lowering his normally high standards to get a few people to visit ESPN.com

    • foxxy

      IM GLAD KOBE IS KEEPING SOME WHAT QUIET REGARDING THE LAKERS AND HIS STANCE…THE MEDIA WILL ONLY TAKE HIS WORDS AND TWIST THEM INTO SOMETHING WAY DIFFERENT THAN WHAT HE REALLY SAID…I TOO UNDERSTAND KOBE….I REALLY BELIEVE HE WAS CRAZED AFTER SEEING THOSE NOT SO GOOD TEAMS STILL IN THE PLAYOFFS(cavs,warriors) and HIS TEAM PUSHED OUT IN THE VERY FIRST ROUND…HELL, HE WANTS TO WIN….WHATS WRONG WITH THAT AND WANTING QUALITY PLAYERS ON YOUR TEAM…HE’S TIRED OF BABY SITTING THESE YOUNG PLAYERS…EVEN WHEN HE ENTERED THE LEAGUE THERE WERE VETERANS ON THE LAKER TEAM WHICH HE COULD DEVELOPE AROUND…IM SURE HE WISHES NOW HE WOULD HAVE HANDLED HIS ISSUES IN A DIFFERENT MANNER,BUT LIKE HE SAID,,,THATS WATER UNDER THE BRIDGE ..LETS MOVE ON!!!!

    • EastCoastJessie

      Kobe will be a Laker fo life! The Lakers organization will have to make some major moves if they want to stay significant in the league.

      Bynum’s development is definitely key to this season if the Lakers decide not to move him. The problem is that he just doesn’t have that killer instinct like Kobe and MJ.

      With a healthy Odom, a healthy Mihm, an experienced Fisher, and a dominant Bynum, we could be a force to be reckoned with. Let’s see how we do. Hopefully, Kobe will stay and wait too, otherwise, we’re in a lot of trouble.

    • EastCoastJessie

      [quote comment="12345"]IM GLAD KOBE IS KEEPING SOME WHAT QUIET REGARDING THE LAKERS AND HIS STANCE…THE MEDIA WILL ONLY TAKE HIS WORDS AND TWIST THEM INTO SOMETHING WAY DIFFERENT THAN WHAT HE REALLY SAID…I TOO UNDERSTAND KOBE….I REALLY BELIEVE HE WAS CRAZED AFTER SEEING THOSE NOT SO GOOD TEAMS STILL IN THE PLAYOFFS(cavs,warriors) and HIS TEAM PUSHED OUT IN THE VERY FIRST ROUND…HELL, HE WANTS TO WIN….WHATS WRONG WITH THAT AND WANTING QUALITY PLAYERS ON YOUR TEAM…HE’S TIRED OF BABY SITTING THESE YOUNG PLAYERS…EVEN WHEN HE ENTERED THE LEAGUE THERE WERE VETERANS ON THE LAKER TEAM WHICH HE COULD DEVELOPE AROUND…IM SURE HE WISHES NOW HE WOULD HAVE HANDLED HIS ISSUES IN A DIFFERENT MANNER,BUT LIKE HE SAID,,,THATS WATER UNDER THE BRIDGE ..LETS MOVE ON!!!![/quote]

      I agree with you 100%. I’m actually happy he’s staying quiet on this one. The media just can’t wait to twist his words. They even twist his silence.

    • fatty

      East Coast Jessie
      “Bynum’s development is definitely key to this season if the Lakers decide not to move him. The problem is that he just doesn’t have that killer instinct like Kobe and MJ.”

      I agree, he lacks the killer instinct we’d all like to see in a dominating center. But few NBA players have ever had the “killer instinct” like Kobe and MJ. Even Lebron says he’s lacking that desire like Kobe.

      If it wasn’t for Kobe’s outburst, maybe most of us would be pretty excited about this season. A healthy year, a Vladimir stroking from the outside, an improved Bynum, Mihm back, Kwame on a contract year, Fish keeping us consistent, Farmar with one more year of experience, and Critt perhaps giving us a few minutes. We might have a special year after all and advance a ways in the playoffs.

      Look how far Utah went with just Deron’s improvement and Boozer healthy. We can do even better with a break out year from Bynum.

      If Kobe starts to like this teams spirit, I’m confident Kobe will feel a heck of a lot better about the Lakers future.

    • foxxy

      WELL SAID!!!!