Kobe Bryant has seen it all. Multiple MVP awards, Olympic medals, and five NBA Championships as well as a long list of credentials have made the "Black Mamba" one of the most feared players in basketball history. Bryant is so renown around the world, that on blacktop basketball courts young players yell "Kobe" when attempting a difficult shot.
Bryant's career is one of glamour and glory, and is considered to be one of the all-time greats. Kobe Bryant has seen it all, or at least that's what he thought before losing to the Chicago Bulls on Monday night.
This season's Los Angeles Lakers have become the worst Lakers team in the Kobe Bryant era after their recent loss to the Bulls. According to many coaches, analysts and experts their season is most likely over.
When looking at the Lakers starting roster, outside of team injuries and chemistry issues, this is a team that has a combined 32 All-Star appearances between four players. This is also a Lakers team that has gone through a different type of ownership under Jim Buss and, so far, has produced zero results during the current season.
Seven games under .500, four games out of the playoffs in the Western Conference, and a system under Coach Mike D'Antoni that has hindered rather than helped a regular contender for the NBA Championship. So far the Lakers' season is nothing more than a failure, a bust, a sham in the eyes of every Los Angeles fan that hasn't jumped on the Clippers bandwagon by now.
The Lakers can't be saved. I think they are gonna have to feel the taste of the bottom to get back up to the top! Gotta pay ya dues!
— BILL BELLAMY (@BILLBELLAMY) January 22, 2013
(Reported by the Associated Press).
"We're going to have to look at some things," Bryant said. "We're going to have to change something. Probably going to have to post the ball a lot more, slow the game down a lot more. That's just my intuition, but that's my gut right now. I have to take a look at the film again, but we're definitely going to have to change something."
The D'Antoni system is one that has lacked in giving a championship pedigree team the results they've desperately sought since acquiring Dwight Howard in the off season. Pau Gasol loses his starting job to Earl Clark, Howard is fighting back injuries and free-throw shooting struggles, and the gold trim titans are starting to fade more to bronze this season.
According to Howard, he believes the ball doesn't go through him enough on the offensive side of things, the Black Mamba thinks differently.
"I've tried to go out of my way to get him the ball," Bryant told Y! Sports. "Sometimes I end up looking like an idiot, because I get up in the air, I've got a shot, but I try to find him. But he thinks I'm going to shoot, so his back is turned. I'm trying to think about getting him the ball a lot -- take care of him as much as I possibly can. It takes me out of rhythm a little bit, but I'm fine with that. If that's going to help our team, I'm more than willing to do that."
Lakers fans can only be disappointed with the way their franchise has been run during the season. After enduring three different coaching changes, a bevy of injuries, and a tug-of-war contest between the egos of two All-Star caliber players, it's fair to say that the fans deserve better. The Lakers are third in the NBA in total home game attendance at the Staples Center (417,934) and if something doesn't change soon, those numbers may drop catastrophically.
So disappointing to watch the Lakers right now. They sucked the life out of me, and I'm just an analyst. Can't imagine how Laker fans feel.
— Steve Kerr (@SteveKerrTNT) January 22, 2013
Under D'Antoni's system, the Lakers have looked sloppy defensively giving up 101.4 points per game to their opposition, making them 26th in the NBA. The Lakers have given up a whopping 3,570 field goal attempts to opponents (27th in NBA), have fouled opponents 946 times (29th in the NBA), and have a 12.3 turnover percentage that ranks them as the third worse team in the NBA in that category. It's always been apparent that D'Antoni just doesn't know defense.
As Bryant left the court at the United Center, he may have realized that he had never been so far from the championship banners that hung from the rafters above him. Another night was lost, another disappointing performance, and on the coldest night of the year in Chicago, Kobe Bryant felt the taciturn touch of the chill and empty locker room. The dreams of chasing Michael Jordan's illustrious numbers, whistling in his mind like the frigid wind chill.