Are the Lakers Abusing Kobe’s Competitive Drive?

Photo by cbs sportslineGreed.  It is why there is a real estate crash.  It is why there is a banking crisis.  It is why there is a taxpayer funded bailout.  It is why OPEC is trying to raise oil prices again by cutting back production.

Greed is also why Kobe Bryant is injured.  Hopefully greed won’t be why the Lakers will not be in next season’s NBA Finals.

Playing in a preseason game against the Charolette Bobcats, Kobe Bryant left the game with 3:08 left in the 2nd quarter with a hyperextended knee.  The extent of the injury is not known.

Kobe Bryant did not speak to reporters after the Lakers victory, a weird thing to do after a victory — especially when it is a meaningless preseason game, and particularly if the injury is nothing to worry about.

Phil Jackson told reporters he had not talked to Kobe, so he couldn’t tell reporters anything about the injury either. Interesting. Why wouldn’t you ask about the health of your injured franchise player?  Did Phil not want to know that answer before talking to reporters?

Chances are the injury isn’t too serious, but that isn’t the point.  The point is it wouldn’t have happened at all, were it not for the Lakers’ greed.

Kobe shouldn’t have been on the floor to begin with.  Kobe Bryant should have had his finger operated on right after the Olympics, and sat out the preseason and the early games of the regular season. This would have:

1) given Kobe’s finger a chance to be well for the season,
2) allowed Kobe’s body to get some much needed rest, and
3) given Kobe’s teammates time to learn to win without him, a critical lesson the Lakers can only learn WITHOUT Kobe!

Not that I can blame Kobe for forgoing surgery and playing on.

Kobe is addicted to this game.  When he is not playing it, he is studying it, working on it, or lifting weights, etc.  A year ago at this time, Kobe Bryant, one of the most athletic people in the world changed his diet and lost weight to make himself quicker.

Just as it wouldn’t be reasonable to expect an addict to make a right decision, it’s unreasonable to expect Kobe to do anything other than forgo the finger surgery and keep playing — especially when you consider how tight the race was in the West for playoff spots.

The problem is, Kobe doesn’t have people around him that care enough about him to intervene and save Kobe from himself.

Dr. Jerry Buss, Mitch Kupchak and Phil Jackson know better and should have stepped up to insist Kobe rest, and fix his finger.  Instead, they turned a blind eye and rolled the dice with Kobe’s health so that Phil could get ring number 10, Jerry could keep the Lakers on top, and Mitch could further distance himself from the intense criticism he’s endured these last few years.

The Lakers are abusing the goose giving them their golden eggs.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Kobe Bryant has played 9,609 minutes in the last 3 seasons, more than any other player in the NBA.

And in the summers between those 3 seasons, Kobe Bryant played a critical role on TeamUSA, logging more minutes than any other NBA player as well.

And unlike Derron Williams, who is also out injured, Kobe had a very long post season last year leading the Lakers to the 2008 NBA Finals.

Not one of the Boston Celtics played for TeamUSA over the summer, they rested. How do you think they are going to compete against the Lakers if they end up meeting again after a grueling 82 game regular season and after 12 to 21 stressful playoff games?

Odds are, before all is said and done, Kobe is going to break down. He is a man, not a machine.

And say Kobe does manage to stay healthy all season and post season, if he is too fatigued to continue to perform at the extremely high level he has these last 3 years, Kobe will get the blame for sub par performances, not the Lakers.

The management of Michael Jordan‘s Chicago Bulls is roundly criticized for their mistakes, and rightly so, but when Jordan was out injured, they were guilty of resting him too much rather than not enough.

What the Lakers are doing with Kobe is unconscionable.

By the way, if you are tempted to comment that I am wrong, here is one last reality check.

1) Kobe has played more minutes in the last 3 years than any other player.

2) It’s not just the number of minutes Kobe played, but how dependent his team has been on his play these last 3 years. They’ve been intense minutes.

3) Kobe had a very long post season last season.

4) Kobe’s had grueling summers with TeamUSA.

5) Kobe is now 30 years old. That means more when you remember that 12 years ago, in 1996, Kobe Bryant was the youngest player to ever play in the NBA.

Now consider that in yesterday’s preseason injury:

1) Kobe was not injured due to hard contact with another player.

2) Kobe was not injured attempting an extremely athletic maneuver.

3) Kobe wasn’t even injured by accidentally coming into casual contact with another player like landing on someone’s foot, or banging knees with another player.

4) Kobe was injured just jumping for a simple rebound.  That’s it.

This injury is a FATIGUE injury.

Kobe Bryant NEEDS to rest his body.

  1. tophataltophatal12-23-2008

    Tom 7
    The Lakers need Bryant just as much as he needs them. They in reality can’t survive without one another.
    I think what we’re now seeing from Kobe is a maturity in the player that we’d not necessarily witnessed before. And at the same time the leadership qualities are now there naturally. Hopefully the younger players’ll benefit from this ?

    tophatal ………….

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