Kobe Bryant is the greatest basketball player of his generation. No other active player in the NBA today can compare their resume to Bryant’s accomplishments. Five NBA titles, seven trips to the Finals, two Finals’ MVPs, one league MVP, four All Star game MVPs, two scoring titles, 11 All-NBA First Team selections, nine All-NBA First Team Defense selections, two gold medals, 1997 Slam Dunk Contest champion, member of the 30,000 point club, countless clutch shots and scoring 81 points in a game where his team was down by 19 points to the Toronto Raptors.
Bryant is on a level all by himself in today’s NBA.
The Los Angeles Lakers are the most accomplished franchise in the NBA. No disrespect to the Boston Celtics and their 17 banners, but along with the Lakers’ 16 banners, the Lakers have made 31 trips to the Finals while only missing the postseason five times in their franchise’s history. Bottom line, the Lakers have been contending for titles for almost half of their existence since joining the NBA in 1947.
That is a testament to their great leadership over the years in management by acquiring elite talent on the floor with players like Bryant including Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Shaquille O’Neal, Wilt Chamberlain, Jerry West, Elgin Baylor and George Mikan.
Management has also hired two of the best coaches to ever coach basketball in 11-time NBA champion Phil Jackson and five-time NBA Champion Pat Riley. The Lakers give fans of the NBA star quality, showmanship and championship level play year after year. So it is no surprise that Bryant was able to have one of the most prestigious careers in NBA history.
The combination of Bryant and the Lakers has made Los Angeles a marquee franchise for the NBA since they acquired him from the the Charlotte Hornets after the 1996 draft in exchange for center Vlade Divac. Bryant has gave just about half of his life to the Lakers organization with blood, sweat and tears, literally. The man is on his last legs.
With all the wear and tear on his body, Bryant sees the light at the end of the tunnel. We all remember the torn Achilles injury he suffered against the Golden State Warriors last April. So there is no telling if Bryant will return to the level of play that we as fans are accustomed to seeing.
After being swept out of the first round of the playoffs by the San Antonio Spurs, the Lakers head into the offseason with some concerns. Dwight Howard is a free agent come the first of July and he can walk away for nothing by signing with another team. The Lakers are also one of the most nonathletic teams in the league and the loss of Howard will only hurt them in that department a little bit more.
The thought of a possibility of both Bryant and Howard not in uniform on opening night next season could be disastrous. It is the Lakers job to ensure that if Bryant still needs time to heal and rehab by opening night, Howard is at the very least, signed and ready to play.
The Los Angeles Lakers owe Kobe Bryant another run at a title. He gave them 17 years of some of the best basketball anyone has ever seen, and now it is time for the Lakers to surround him with the right talent to have a shot at one more ring.
By securing Howard this offseaason, the Lakers chances of contending for a title increases, not so much for next season, but for the 2014-2015 season when only Steve Nash is on the books. A team of Howard, Bryant and the possibility of signing a Carmello Anthony or should I dare to say, a LeBron James, would instantly turn the Lakers into a legitimate championship contender.
Bryant deserves an opportunity to go out on top and if the Lakers make the right moves starting with the resigning of Howard, the “Black Mamba” might just get his chance.