As the entire Dwight Howard decision was being followed on Friday night with his eventual announcement that he would sign with the Houston Rockets, Kobe Bryant took to social media to respond in a way a scorned lover would react to a breakup.
While the vast majority of Los Angeles Lakers fans have fully backed Kobe Bryant’s reaction, the failure to look at this situation clearly hides something very apparent: whether they want to admit it or not, Bryant is the main reason the Lakers are on a downward spiral from the pinnacle of the NBA.
Yes, Bryant has been and is one of the best players to ever play and no one can or should deny that. But, in recent years, especially last season, he showed that what made him a great player is also the main reason why the Lakers have struggled.
First and foremost was the fact that Mike Brown was fired five games into the 2012-13 season. While Kobe did not insinuate or want Brown out, the fact that the coach decided to implement and play a Princeton-style offense in order to placate Kobe took the ball out of the hands of Steve Nash to run the offense, and the team as a whole never looked like it had any flow offensively.
This continued even when Mike D’Antoni took over as coach, as Kobe essentially made Steve Nash become the de-facto shooting guard. Although Nash missed some time, he was no longer the one to initiate offense. This made Nash and the Lakers worse off as the team looked stagnant in offense and too over-reliant on Kobe.
Now, many Lakers fans will justify Kobe’s play last year and point to how his play helped the Lakers pull out a number of games which it appeared they were on the verge of losing. While this is true, this hides the fact that the best games the Lakers had where when Bryant had less than 20 shot attempts per game. and even despite his heroics, the team was still a seven seed at best and would have still lost in the first round of the playoffs.
Aside from his play, Bryant’s personality is also a big reason and will be for the Lakers downfall.
To put it simply, Kobe is a bully. His fans will naturally say that Howard could not handle it and ran away because he’s not as mentally tough as Kobe. Whether that’s the case or not, at this stage of his career, Kobe should know when to back off and not be so abrasive.
Whether it was commenting about Howard’s injury and needing to play during the season or challenging him in the meeting the team had to convince Howard to re-sign, Kobe’s abrasive attitude turned Dwight off.
Bryant says and claims he wants to win another title or two before retiring, but should he not be smart enough to tone down his communication to help facilitate that? Let’s be realistic; despite having a lot of cap room for the 2014 season, why would a quality free agent go to the Lakers when the aging “king” will not know how to abdicate the throne with grace?
While the Lakers and its fans may be of the attitude they are better off without Howard and Kobe can do no wrong, all this is doing is hiding the fact that Bryant is the reason for the Lakers’ decline and struggles to come.