Farewell Tour on Failing Franchise”
Kobe Bryant has begun his final road trip thru the NBA, his career farewell tour, after 20-years of greatness wearing the Purple and Gold of the Lakers.
Pick any word you want, from brilliance to greatness, from grace to glory, from style to sizzle, and it all become synonomous with Kobe.
If the ‘ring is the thing’, then he accomplished lots, by being the superstar on 5-championship Lakers teams. If it’s about the bling, then he cashed in too finishing his run with a max 25M-contract.
His career was indeed full of explosive first steps to the basket, pull up jumpers, long range three point bombs, and every type of dynamic baseline drive, and push it into the paint baskets there are.
Kobe’s 81-point explosion is one for the record books, far more impressive than the 100-point night Wilt Chamberlain had for the Philadelphia Warriors back in the day.
You knew, any time, any night, any where, any opponent, he could go off for 50-or-60 points.
He was about the smile, the scowl, the finger wag, and the finger pointing.
The greatness of the man will be remembered, but the gall of the player is also part of his biography.
The years of back and forth with Shaquille O’Neal, and ‘who’s team was it really’? the struggles with Dwight Howard. the ugly coach issues, the freeze out by Karl Malone and Michael Jordan and others in his first All Star game, and of course, “Colorado”, the extra marital scandal that carried front page news forever.
He will be accused of running off Shaq, ending an era, that should have been allowed to go forward forever. His early battles with the intense and ever demanding Phil Jackson. The mess with Mike D’Antoni and Mike Brown and Rudy Tomjanovich too.
It’s sad to see what Lakers basketball has become. Yes you can reflect of the specialness of the player, but some feel the selfishness of the player hurt the club, as he took his last contract extension of 2Y-50M, in effect ending the hopes the Lakers could lure any free agents to help him finish out his career.
He’s not to blame for the (2-15) record his franchise was dragging around the night he decided to write his “Dear Basketball” letter, announcing his decision to leave. But his poor play, bad shooting, and suddenly laissez-fiare attitude about playing defense and heaving up shots, makes everything seem so much worse.
It was a bit unprofessional, as his team blew a 14-point lead, he was laughing on the court after missing shots, as his team lose to a 76ers team that was (0-18) and had dropped 28-straight NBA games over two seasons.
He’s not to blame either for breaking down, 3-injuries in 3-years, after all the minutes and the games he played for 20-seasons.
It may be awhile before we ever see this type of talent again in a Lakers jersey.
Farewell to something fabulous, even if it now plays on a failing franchise.
But in the tradition of Wilt and Jerry and Elgin, in the style of Magic, King James and Alcindor, Kobe Bryant was always part of the glitter that made the Purple and Gold special.