You can’t blame Kobe Bryant for looking and feeling a little surly these days.
On the eve of training camp and the start of the 2011 free agency period, the Lakers thought they had All-Star point guard Chris Paul in a three-team deal. Just hours after the CP3 trade began circulating, commissioner David Stern nixed the trade citing the NBA-owned New Orleans Hornets were not getting enough in return.
Days after the Paul trade fell apart, the Lakers moved popular teammate Lamar Odom, the reigning Sixth Man of the Year, to the defending champion Dallas Mavericks. How did Bryant react to the news? He said “I hope management knows what they’re doing!” Not exactly a ringing endorsement for general manager Mitch Kupchak and team executive Jim Buss.
Then, on Wednesday, the Clippers – the junior varsity team of Staples Center – landed the coveted Paul, and the Twitterverse started blowing up with plenty of chatter on how the Clippers have now surpassed the Lakers as the No. 1 in Los Angeles.
Two days later, on a very windy Friday afternoon in Southern California, TMZ reported that Kobe’s wife, Vanessa, filed for divorce citing “irreconcilable differences” and asked for joint custody of the couple’s two daughters. TMZ said Vanessa is ending the 10-year marriage because Kobe has been unfaithful.
Talk about a rough last 48 hours for the Black Mamba! No wonder he left Friday’s practice without speaking to the media and was extra terse with reporters on Thursday when he was asked about the CP3 deal to the crosstown rival Clippers.
Despite all the trouble in Lakerland, Kobe Bryant remains focused on the task at hand, which is to chase his sixth NBA championship ring and a 17th title to the Lakers franchise.
Bryant reportedly looks great in practice and his troublesome knee seems to be healing well. Bryant still has 7-footers Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum to lean on offensively and defensively, and he still has good friend Derek Fisher by his side when things get crazy in the locker room. Newly acquired forward Josh McRoberts is a terrific athlete who will add energy and punch off the bench, and could start on occasion should Bynum or Gasol gets hurt. And don’t think for one second that the Lakers are done wheeling and dealing. They are still in play to obtain All-Star center Dwight Howard and they are still in the market for a point guard.
There are lots of questions left to be answered for the Lakers, including how the team will function without Phil Jackson’s trusty triangle offense and how long it will take them to trust first-year head coach Mike Brown. But one thing is for certain, Kobe Bryant is still one of the best players in the league and he will never allow the Lakers to play second-fiddle to anyone, especially the Clippers.
Kobe will file all the negativity surrounding his life and use them as motivation. Don’t ever count out Kobe Bryant and the Lakers.
Joel Huerto is the editor and publisher of OneManFastBreak.net. Follow him on Twitter @onemanfastbreak.