This is what leadership looks like.
Thanks Kobe. Thank you for saying what needed to be said. A lot of people do need to shut up. Pipe down. Be quiet. Shut their pie hole. Whatever slang term or expression you want to hear that describes this behavior is fine, because over-the-top overreaction truly sucks the fun out of sports.
In response to the spoiled masses that populate Laker Nation, Kobe’s rebuttal to the doomsday forecasters was both pointed and honest. By doing this Kobe accomplished two important things.
First, he just made Head Coach Mike Brown’s job a lot easier. People already come down hard on Brown anyway, and a slow start will empower those who aren’t in his corner. People are looking for excuses. Look, Brown isn’t Phil Jackson, so in comparison to the famed exploits of the Zen Master, of course he looks lesser. He is a defensive ace and has shown an ability to hide defensive weaknesses (something that will come on handy with Steve Nash) for both teams and players. But people don’t care about that. They want to be entertained and that means offensive wonderment, something in which Brown struggles. The Princeton Offense might not be the best fit for this particular team. Its focus on motion usually isn’t ideal for a team with two talented bigs (though Gasol has a skill-set congruent for this system), however, that remains to be seen. The NBA season just started on Tuesday. We don’t really know what this mix of players can do together, and we won’t know for weeks, if not months.
The second thing Kobe did with his declaration is put the focus on him. As he reminded everyone, he has multiple rings and has been in the grinder countless times. He’s gone through every scenario you can envision – high school prodigy, precocious rookie, overzealous scorer, been accused of biting Jordan’s whole style, champion, beef with teammates and coaches, petulant jerk – so it’s all on his resume. It’s not like Bryant can’t deal with the pressure, stress and overconfidence of Laker fans. People out in So Cal have had it so good, for so long, that any semblance that they won’t dominate is seen as an affront to all that is right in the world.
Kobe’s response should and most likely will cause the fans to relax. What are they gonna say? Kobe’s wrong? Or that Kobe isn’t qualified to make that sort of statement? It also allows Dwight Howard and Steve Nash a chance to cook without the next level negativity taking root. Yeah there’s gonna be nitpicking in the local papers, and if they suffer a bad loss to the Clippers, they might hear some boos rain down from the upper reaches of the Staples Center. But it won’t be too crazy. At least not right away.
This is a team being rebuilt and it's gonna take a minute before it looks good. Remember, the Heat started 9-8 in their first season together and they didn’t really start clicking until the spring. I expect the Lakers to take a similar path to their future glory.