Quitter may be not be the right word, but few players of Kobe Bryant’s caliber have routinely suffered such humiliating playoff defeats and not been held accountable.Â Consider for example how every aspect of Lebron’s game and body language was dissected to the minute detail after each season ending defeat in Cleveland.Â Sure the NBA pundit choir eventually came around to the conclusion that Lebron needed more help in Cleveland if the Cavs were ever going to win a championship, but that was only after saying he was too passive, too playful or just not as interested in winning.Â Time and again we were told that Lebron doesn’t have a killer instinct like Jordan, or, Bryant.
Yet, whenever Bryant’s teams suffer embarrassing losses it’s always someone else’s fault.
When the Lakers were wiped out by the Pistons in 2004 the blame landed on the shoulders of Shaq, Karl Malone and Gary Payton because they were too slow to keep up with Bryant.Â No one bothered to give these three players credit for the team afloat while Bryant jetted back and forth to his court trial in Colorado.
Once Shaq, Malone and Payton were gone the narrative was that Kobe didn’t have enough help.
Now after making the finals three years in a row with Pau Gasol as his sidekick, LA fans are blaming Gasol for the team’s demise.
Yet no one seems to be taking Bryant to task for not being able to get his team to regroup and keeping them from falling apart.
NBA analysts seem to have decided to interpret Bryant’s petulance as intensity and use it as the barometer for which to measure the dedication of other young players to their craft.Â When in fact, what has really happened is that Bryant is still a spoiled brat, the only difference over the last decade is that we’ve gone from the Laker’s front office deferring to him, to the entire NBA establishment.
So instead of saying that Kobe quit, people blame Gasol, or my personal favorite, some have said one of the reasons that the Lakers lost to the Mavericks was because the Lakers are old and slow.Â Last I checked, Jason Kidd, Jason Terry, Dirk Nowitzki, Shawn Marion and Tyson Chandler are either as old and definitely as slow as anyone on the Lakers.
Dallas didn’t sweep LA because the Lakers were too slow.Â No, they beat LA because they have chemistry.Â For whatever reason the Lakers were not able to establish that same level of chemistry this season.Â The coach deserves some of the blame for not accomplishing this, but the team’s professed leader, its star player should by no means be held unaccountable for his team’s inability to execute simple defensive rotations.
Watching the Dallas series you got the sense that many of the Lakers were ready to go home.Â Ready for this season to end.Â Ready for someone else to be the champs.
Well they got their wish, even if they didn’t really want it to come true.