Kobe’s Demands, Stern’s Hand Sure Go a Long Way in Lakers’ Title
Now that the Lakers have won their 15th NBA title in franchise history and we’re analyzing some of the angles of the championship, I’d like to dig up a few stories from the past. Amazingly enough, it was only two years ago that Kobe was saying he wanted out of LA. Bryant felt he was lied to by management regarding the team’s future plans and he wanted to win now, not later. His comments gave GM Mitch Kupchak a good ‘ol kick in the ass and made the message clear: give me more help. That was almost two years ago to the day, not long after the Lakers lost in the first round of the playoffs to the Suns. Well Kupchak responded by bringing in Trevor Ariza and Derek Fisher, one move ingenuous, the other by luck, and then a third fell in his lap.
The day Pau Gasol got traded to the Lakers it felt like things had been manipulated to get them back in the Finals. Gregg Popovich ripped the trade immediately and so did George Karl. Come on, Kwame Brown, Javarris Crittenton, and Marc Gasol all for Pau who’s a borderline franchise player? There’s no doubt the league did everything it could to make the Lakers more competitive. The move also proved one more truth about championship teams — you need several top notch players to win, not just one. Like Ray Allen said in ’04, you need two and a half good players to win a title. Kobe had a couple of years to average 30+ points per game but learned he couldn’t do it all on his own. Championship teams need several good players, not just one great one. Rather than fight it, Kobe finally embraced it.