Caught in the Web: Kobe Bryant adds a new chapter to his legacy
Kobe Bryant's four championships, league and Finals MVPs, a Beijing gold medal and 12-time All-Star appearances will remain forever in Lakers' lore. On Monday, he added a new chapter to that legacy, surpassing former Lakers great Jerry West as the organization's all-time leading scorer with 25,208 points.
It came on an otherwise disappointing night with the Lakers ending their eight-game trip with a 95-93 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies, a clear sign a lack of energy was part of the reason for ending the trip on a bad note. Nonetheless, the Lakers' (37-12) defeat will serve as merely as a footnote, while Bryant's new record will be longer remembered in the history books. Case in point, Bryant's not known to publicly dwell on statistics, but even he admitted surpassing West, a mentor and the man who signed him while serving as the Lakers' general manager in 1996, as "a great honor."
The milestone raises new questions on where Bryant stands among other Lakers greats.
Sports Illustrated's Ian Thomsen suggests Bryant may be the greatest Lakers player ever. ESPN Los Angeles' Andy Kamenetzky says it all depends what the criteria is. If it's on-court play, the award goes to Bryant. It off-court personality is part of the equation, Magic Johnson has the honor. ESPN's Michael Wilbon doesn't rank the players, but he lumped Bryant with Johnson, West, George Mikan, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Wilt Chamberlain and Shaquille O'Neal as the Lakers' best all-time players.
Fox Sports and SI also put together a list of all-time Lakers greats. Fox Sports ranks Bryant No 2. behind Johnson and ahead of Abdul-Jabbar, West and Shaq.SI's Jack McCallum compiles the Lakers' 12-man all-time team. And then there's West's own take. He may have said last year that LeBron James has surpassed Bryant as a basketball player, but he says Bryant is the Lakers' best all-time player.
After Bryant surpassed West's scoring record, we'll have to wait and see whether that also results in taking West's place as the NBA logo.
More Lakers links (after the jump)
-- The Memphis Grizzlies don't mind going down in Lakers history as the team Bryant faced when he surpassed West as the franchise's all-time leading scorer. The Commercial Appeal's Geoff Calkins says the team was just happy it didn't end with Bryant making a last-second game-winning shot.
-- Evidenced by an appearance in the 2008 NBA Finals and winning the 2009 league title, the Lakers' acquisition of forward Pau Gasol from Memphis did wonders for the organization. Though the trade was seen as very one-sided, ESPN Los Angeles' John Ireland points to Memphis' record (26-21) as evidence that the pickup including Kwame Brown, Javaris Crittenton, Aaron McKie, Marc Gasol and two No. 1 picks wasn't such a bad deal after all.
-- Gasol wasn't effective Monday against Memphis, however, finishing with 10 points on only four of seven shooting. He wasn't shy sharing his reason on why he and Bynum combined for only 15 points on five of eight shooting. Gasol told the Daily News' Elliott Teaford: "Obviously, we were not making a conscious effort to pound the ball inside." And what about Bryant's record-breaking night? "Now we can focus on winning again," Gasol told the O.C. Register's Kevin Ding.
-- Lakers Coach Phil Jackson wrote on a whiteboard all the remaining games before the NBA All-star break, including games against Charlotte (Wednesday), Denver (Friday) at Portland (Saturday), San Antonio (Feb. 8) and at Utah (Feb. 10). The O.C. Register's Kevin Ding reports "Jackson drew a line under the Utah game and wrote: 'Then we breathe.'" The Lakers may want to buy oxygen tanks before their face turns blue.
-- Simers and Ball Don't Lie's Kelly Dwyer agree on this point: Mamba is shooting way too many shots.
-- If Bulls guard Kirk Hinrich had his way, he'd stay in Chicago instead of wearing the purple and gold. "I would prefer to stay here," Hinrich told the Chicago Tribune. That decision may not be entirely up to him. Thought the organization credits his reliable 10 points and 4.6 assists per game and defensive toughness, the story says the team needs to make some "cost-cutting transaction" before the Feb. 18 deadline.
-- Let the negotiations begin. After it was reported the NBA plans to offer players "well below 50 percent" of league revenue, Lakers guard Derek Fisher, president of the players' association, says the union would never agree to such a proposal.
Tweet of the Day: "0 for 1 on buzzer beaters as a laker. [Expletive deleted] Next one" -- RONARTESTCOM (Lakers forward Ron Artest).
-- Mark Medina
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