Kobe Bryant considering playing overseas sparks continued debate
Every week, I sort out my inbox, refresh my Twitter feed and sift through the comments section to see what Laker fans are talking about these days.
There's no contest which topic is leading the discussion: Should Kobe Bryant play overseas? There's been ongoing developments with this issue, the latest being that he plans to meet with the Turkish basketball team, Besiktas, Saturday over the possibility that he would play for them during the NBA lockout. As soon as this idea popped up, I gave my immediate analysis on why this would be a bad idea, but the debate remains because the lack of a new collective-bargaining agreement.
So it comes as no surprise that most of the questions in this week's mailbag center on that very issue. (To keep this mailbag active, please e-mail questions at firstname.lastname@example.org or message me on Twitter @latmedina).
"The man should spend his summer resting and strengthening his knee.Why spend time playing over seas and add more wear and tear to his body. Stay home in the us,does he really need the money?" Kobe try organizing some game, or scrimmages,with your team mates and develop some chemistry.Which the team obviously didn't have during the playoffs." -- -- oclezy
I agree with you 100%, but Bryant remaining open to playing overseas doesn't have much to do with money. Sure, Bryant's looking to market his brand and provide additional income to offset the three-year, $83.5-million contract with the Lakers. But this surely has more to do with providing leverage to the players union while they negotiate a new collective-bargaining agreement. Remaining open to an idea of playing overseas is far different from actually doing so. Until I actually see Bryant put on a Besiktas uniform on, I highly doubt anything substantial will come out of the upcoming negotiations.
Your argument that Bryant should organize team practices is valid. But let's remember that we're still in July and in normal seasons most players are on vacation. Next month is a different story, as this is the time when players begin intense workouts. Should the NBA lockout bleed into the fall, it's absolutely critical that Bryant remain on the forefront in ensuring that the team practices together so that any learning curve under Mike Brown's coaching staff will be minimal.
"During the Shaq years, Kobe was uncoachable. In the last run Phil Jackson had with the Lakers, Kobe was compliant but when he slipped into his ball hog world there was little Phil could do about it at times. I think Brown kind of knows what he's in for." -- chuck wood
You raise a good point that Jackson's tenure with Bryant was hardly perfect. But I don't think anyone ever suggested that. What made Jackson successful was he knew when to pick his battles without being seen as a doormat. During the Shaq-Kobe era, Jackson mostly sided with Shaq for various reasons, including knowing Shaq's sensitivity and Bryant's standing with his teammates. But as much as Jackson deserves to be criticized for not being able to get them to at least tolerate each other, he helped minimize some of the problems that ultimately proved instrumental in the Lakers' three back-to-back championships.
During his second run as coach, Jackson deferred to Bryant to show him that superstar respect, but he never allowed him to stray too far. He picked times when to criticize Bryant's shooting tendencies, but Jackson never proved afraid in calling him out. It was always a dicey balance that I don't think Brown will fully grasp. He appears to be coming in trying to defer to Bryant by any means possible. It's good to give him that proper respect, but Brown must also be bold enough to keep everyone aware of who's actually in charge.
-- Mark Medina
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Top photo: Lakers guard Kobe Bryant continuously took a measured approach during the 2010-2011 season because of his injuries. Credit: Mark D. Smith / US Presswire
Bottom photo: Lakers Coach Mike Brown faces plenty of skepticism. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times