When the Los Angeles Lakers donated Lamar Odom to the defending champions and the Nets emerged as the frontrunners to acquire Dwight Howard, I wondered:
Are the curtains being brought down on the Kobe Bryant era in L.A.?
In spite of the fact that Byrant had publicly lobbied for both his former teammate Brian Shaw to receive the head coaching job and for keeping the championship nucleus together, the Lakers hired head coach Mike Brown without consulting the Mamba and attempted to blow up the team, twice.
Then, Los Angeles shipped a gift-wrapped Sixth Man of the Year to the Dallas Mavericks, and we all knew Kobe would be furious.
To put Kobe Bryant's frustration into perspective, he actually joked recently that he'd like to be traded to the Miami Heat and said of the Lakers: "I think we're terrible … we're going to be worse [than last year]."
Jokes aside, almost every comment out of Kobe lately is negative. His remarks range from sarcastic to fatalistic and his friend and ESPN insider Steven A. Smith appeared on SportsCenter and predicted that "Kobe Bryant will demand a trade, and I am not budging from that. He's livid. I've known Kobe too long. He is ticked off."
Smith added that: "It's not just because [the Clippers] got Chris Paul, which is a guy that he expected to have. It's because Jim Buss seems to be doing the inexplicable. … It makes no sense. It's one thing for the team not to have improved [after losing to the Mavericks], it's another thing entirely for them to regress. If you know anything about Kobe, that is the last thing that he wants to do."
Now, it should be noted that in a recent interview with Yahoo's Marc Spears, Kobe dismissed this notion. When asked if he wanted to stay a Laker, Kobe said: "Of course. No question. Why not? I've been here for 16 years. I'm going to up and leave now? … I've been with this organization. I like being here. I like playing for the purple and gold. This is where I want to finish up."
That said, I agree with Steven A.'s prediction, anyway. I remember back during the Shaq years and even a few years after, Kobe always maintained that he wanted to retire a Laker. Saying that--and even genuinely believing it--didn't stop a disgruntled Kobe from demanding a trade in 2007, however.
Now, with Pau offended by recent events, Bynum saying he doesn't really care where he plays and Kobe habitually usurped and disregarded by the Lakers' front office, I see this situation unfolding similarly.
Unless Los Angeles can trade for Dwight Howard or make other significant moves that make the team a legitimate contender, expect Kobe to demand a trade as soon as he starts feeling helpless again.
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