Is Kobe leaving Los Angeles? Is his relationship with the Lakers front office heading down the same path as Ben's relationship with J-Lo? Did the Lakers intentionally decive Bryant to resign with the club with no plans to contend as soon as possible? Does he actually want to be traded or is he just bluffing? And why is he flip-flopping on this issue moreso than John Kerry?
Let me quickly answer those to the best of my ability: I don't know, but nothing other than the first questions is important.
Kobe talked about wanting West to come back. He's apparently doing the LA sports radio circuit now, or has been for the past few days. This soap opera, which could only happen here LA, is dominating the headlines all across the country (check out LA Times columnist JA Adande's final column about Bryant). And at this point, no one - probably not even Kobe himself - knows what the Lakers' superstar wants. He's talked about wanting out but also wanting to finish his career as a Laker. So which is it?
The Lakers should know by now that nothing good ever comes from trading away a top-tier player, let alone a superstar capable of dropping 50 points in a given night. If they think they can trade Kobe and come out ahead, they need to remember back to the 2004 summer when they traded that guy named Shaq. Turns out, he was just fine and the Lakers have won four playoff games in three seasons since.
Kobe may be upset, but whatever the situation, the Lakers front office needs to find a way to make Kobe happy. They can't trade him. He's the only marketable player on the team. Fans in LA won't pay top dollar to see crappy basketball. If they want to watch that, the Staples Center also features Clippers games -- and at a lower price to match the quality of the product on the court.
He's a great player. He's been part of three championship teams, but for whatever reason he hasn't been able to gel with Lamar Odom, Luke Walton and the rest of the new-look Lakers. A lot of people say it's Kobe's responsibility to make those around him better. I think the front office has some responsibility to try to get more talent around him. I don't know how to make those deals; I'm not a GM. But something's gotta give in LA.
Right now it seems Kobe vs. the Lakers front office is the most popular match up in the NBA right now - including the conference finals. And why wouldn't everyone else across the county be watching the situation here in LA? Fans are on the edge of their seats wondering how this situation will resolve itself. Which city could be the next Miami, the beneficiary of the last volatile situation in LA?
The Cold War going on within the Lakers must stop or this franchise will go into a tailspin. If Lakers fans think the past few years have been bad, those will seem like championship-years compared to a life without Bryant.
And, as Kobe said two days ago, the Lakers are no where near contending for a title right now.
Trading Kobe only takes them farther from that goal.