Kobe Bryant needs 38 points against the Sacramento Kings tonight to win his third NBA scoring title. There is a very good chance he can get those points but should he even be playing?
The Lakers have locked up the third seed in the Western Conference and conventional wisdom says that Kobe should be rested for the playoffs. But I get the feeling that Kobe wants this scoring title. And whatever Kobe wants, Kobe usually gets.
And that leaves Coach Mike Brown in a difficult situation. If he keeps Kobe on the bench he runs the risk of upsetting Kobe and if he plays him and Kobe gets hurt he’s going to be vilified by the fans and talking heads alike.
I think this scoring title does mean a lot to Kobe. He’s 33, been in the league for 16 years and it seems like he has a bit of a chip on his shoulder this season. He wants to prove to all the critics and haters out there that he is still The Man. He wants to show that he is just as good, if not better, than the new crop of NBA superstars.
Winning championships is still the most important thing but getting another scoring title at this point in his career would be a nice little extra. Kobe will only play for a few more years (maybe two or three) and there has to be a sense of urgency in Kobe’s mind. He may only have one or two more legitimate shots at winning another championship.
For a game that should mean nothing there is a lot of drama surrounding it. For one more night all eyes are going to be on Kobe Bryant. And I’m sure he wouldn’t want it any other way.
I know it’s only been two games but the Lakers are 0-2 and I say it’s time to push the Panic Button. Call it over reaction. Call it pessimism. Call it whatever you want. Just push that sucker.
After another last minutes collapse against the Sacramento Kings last night I tweeted that it is time to push the panic button and was immediately inundated with responses that I was crazy to even suggest such a thing. All I can say is something has to be done and pushing the Panic Button is as good a solution as any other I have heard.
I understand that Andrew Bynum is out but after watching the uninspired play of the Lakers and Kobe’s frustration level go off the charts, I’m not sure Bynum would have made a difference.
Think about this for a second, the Lakers had the game won against the Chicago Bulls on Christmas Day and fell apart in the last minute and gave the game away. The game against the Kings was one they should have won and were coming back only to fall apart in the last two minutes of the game. Two last minute collapses in two games is not confidence inspiring.
And watching Kobe get more and more frustrated isn’t helping, either. We all know that when he gets to the point where he doesn’t trust his teammates he gets into that mode where he tries to do it all by himself. And that is not good for the Lakers.
I understand Kobe’s frustration because I am frustrated, too. The Lakers did not get better in the offseason. They did not get Chris Paul or Dwight Howard like everyone thought they would. In fact, they may have gotten worse purely based on the fact that they traded away Lamar Odom for essentially nothing.
So I say let’s push the Panic Button and make some major changes.