3:58 AM EST, December 22, 2012
I have the day off, recovering from a trip back East with the Lakers and old age.
But I find myself writing because I cannot believe the idiotic things being written about Kobe Bryant.
Now, I know what you are thinking: The guy really does need a rest if he's defending Kobe Bryant.
But ESPN's Chris Broussard and Fox's Jason Whitlock have done Kobe a disservice, both coming to the conclusion that he is the reason for the Lakers' disappointing everyone this season.
Without Kobe being Kobe this season, the Lakers might as well make like the NHL and disappear.
Kobe is the only one who has kept the Lakers afloat this season, with consistent and sensational play for a guy who should be slowing down.
One thing became very clear while traveling with the Lakers: If Kobe doesn't score, the Lakers don't score.
Dwight Howard is improving, and he's more aggressive on offense, but he hasn't shown the total game yet to carry the team through difficult times.
Whitlock makes an argument that suggests he has not watched the Lakers play this season but is writing off history and preconceived notions.
Whitlock writes: "The wrong player is driving the Lakers," while suggesting it should be Howard.
Whitlock writes a lot of compelling and interesting columns. Apparently an occasional stinker as well.
Howard is the wrong player to drive the Lakers at this time, and although a coach would like to see the ball go through the big guy, who is still best at putting it in the basket?
Broussard says Kobe is shooting too much and cites an unnamed general manager, scout and assistant coach who agree with him. How convenient.
Why does a writer need unnamed basketball experts to agree with him? Did anyone disagree with him? Isn't his own misguided opinion enough to stand on its own?
Kobe is the Ball Hog. Always has been. But who else do you want holding the ball with this wretched group? Howard? Does he make the free throws?
Pau Gasol and Steve Nash haven't been around much, Howard is on the mend, and so who carries the day?
Would you rather have Kobe play the role of facilitator?
Broussard cites statistics to back up what he thinks and what his anonymous sources told him; the great thing about stats is they can tell whatever story you like.
I prefer the eye test. I watched Kobe closely back East and usually have no problem finding fault with him. And no problem writing about all he's done wrong.
But if Kobe's ego was the big problem, as Whitlock wrote, the Lakers' situation would be even more chaotic. Instead of ranting and raving about everything that has gone wrong because it hurts his chances of winning again, he's tried to remain solid as a believer in the team.
Whitlock makes the point that Kobe "emasculates his big men. Andrew Bynum politely admitted this week that Kobe stunted his growth."
Any columnist who relies on the insights of Andrew Bynum needs a rest more than I do. Andrew Bynum stunted his own growth more than anyone else.
Whitlock writes, "I blame Kobe. He's the guy stopping Howard from eating."
I haven't seen Whitlock at a Lakers game this season. I haven't been to all of them, so maybe we just keep missing each other. That's too bad, I like arguing with him.
But I wonder if he's talked to Howard. I had lunch with Howard last week and he said Kobe is the one who has been yelling at him to shoot more jump shots. That's jump shots.
He said Kobe has been working with him on being more aggressive and less sensitive to criticism.
Maybe they won't coexist in the long run, but to make the assertion now that Kobe is holding Howard back is just inaccurate.
And to suggest the "Lakers' problems stem from Kobe," as the ESPN headline with Broussard's story suggested, is a misplaced cheap shot.
I'm all for pounding Kobe when he gives good reason to do so.
But darn if I can find a reason this season.
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