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I realize this is not a cutting edge observation, it's not like these Lakers haven't sent out telltale signs they won't be winning a lot anymore. Even though Executive VP Jim Buss says, "this team was built to win NOW!"
Like it or not Laker fans we're witnessing the beginning of the end of Kobe's era leading the Lakers to championships. The demise began with the departure of the NBA's most crowned head coach in history, then Father Time put Kobe and Pau on the clock. Matter of fact, unless Bryant works his way onto the James' Gang in Miami, I think Kobe will have to settle for five titles - which is plenty and puts him right in the conversation with MJ and a few others for ‘greatest player of All-Time'.
I've admired Kobe's ridiculous talent, will, work ethic, basketball savvy and killer instinct. I consider myself lucky to have seen him perform in his era of domination but it's hard to watch him fade (and I don't mean those patented, impossible to defend baseline jumpers) into the realm of the normal, great NBA players.
He probably still has the drive to push teammates to high levels and himself to his own lofty levels on most nights but his supporting cast is a cement suit. Losing 4 of their first 5 games has exposed a serious deficiency in overall talent up and down the roster. Mike Brown's a defensive guy but his team is challenged in so many ways on the "stop end". On-ball pressure is non-existent, rotations are lame, late and lackluster (see the utter lack of contest on any of Randy Foye's 4 straight 3's that buried LA early in the 4th). The 2nd unit might be the worst (or most miss-matched) in the entire league.
Pau Gasol: "It's not a good feeling to have a very talented and experienced roster but we can't take advantage of it."
Buss says Mike Brown's not in any trouble but also adds "…either the system's (new offense) is flawed or there's something else going on."
Kobe was asked postgame if the problems are correctable. "Everything's correctable, but you've got to do it out on the court."
Pau Gasol's prime NBA seasons are wasted around a program that doesn't appreciate what he does best (nor insulate the team from what he does least)
Dwight Howard is an enigma wrapped in a riddle. "Super Man" who thinks every NBA season is a sitcom. Nobody's laughing right now although after Wednesday night's loss to the Jazz in Salt Lake City.
Howard was spinning it "We're ok, there's no reason for us to panic" (anybody hear the canned laughter?)
There's a reason he drove a fiery but balanced Stan Van Gundy to Magical lows in Orlando. Howard doesn't seem to embrace the superstar expectation…on the court. I'm not doubting his talent. He's dominant (averaging 20 pts, 8 rbs and 2.4 blocks per game) but since he can't make free throws, missing half of his 64 attempts already this season, he's become a liability late in games.
Oh Laker-Land insists they'll get better when Nash returns. Maybe. If Coach Brown re-designs the offense, again and finally puts the ball in Nash's hands and has him do what he does. That could be an offensive elixir but this team is a defensive disaster. While Nash is still a week or more away from returning from his leg injury, the schedule is smiling on Mike Brown. Here comes a 6 game homestand, against some mediocre competition, but the Lakers are mediocre right now too so watch these next 6.
It's painful for Laker fans everywhere but sheer ecstasy for those who don't like them. Nobody's feelin' it more than his Kobe-ness. Bryant's body language in the Jazz loss was speaking ‘slow-play panic' in several languages. Too bad for the Jazz this Laker collection doesn't return to SLC this season.