In a glorious development, the rest of the known universe is coming on board with this view. Chad Ford, "insider" for the Galactic Sports Station ESPN, has authored a column entitled, "Kobe's Act Wearing Thin In L.A.?" in which he writes:
As a player, Kobe Bryant ranks as one of the 10 best players in the NBA.
But given the Los Angeles Lakers' current problems, and the obstacles they face in fixing the team this summer, should owner Jerry Buss entertain a Kobe trade?
This is fun. This is better than the 8-game losing streak that just ended (only the second 8-game slide since the 60s for the Lake Show). The answer is of course, yes.
The debate (if you thought there was one) about which player KBB or the MDE made more of an impact in LA, is over. The bigger impact, the greater team asset is now in South Beach rocking his way to the best record in the East. Shaq's player efficiency rating is 3rd best in the league. KBB's is 4th best. On the Lakers. Unbelievable.
OK. We can at least see Dr. Buss's point of view. He went with the guy with more on paper upside. Shaq was going to ask for enough money to buy Somalia and move it to a new location off the coast of Louisiana. And he was going to want a lot of years, probably more than he has left. We can see that. But what Buss apparently couldn't see is that the box score is not indicative of anything beyond what happened in that particular game. KBB's inability to have interpersonal relationships and his above-and-beyond approach to selfishness are not signs of someone you want to mortgage the most popular brand in sport on.
So now the question is, can Buss trade Bryant? Is it too late? We say do it as soon as possible, before his stock drops. Another two seasons like this and he'll be the new Chris Webber, but with rings that came courtesy of one Big Diesel.
The other problem is that people don't want to play with him. He was tolerated when it was Shaq's team, but now you get open sniping like this:
When asked by reporters what moves he would make in the offseason to improve the Lakers, Chucky Atkins was quick to jump on a recurring theme about Kobe's perceived role on the team.
"I ain't the GM of this team," Atkins told reporters before the Lakers' eighth straight loss on Sunday. "Kobe's the GM of this team. Ask Kobe. You've been watching this [stuff] all year. You've been watching it and I've been playing in it."
Asked if he was surprised with the Lakers' struggles, Allen Iverson said, "There ain't no No. 34 around here no more," he said, referring to O'Neal. "There's no surprise."
He's right. This isn't a surprise. Only those with their heads in the sand (or up KBB's butt) thought that this team had a hope of making the playoffs. But they're in that no-man's land of having an almost respectable record which ensures a lottery pick out of the top 10.
It's a long way from the Finals to the lottery. This year the road takes you to Staples Center.