Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollectionsLakers

T.J. SIMERS

Kobe Bryant's latest rant hurts Lakers, and Pau Gasol

In saying Lakers should either trade Gasol or pledge not to, and suggesting Gasol's play is affected by the uncertainty, Bryant demeans a teammate and advocates a course of action that could hurt team's bargaining power.

February 20, 2012|T.J. Simers
  • Kobe Bryant (24) and Pau Gasol, once a dynamic duo that led the Lakers to three consecutive NBA Finals and won two titles, are struggling this season with consistency, particularly on the road.
Kobe Bryant (24) and Pau Gasol, once a dynamic duo that led the Lakers to three… (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles…)

What an idiotic rant, but not a surprise given Kobe Bryant's track record as a big baby.

With the Clippers getting more attention and the Lakers falling flat, it was only a matter of time before we were going to hear from him.

"I wish management would come out and either trade [Pau Gasol] or not trade him," said Bryant, who threw a tantrum five years ago in demanding to be traded.

Obviously, superstars should be seen and not heard.

The trading deadline is March 15, and so what is Bryant saying here, that he'd like to see the Lakers at a competitive disadvantage?

In every sport, teams work their way toward the trading deadline, and it's not uncommon to hear talk about trades, though many are never made.

It's just part of the business, one of the downsides that come with Gasol's being paid a guaranteed $18.7 million while left to wonder whether he'll have to find a new Mercedes dealership elsewhere.

And if that doesn't bring him some peace of mind, there is the $19 million Gasol is guaranteed next season and the $19.28 million the one after that.

At least he'll never run out of crying towels.

Why would the Lakers, who will have serious salary-cap concerns down the road because of a new NBA agreement, tell Gasol they are not going to trade him now? And then two days from now Deron Williams suddenly becomes available.

Gasol's problem, of course, is he's a very good player. If he were Ron Artest, Luke Walton, Troy Murphy or Jason Kapono, he wouldn't have to worry about being traded since no one would want him.

The Lakers probably don't know at this time if they are going to trade Gasol. It's a good bet they won't, but why disarm themselves given the deadline, especially the way this team has been playing?

Here's something to ponder: Do you really think Bryant cares this much about Gasol? He knows something about pouting, and so maybe Bryant thinks this is the only way to break Gasol out of his funk.

Or, was this the opening Bryant needed to pressure management into upgrading his supporting cast?

It wouldn't be the first time.

If Bryant really respected Gasol as a competitor, he would never have said this: "It's just tough for a player to give his all when you don't know if you're going to be here tomorrow."

He would say such a thing only after watching a player not giving his all. And what does that say about Gasol?

"He's been the consummate professional," Bryant said of Gasol, but if so, what's the problem?

Why shouldn't Gasol be the consummate professional like every other player mentioned in a trade rumor, like every other worker knowing a layoff is looming?

"He's going out and he's trying to do what he can," Bryant continued. "But let's be real. If you didn't know you were going to be here tomorrow, if your head's on the chopping block . . . it's tough to put all of yourself into the game."

If that's true, Gasol should be fired before tomorrow.

Gasol will get a paycheck tomorrow and enough money to take care of a lifetime of tomorrows. Right now all that's being asked of him is to buck up and show some mental toughness the next 23 days.

When folks criticized Gasol for being soft in the past, he took offense. But now it appears he can't go to bed without the Lakers' brass reading him a reassuring story and tucking him in.

As much as he meant to the Lakers when he arrived, Gasol is now proving to be a disappointment. He's such a nice person, but there is absolutely no defense — beyond injury — for an athlete not giving everything he has in competition.

There will be strong support among Lakers fans for Bryant and Gasol because right now there is no faith in the faceless front office and someone must be blamed for the team's lackluster showing.

And some fans want a trade, any trade, because it's got to be better than this group the Lakers have assembled. So they will applaud Bryant if they think he can make something happen; they forget that leverage is everything in deals, and Bryant wants the Lakers to give it up and announce now what they are going to do.

By now everyone understands how emotional Bryant can be. It's sometimes a great strength and sometimes misguided.

There will be some who even consider this a show of leadership, although I'm not sure a case can be made if he's suggesting Gasol is weak-minded and management is inept.

More than any of that, it's still shocking how out of touch athletes can be.

The last few years have been filled with layoffs across the country, in many cases solid and talented workers just being let go.

No warning. Thanks for the 20, 30 or more years on the job, and a security guard will escort you to the door.

Good luck finding another job while drawing the same salary.

But here's Gasol, a wreck while waiting for March 15, with so many other people needing to work until they retire while worrying every day if they will get that chance.

And they give it their all every day with no guarantees.

t.j.simers@latimes.com

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|