Usually when you’re having a long day at work, or doing errands, you have something to look forward to. A paycheck, a relaxing night, or something. The Los Angeles Lakers after losing a team-record 65 games, should have something to look forward to with D’Angelo Russell, Jordan Clarkson and Julius Randle, but they don’t. That is because of one man, Kobe Bean Bryant.
This is in no way trying to denigrate the career or the greatness of Kobe Bryant, but rather some perspective on how poorly the Lakers organization is run.
The Los Angeles Lakers used the 2nd overall pick on who many believed was the best point guard in the draft in D’Angelo Russell. Julius Randle, the 7th overall pick the season prior, was returning from a torn ACL injury that took him out last year, and Jordan Clarkson was meant to improve on a very solid rookie season. With a group of young and very talented players, one would think the focus would be put into developing on these young players as Kobe Bryant was on his way out. Unfortunately, the Buss family who owns the Lakers, was not interested in developing, but rather profiting.
Once Kobe Bryant declared that this season would be his last, the Lakers took the focus away from where it should be on the team, and put the spotlight on Kobe Bryant. Whether he was shooting 25 times and making less than 10, taking plays off, or not playing at all, Kobe Bryant was able to get away with just about anything. Kobe Bryant was forced to be a side show act; you watched the Lakers because Kobe was leaving, not because the Lakers would be any good. And who can blame Kobe? Jim and Jeanie Buss have both shown no interest in working together in rebuilding the organization, Mitch Kupchak has been stuck in the middle of a power struggle between the Buss family and Byron Scott, who is known for coaching veterans, was forced to coach a team with no veteran players to rely on.
The Buss family thought Kobe was able to carry a team, as he did in 2006. They learned the hard way that father time is undefeated and they should’ve focused on improving the team rather than Kobe’s retirement tour. Benching Russell and Randle for the sake of “punishing them” and not allowing them to develop properly under an ideal coach is one of the many things the Lakers are guilty of. But the biggest thing the Lakers are guilty of is putting one player’s retirement ahead of the chemistry of the team. And that's because Kobe Bryant's name value and dollars meant more than winning.