The Black Mamba, as he styles himself, is getting some comeuppance in his basketball dotage. ESPN: The Magazine is running a feature with the title “Is Kobe Bryant the reason for the Los Angeles Lakers’ downfall?” The answer is absolutely yes, if writer Henry Abbott is to be believed. Abbott quotes anonymous sources–allegedly agents–who say nobody wants to play with Kobe. That’s why the Lakers couldn’t land big talent in free agency market this summer. They ended up with a roster that boasts malcontent Carlos Boozer, just happy-to-be-here Jeremy Lin and a talented rookie Julius Randle, who Kobe can push around.
Hey, if Kobe can even run Shaq out of town, what hope does anybody else have? That’s the thinking. Bryant will no doubt summon every ounce of his pride and energy this season to respond to the charge that he devastated the Lakers while prolonging his own twilight. But will the damage he did to his own team allow it? There’s not much argument about whether Kobe Bryant is a jerk in general, or a jerk to his teammates in particular. After all, his role model is Michael Jordan. Jordan used to call teammate Will Perdue by the nickname Vanderbilt–because Jordan said Perdue didn’t deserve to have the same name as a Big Ten school. (Jordan didn’t care about spelling.)