Professionally, it is a tall order to log 18 years of experience, and Kobe Bryant has found a way to make it happen. Olympic gold medals, Most Valuable Player, and NBA titles all fill the resume of Bryant.
With two years left on a $48.5 million deal, the Black Mamba is heading towards the latter portion of his career in hopes of chasing a sixth championship. Los Angeles has been unable to maintain its luster and ability to attract elite level players over the last few years, aside from Dwight Howard who left for the Houston Rockets in 2012.Kobe is left to lead a roster with young players with plenty of potential and a few veterans.
The Lakers championship aspirations are looking far off, even a berth in the playoffs. Being the competitor that he is, Bryant will fight with nail and tooth to get Los Angeles to compete for postseason success.
While the Lakers look to shake up the Western Conference, Bryant must not forget the opportunity to set up the franchise that took a chance on him in 1996. Playing alongside Xavier Henry, Nick Young, and Julius Randle offer a collection of players that have grown up watching the best moments of Bryant’s career.
He must push these players to learn the Laker way that brought the franchise 16 championships.
As one of the league’s most versatile players, Bryant gives younger perimeter players the blueprint to becoming an effective offensive threat. Bryant has been able to go from a player who predicated most of his game off of athleticism, to a high IQ facilitator.
Whether it be operating as a point guard, or playing from the interior, Bryant has and will take on each task. He can preach the nuances of playing from both areas to his counterparts and it could help the team as they build their foundation.
Los Angeles have signed many of their players to one-year deals for future flexibility. Bryant must continue to keep the environment welcoming for these players, building cohesion with their current unit.
The Lakers are banking on big name signings in 2015 and 2016 free agency, but they still must have pieces in place beforehand. Bringing back these players and continuing their development could lead to the extension of Bryant’s career.
Byron Scott will be the third Lakers coach over the past three years, and they were able to sign one with a close relationship to Bryant. During his time with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Scott had several issues with a younger roster and limited experience.
Kobe has a chance to serve as the buffer between Scott and a fairly new Lakers roster. Bryant must ask for both patience and sacrifice from both their new head coach and players.
Success can only be obtained if both parts are working in unison. Scott is a strong believer in discipline on both ends of the court, and the idea can translate smoothly with Bryant leading the way as captain.
Development and identity are the two keys for the Lakers going forward. They have not done a good job of these things over the last few years, and they are important to building championship cores.
Teams like the Miami Heat, Boston Celtics, and San Antonio Spurs have all achieved championship success through these objectives. Bryant was only relegated to six games last season, so the players from that roster have returned with a chance to settle into roles alongside Bryant.
If Bryant comes back healthy, then the Lakers can finally find some offensive continuity.
Currently, the Lakers are quite like Bryant entering the NBA out of high school: young with an unsure future. They must take this time to dig deep and stick together, with Bryant leading the charge as usual.
His wisdom, remaining ability, and confidence is needed like never before. Los Angeles is yearning for success at any opportunity, and with a legend leaving in the near future, they need to find a way there quickly.
Bryant must do his due diligence to leave a mark for the new Lakers.