The state of the Lakers

Adrian Wojnarowski writes that Kobe Bryant was rightfully furious after the Lakers Game 5 loss Sunday evening.

On his way into the losing locker room, the most angry man in the Garden was heard to bellow a spontaneous stream of curses into the ears of his Los Angeles Lakers. As the door slammed behind them, a witness heard Kobe Bryant(notes) screaming that he needed some-bleeping-one to make a stand with him.

“We’ve regressed since Game 1,” Bryant confessed to Yahoo! Sports. “Our defense belongs on milk cartons in the last two games.”

Everyone wonders how Bryant goes about these next hours until Game 6 at the Staples Center. On the eve of Game 1, Bryant told me how the development of these Lakers, their growth, allowed him to channel his aggression, his time, into his own game. Two years ago, Bryant said, the Lakers weren’t good enough to beat the Celtics. He hated losing to them, but he could live with it. This one, he’ll take to his grave. This one, he’ll never get over.

All that screaming in the locker room, all that angst over a Game 5 that felt like ’08 again, and Bryant stopped walking and stood for a moment. He had to start building back these Lakers, building back the fragility of a defending champion on the brink of elimination.

His eyes narrowed now, his lips stiffened, and Kobe Bryant would say late in this chase for a back-to-back championship, “Listen, if you told me at the beginning of the year that we’ve got two games at home to win a championship, yeah, I’ll take that [bleep].”

There has always been an interesting dynamic between Kobe and his teammates. As long as they keep winning, he’s generally happy, but when the chips are down he lashes out like a black mamba. Certain people, like Derek Fisher, can take it as motivation and play a great Game 6, but I wonder how someone like Ron Artest, who hasn’t been in the foxhole with Kobe before, is going to react to the mounting pressure. It’s not just that the Lakers might lose, it’s that Kobe might lose, and that might be worse.

What is going through his teammates’ heads when the game is on the line? Are they wondering if Kobe approves of this shot or doesn’t approve of that shot? Are they afraid to make mistakes for fear of the tongue-lashing that they’ll no doubt get on the way to the bench? Or do they somehow transform his criticism into toughness and good play?

I guess we’ll find out tonight.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

Related Posts