Lakers Trade Deadline: Did Kobe Bryant Wear a Mask for This?

Shane CombsCorrespondent IIMarch 14, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 07:  Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers looks on during warms up prior to the start of the Lakers game against the Washington Wizards at the Verizon Center on March 7, 2012 in Washington, DC. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images

My southern roots reminded me today of a 90's country song titled Did I Shave My Legs for This? where country singer Deana Carter looks at her lackluster partner and wonders if it is truly worth the effort.

With the NBA trade deadline hours away, Kobe Bryant should now be looking at Laker management and asking, "Did I wear a mask for this?"

A few weeks back, ESPN's the Sports Reporters were making mention of Kobe Bryant as a Superstar who wanted to play as General Manager.

It is the knee-jerk reaction, I suppose, to deride players for overstepping their bounds. It is clear that giving in to every whim a superstar has could quickly get out of control. Yet, it is my opinion that Laker management could learn a thing or two from the Masked Mamba.

For one, Kobe Bryant was opposed to trading Trevor Ariza.

Perhaps you had to be a Lakers fan to understand what this kid brought to the team. He would make the right steal at the right time to put the ball in the right hands for the right shot. With the Lakers bench what it is now, how many fans in L.A. wish they still had Trevor Ariza?

And what about Lamar Odom?

I understand there were circumstances around his situation, but if management is unable to make any trades this year, the headline should read: In a year where Lakers needed to add talent, management gives away the Sixth Man of the Year.

I would like to alert the media and Laker management that fans of L.A. still want to win. Kobe Bryant still wants to win.

And there is nothing wrong with that.

It's not obnoxious for a man with five rings to want six or for a team with 16 championships to want 17.

I get that fans of other teams would be happy for a decline in both L.A. and Boston. What I don't get is a media that seems to turn the page too quickly. Or a Laker management that would do nothing for an aging Laker team other than give away Lamar Odom.

I'm willing to give management the benefit—down to the very last hour.

But if the time elapses and nothing is done, questions need to be asked.

For one, why should we scold Kobe Bryant for making statements about trades if the ones who are hired to make moves are inactive?

If management can't listen to Kobe, could they at least emulate him?

Here is a man, at 33, who plays with more will and passion than many who are much younger. He plays through injury and even with a mask (the sweat from which seemed to bother him more than injuries).

The bottom line: Kobe is still playing to win.

How long would Kobe last if he could no longer make a shot under pressure? What if he didn't even shoot? What if he stood there, as the final seconds on the clock seeped away, frozen and incapable?


If management lets the deadline pass, that would be exactly what they have done.

Management has enough time to take a final shot. There may be a hand in their face and the time is indeed ticking away.

Is that too much pressure? Kobe relishes such moments.

The opportunities for L.A. could be better or worse in one day’s time.

What it can’t be is exactly the same.

The Lakers didn’t come this far on the court for inaction in the office.

Kobe Bryant and the Big Men haven't played this hard for nothing.

Kobe didn't wear a mask for this.