LA Lakers: 5 Reasons Why Kobe Bryant Must Force Trade to New York Knicks

Bryant T. JordanAnalyst IMay 25, 2012

LA Lakers: 5 Reasons Why Kobe Bryant Must Force Trade to New York Knicks

0 of 5

    Kobe Bryant is on a maniacal, no-holds-barred quest to win seven championships, best the current "greatest player ever" Michael Jordan and ascend the list of basketball immortals, and no one and nothing will stand in his way. Nothing that is, except perhaps Jim Buss and the Los Angeles Lakers franchise.

    The Lakers have been eliminated in the second round of the playoffs in each of the past two seasons, and Kobe Bryant knows his team as currently constructed, and it's aging roster's championship window may have closed. If this is the case, both Kobe Bryant and the Lakers would be wise to part ways before things get ugly.

    Make no mistake about it, Bryant would love to retire as a Laker, to continue to increase his franchise records to the point where no future Laker would even dream of breaking them. Bryant would love to win his sixth, and hopefully, seventh titles as a Laker. However if the only choice is increasing his Lakers records while watching the finals each season from home or winning titles in another NBA city, the choice is an easy one for the man known as the Black Mamba.

    The problem is the Lakers' front office knows they are in dire need of an influx of youth, and owner and head man in charge Jim Buss would like to build around the man-child he ordered drafted in the 2005 NBA draft—24-year-old star center Andrew Bynum.

    The Lakers also seem to have been ordered by ownership to cut costs as nothing else would explain trading the at-that-time reigning Sixth Man of the Year Lamar Odom, to the conference rival, defending champion and team that just swept the Lakers out of the playoffs the year before—Dallas Mavericks.

    Bryant, for all his past greatness and continued excellence is neither young nor inexpensive. Bryant will be 34 years old by the time the 2012-13 NBA season starts and is due to earn over $58 million over the next two seasons.

    If the Lakers want to build around Bynum or even retool their roster to add much-needed youth and depth, the quickest, and perhaps, best way to do that would be to trade the greatest player in franchise history. And while the front office may not publicly admit they have considered doing so already, I believe they have and that their is at least one team official pushing for such a trade to happen.

    Much has been made of Bryant's infamous "no trade clause," however, while Kobe may indeed be able to nix any, and therefore, every trade the Lakers may include him in, he is also a fiercely proud individual who I believe would take any news of the Lakers shopping him to other teams as a challenge and reason to simply say, "You want to trade me? Trade me! I'll win a title anywhere before this team even contends for one again!"

    While I do believe Bryant would indeed agree to be traded by the Lakers, I also have no doubt that any such trade would occur on his terms and on his terms only. Seeing Kobe Bryant accept a trade to the Bobcats, Wizards, Raptors or Pistons is just about unthinkable. Likewise, believing the Lakers would trade Bryant to a division rival is ludicrous.

    Any trade for Bryant would need to be to both a team of his choosing and one which plays in the Eastern Conference. That said, the Knicks, Bulls and Heat are the only realistic possibilities, and since Derrick Rose may never be the same Derrick Rose that won the MVP award in 2011 and the Heat may balk at offering the much younger and less expensive Dwyane Wade, New York is obviously the most realistic destination for the Kobester.

    A simple trade of Kobe Bryant for Carmelo Anthony, Toney Douglas and Jerome Jordan would be the most plausible deal and the one I feel would happen when push came to shove.

    New York and Kobe Bryant—a match made in heaven.

    I believe that Kobe Bryant would love playing for the Knicks, deep-pocketed owner James Dolan, the intelligent-yet-rabid New York fans and in the most famous arena in the world in Madison Square Garden. In fact, I believe Bryant has pondered this exact scenario many times already and relished the thought of dominating on the world's grandest stage.

    Truth be told, I believe Kobe Bryant may be wise to force his hand a bit and demand the Lakers trade him to the New York Knicks, especially if they happen to be entertaining the thought of either trading him anyways or building for the future with Andrew Bynum as the centerpiece. Kobe Bryant to the Knicks needs to happen...now!

     

    Here are the top reasons Kobe Bryant should force a trade to the New York Knicks:

     



Reason 1: To Build His Brand, Increase His Fame and Grow the Legend of Black Mamba

1 of 5

    It's been said that LeBron James is all about his "brand" while Kobe Bryant is all about NBA titles, however, to think that Kobe Bryant isn't also a very self-aware and astute businessman who desires to maximize his earning potential world-wide would be to sell him short.

    Kobe Bryant may be the "greatest" player in the game of basketball today, but he is also a marketing phenomenon who's fame and influence continue to grow around the world.

    There's no better place to grow one's brand than the Mecca, New York City, and while LeBron James may have shied from the spotlight of the Big Apple, you better believe that Kobe Bryant would embrace it.

    Bryant would instantly become the King of New York, while at the same time, retaining his status as the King of Los Angeles, and for the first time in NBA history, the two most popular basketball team's fan's favorite player would be one and the same!

    Kobe Bryant loves being the King of Cali, but to be both the King of Cali and King of New York or in other words the "Coast to Coast King" is something that even someone with such a singular focus on rings as Kobe Bryant has, cannot ignore or underestimate.

    Everything I mentioned above would be instantaneous the moment Bryant became a Knick. However, the moment he leads them to their first NBA championship since 1973, his name, fame and legend will blow up to never before dreamed of heights. This fact alone is enough to entice the Black Mamba to want to unleash his venom on his opponents while wearing a Knicks jersey! 

Reason 2: To Reunite with Phil Jackson, the Greatest Coach in NBA History

2 of 5

    Madison Square Garden was built for a player like Kobe Bryant...and a coach like Phil Jackson.

    Phil Jackson is not only the greatest coach in the history of professional sports, not merely basketball or the NBA, he is like a father figure to Kobe Bryant as well. To think Kobe Bryant would not want to play Phil Jackson again or to even think there is another coach on the planet that Bryant would rather play for than Jackson is ridiculous. Kobe adores, Jackson and the feeling is mutual from the old Zen Master as well.

    I have no real doubt whatsoever that the minute Kobe Jackson became a Knick, Phil Jackson would be ready to sign the richest coaching contract in NBA history and that Knicks owner James Dolan would be happy to hand him the pen; removing the interim coach from Mike Woodson's contract be damned.

    Jackson brings not only a great basketball mind and unmatchable resume to the table, he brings true star power to the Mecca of basketball and will give the Knicks' tortured fans true hope of a championship future and hope can be a very powerful thing.

    Another thing that Phil Jackson brings is instant credibility, and perhaps, more importantly, he brings the ability to attract free agents and particularly former players to want to play for him again.

    This said, it would not surprise me in the least to see the Lakers amnesty Metta World Peace after trading Kobe Bryant, and in fact, Bryant may demand this be done before he agrees to any trade. I believe that Metta World Peace would then follow Kobe Bryant to his hometown New York Knicks next season, signing a veteran minimum contract as a free agent.

    I also believe that former players Lamar Odom and Derek Fisher would also happily sign with Phil Jackson and the Knicks as free agents on veteran minimum contracts and that a quality center such as former Knick Marcus Camby would sign such a free agent contract as well.

    Couple the above signings with the imminent re-signing of the sensational Jeremy Lin and probably re-signing of the enigmatic yet ultra-talented J.R. Smith and the 2012-13 New York Knicks roster could look as follows:

     

    New York Knicks 2012-13 Roster

    Point Guard:       Jeremy Lin /Iman Shumpert / Derek Fisher

    Shooting Guard: Kobe Bryant / J.R. Smith

    Small Forward:   Metta World Peace / Landry Fields / Steve Novak

    Power Forward:  Amare Stoudemire / Lamar Odom

    Center:                Tyson Chandler / Marcus Camby / Josh Harrelson 

     

    If fans in the Garden thought things were crazy when Linsanity hit New York, just wait until they have a Knicks' roster similar to the above!

Reason 3: To Become the Greatest Player in the History of Two NBA Franchises

3 of 5

    Kobe Bryant is a student of the game—a student of history. He knows the accomplishments of many of his predecessors like he knows where his sweet spots are on the court. He realizes where his place in history is on many scales and what it will take to climb those lists. Kobe Bryant knows basketball history.

    While Kobe may desire to retire a Laker and to join the small group of NBA greats who played their entire careers with just one team, he also knows that absolute legends such as Michael Jordan, Wilt Chamberlain and Kareem Abdul-Jabaar are not on that list and such a fact certainly never diminished their accomplishments and greatness.

    In fact, a much more rare group of legends is the group that includes players who have had their jersey's retired by more than one team. There are just two players in the history of the NBA who are widely considered to be on the same level or a higher level of greatness than Kobe Bryant is at this point in his career who have had their jersey number retired by two or more NBA franchises. Those two players are Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (Lakers and Bucks) and Wilt Chamberlain (Lakers, Warriors and 76ers) who is the only player to ever have his jersey number retired by three teams.

    For Kobe to be one of just three of the greatest legends in NBA history to have his jersey retired by more than one team would be an even more impressive feat than simply playing his entire career with one team, a feat that many NBA greats and even more non-greats have accomplished before him.

    However, Kobe could not just become the third legend of his caliber to have his jersey retired by more than one team if he is traded to the Knicks, he could become the only, I repeat the only legend of his caliber to be considered the undisputed greatest player in team history for two separate teams!

    Kareem Abdul-Jabaar was undoubtedly the greatest Milwaukee Buck in history, but he is not generally considered to be anything but the third- or fourth-greatest Los Angeles Laker in team history, well behind both Kobe Bryant himself and Magic Johnson and either slightly ahead or behind of Shaquille O'Neal as well.

    Likewise Wilt Chamberlain may have been the most dominant player in the history of basketball, but he is not considered the undisputed greatest player for two separate franchises. Chamberlain would not rank among the top five greatest Lakers, would generally be considered below Rick Barry who lead the Warriors to two conference championships and one NBA title on the list of all-time greatest Warriors, and there would even be considerable debate whether he or Julius Erving was truly the "greatest" 76er as well.

    If Kobe Bryant is traded to the New York Knicks and leads them to their first championship since 1973, he could very well become the only NBA legend of his caliber to ever become the greatest player in the history of two separate franchises!

    This is just one more reason why Kobe Bryant should more than welcome a trade to the New York Knicks.

Reason 4: To Give Himself the Best Chance to Win at Least Seven NBA Titles

4 of 5

    While Kobe Bryant certainly wants to win a sixth NBA title while wearing the purple and gold of Laker land, which would give him one more ring than the previous greatest Laker of all-time, Erving Magic Johnson, he also knows that his ultimate goal is not six titles but seven.

    Kobe Bryant will most likely need to win seven NBA titles as at least a top two option on his team if the majority of basketball fans worldwide will ever consider him superior to, or at least on equal footing with, Micheal Jordan, who led the Chicago Bulls to six NBA titles during his storied career.

    Make no mistake about it, Kobe Bryant already knows he's the greatest Laker in history and that he does not need to score one more point or win one more title to ascend to that title. Bryant also knows, however, that he is not merely one, but two NBA titles away, from being considered the greatest basketball player in the history of the game. A sixth title will thrill Bryant, but it will also instill him with more hunger for a seventh title, than it will a sense of joy or contentment with earning his sixth.

    The above said, if Kobe Bryant believes that he has a better chance of winning two more titles with the New York Knicks than he does of winning only one with the Los Angeles Lakers, I believe he will indeed desire a to be traded to the Knicks, period.

    In the "Reason Two" slide I explained how there is a great chance the 2012-13 Knicks roster could look as follows:

     

    New York Knicks 2012-13 Roster

     

    Point Guard: Jeremy Lin /Iman Shumpert / Derek Fisher

    Shooting Guard: Kobe Bryant / J.R. Smith

    Small Forward: Metta World Peace / Landry Fields / Steve Novak

    Power Forward: Amare Stoudemire / Lamar Odom

    Center: Tyson Chandler / Marcus Camby / Josh Harrelson

     

    The above lineup, simply put, is deeper, younger and flat-out better than the current Lakers lineup and certainly far better than a Lakers lineup would be if the team decides to build around Andrew Bynum and proceed with a youth movement.

    The above starting five is arguably slightly better than what the Lakers currently possess, while the above bench is light years better than the current Lakers' bench mob. In fact, the above Knicks second unit would make for a better starting five than many NBA teams currently have and could make a playoff run themselves. And as the Spurs and Pacers proved in this year's playoffs, a dynamic bench can make the difference between a deep playoff run and missing the playoffs entirely.

    With the Lakers having just been eliminated from the playoffs in the second round for the second straight year and with the Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire tandem proving to be anything but an offensive or defensive juggernaut for the Knicks, now may be the perfect time for the Knicks to trade Carmelo Anthony (along with Toney Douglas and Jerome Jordan) to the Lakers and bring the Black Mamba to New York.

    Kobe Bryant, King of New York has a nice "ring" to it, don't you think?

Reason 5: To Eclipse Michael Jordan as the NBA G.O.A.T. (Greatest of All Time)

5 of 5

    For most NBA fans, let alone Chicago Bulls fans, who were able to watch Michael Jeffrey Jordan's career play out, it may be unthinkable to even imagine that Kobe Bean Bryant will ever supersede Jordan as the greatest of all time or G.O.A.T.

    However, to many fans who were able to watch Wilt Chamberlain's, Bill Russell's or Kareem Abdul-Jabaar's careers play out, they may in fact consider it ridiculous to consider Jordan as "greater" than any of those three players.

    Compiling a list of the greatest players in NBA history is similar to compiling a list of the greatest Hollywood actors. Everyone seems to have a different favorite, a different criteria for judging greatness and a different bias by which they interpret the data relating to the discussion.

    Kobe Bryant realizes this and has often said it is enough for him to simply be mentioned in the discussion of all-time greats with players such as Jordan, Chamberlain, Russell and Abdul-Jabaar. However, Bryant still desires to be regarded as the G.O.A.T. and knows that for him to be considered such more often than not, he will have to outperform and accomplish more than Jordan, more so than any other player.

    Michael Jordan is the measuring stick for Kobe Bryant's pursuit of greatness. Jordan is the mythical man sitting on top of the mountain that Kobe Bryant needs to knock off in his dogged pursuit to scale that mountain and indomitable desire to become king of that mountain.

    No matter what Kobe Bryant does or accomplishes there may always still be fans that regard him as inferior to Jordan. However, Bryant also understands that if he wins a seventh NBA title and retires with better career stats than Jordan, there will still be a large portion, and perhaps, even a majority that will consider him the true G.O.A.T.

    The fact of the matter is that by the time Kobe Bryant retires from the game of basketball, he will almost assuredly have more career regular season, All-Star and playoff points, rebounds, assists and wins than Michael Jordan.

    Read that last sentence again, and when you finish pondering the massive importance of such an awesome feat being accomplished by the Kobester, fix your eyes upon the career regular-season, All-Star and playoff: point, rebound and assist totals as well as conference and NBA titles of both Jordan and Bryant at 33 years of age—the age Kobe was when his 2011-12 season ended.

    Career Stats at the age of 33 (Kobe's current age):

     

    Regular-Season Points:          Kobe: 29,484 * Jordan: 24,489 

    Playoff Points:                        Kobe: 5,560 * Jordan: 4,717

    Regular-Season Assists:         Kobe: 5,418 * Jordan: 4,377 

    Playoff Assists:                        Kobe: 1,035 * Jordan: 857

    Regular-Season Rebounds:    Kobe: 6,142 * Jordan: 4,879 

    Playoff Rebounds:                   Kobe: 1,106 * Jordan: 895 

    Conference Championships:   Kobe: seven * Jordan: four 

    NBA Titles:                              Kobe: five * Jordan: four 

     

    The simple truth is that Kobe Bryant is on pace to not just best, but obliterate Michael Jordan's career numbers and that as long as he can win a sixth or especially a seventh NBA championship, he should take his rightful place atop the list of NBA legends as the true G.O.A.T.