Before anyone reacts, let me be clear. This is no call for the Lakers to trade or get rid of Kobe. Kobe needs the Lakers, and the Lakers need him.
This is a call, however, for Kobe to come to terms with his increasing mortality. Five games are not a reason to throw the season away, but it is enough time to realize that something is wrong.
That something may be Bryant. A once immortal figure in LA, the last few seasons have had some Lakers fans questioning their feelings towards their superstar.
Much like any superstar, Kobe has built-up a near infallible legacy that, for the most part, has kept him out of trouble with the fans. Sure, some people still hate, but he has won five rings, two finals MVPs and one league MVP with the Lakers.
Kobe knows he has an attitude to his game, and he's never shied away from it. In fact, it is why he gave himself the "Black Mamba" nickname. Like the cobra, he attacks strong, and his venom is deadly.
He has always been a player who takes many shots and also commits many turnovers. It's the nature of his game, really. He's the main guy out there, and the more you see of the ball the more chances you have to do something wrong with it.
Lately, though, it has become a problem. Bryant is not the player he once was. Decline is something that comes with being a 34-year-old, but, as expected from somebody of Kobe's stubborn attitude, he hasn't changed his game because of it.
At his core, Kobe just wants to win. And he wants everybody around him to have that same attitude. If they don't, he has no problem with taking the team over and trying to do it all himself.
It's hard to fault him for that. As a Celtics fan, I know it's exactly the same thing Larry Bird did.
Once those skills start to decline, though, the "Black Mamba" attitude becomes more of a hindrance than a positive. Unfortunately for Kobe, it seems like the venom is no longer as poisonous as it used to be.
As Kobe ages, he can no longer be that guy who takes every shot, or has the ball at every key moment—especially not if his turnover ratios and declining shooting percentages from past seasons are any indication of his efficiency.
Stats aren't why Kobe is harming the Lakers—in fact, he's shooting a terrific 56 percent through five games. The decline in Kobe's game, and his refusal to pass up scoring options, are just a cause of the real problem—Kobe's attitude.
Kobe's attitude needs to chill out.
In Kobe's mind, though, he's not the problem. Nobody else wants to get on his level. Nobody wants to win as much as he does. That's the problem.
Well, that's all well and good when your response to that is to take over and do it yourself. That worked for the Black Mamba. At 34, he's just Kobe Bryant now. The "do it myself" attitude does more harm than good.
This team has Dwight Howard, Steve Nash and Pau Gasol. Nash is hurt right now, but, even before he was, we haven't seen nearly as much from them as we should be. Some of that has been a lack of chemistry and quality play, but, let's be honest, Kobe is still running this team.
Whether anyone wants to admit it or not, his refusal to realize that his days as the Black Mamba are gone are a big problem. And it will continue to be one until somebody convinces Kobe otherwise.
It's time to transition the team from "Kobe's team" into the "Los Angeles Lakers."