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Kobe Bryant Can't Afford to Just Lead Lakers by Example

DALLAS, TX - NOVEMBER 24:  Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers reacts during play against the Dallas Mavericks at American Airlines Center on November 24, 2012 in Dallas, Texas.  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 Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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Jonathan WassermanNBA Lead WriterDecember 1, 2012

Few players have a voice worth being heard.

Kobe Bryant's should be amplified.

The high-profile Lakers have underperformed early in the season, and it's not sitting well with the face of the franchise.

After getting beaten by the second unit in Thursday's practice, Kobe Bryant reportedly went on a short tirade, ripping into the team. It was a message intended to let his teammates know that this level of play was unacceptable.

Not everyone can pull off a tirade, or at least one meant with purpose. If Jordan Hill threw a chair and demanded the team play harder, he'd probably be told to quit farting around and to go get Dwight Howard some water.

But Kobe's different. He's one of those CEO players. When he speaks, you listen. When he's unhappy, you want to be at your best. Darius Morris doesn't want to get beat back door in front of Kobe, just like you don't want to be caught checking your fantasy team when the CEO is lurking around the cubicles.

Maybe the Lakers are better off with Kobe as the team's secondary coach—someone who can light that fire and keep it lit. Mike D'Antoni isn't exactly known for raising the hairs on your neck with a Lombardi-like speech.

By making his teammates fear the Kobe scowl, he could increase performance by providing added motivation.

At this point, scoring 40 points and trying to lead by example just isn't going to translate to better team basketball.

Just a day after Kobe's outburst, the Lakers came out firing against the Denver Nuggets, scoring a season-high 122 points. Bryant scored 14 points in the game, and not once did you get the feeling that he needed to be more aggressive.

The Lakers might need Kobe to abuse his presence as an intimidator. He'll definitely have the ears of Antawn Jamison, Jodie Meeks, Chris Duhon and Jordan Hill, who wouldn't know team success if it smacked them in the face.

He doesn't have to micromanage, rather just remind his teammates when their performance is lacking.

Kobe isn't just an ordinary teammate. He's got one of the most powerful voices in all of sports. If he tells you to part your hair on the other side, you do it. If he says to push the tempo and get down the floor, you run.

It might be time for him take a step back as a scorer and step up as a leader. It's not that he's incapable of putting up points. The team just might need his voice more than his jumper.

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