Kobe Bryant Takes Advice from Magic Johnson as LA Lakers Search for Identity
According to Dave McMenamin of ESPNLosAngeles.com, the Black Mamba called Hall of Famer and former Lakers great Earvin "Magic" Johnson to talk about the team and its struggles. Bryant also seemed to be calling for advice.
"We just talked about some of the experiences he went through and some of the systematic changes that he had to go through after Kareem (Abdul-Jabbar) retired and how he kind of managed through that and how he dealt with that," Bryant said after the Lakers shootaround in preparation for their game against the New York Knicks on Thursday. "It was very helpful."
Bryant didn't go into any further detail about the phone call, comparing his conversation with Johnson to "going to the mountain top and talking to Buddha" and saying that it was "privileged information."
As pleasant as Bryant and Johnson's conversation may have been, it's hard to believe that any advice Johnson may have given the five-time champion will matter in the long run.
The Lakers' problems can be blamed on multiple factors, namely point guard Steve Nash's slow return from injury and Pau Gasol's struggles in the new system. Johnson does not have any advice on how to fix either except to adjust Gasol's role in Mike D'Antoni's system, but more on that later.
Also, Johnson's advice is highly unlikely to spark a turnaround. If anything, it could give Bryant the idea to go to team management and make some complaints about D'Antoni.
Johnson was vocal in his disapproval of the Lakers' decision to hire D'Antoni over team legend Phil Jackson following the firing of Mike Brown, and has been critical of D'Antoni's use of the players, particularly Gasol.
Rather than try and give Bryant sage advice on how to get his teammates to adjust to the system, perhaps he gave advice on how to get everyone OUT of it, but that's purely speculative.
Anyway, I'm starting to ramble. The point is that though Johnson may have offered Bryant some helpful advice, it's not going to matter to the Lakers in the long run. The team's problems are such that they cannot be fixed overnight or at the snap of one's fingers, and the only way to fix them is through patience and discipline.
Will Johnson's advice to Bryant matter?
This means that Bryant must be willing to share the ball more often and D'Antoni must be willing to let Pau Gasol play in the low post more often. Most important of all, Nash must get back in the lineup as soon as possible, as he can easily improve this team and make an impact immediately.
Nothing against Johnson, as he is a Lakers legend and former NBA phenom, but his advice can only help so much. After receiving it—whatever it may have been—it is now up to Bryant to implement it.
At that point, perhaps the Lakers can take a small step forward in improving as a whole.
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