Kobe Bryant Is Helpless During Most Frustrating Season of His Legendary Career

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Kobe Bryant Is Helpless During Most Frustrating Season of His Legendary Career
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

The following is an abridged list of words that adequately describe the 2012-13 Los Angeles Lakers: overblown, underwhelming, soft and artificial. The list goes on, but perhaps nothing describes this band of misfits better than an age-old adage known as Murphy's Law:

"Anything that can go wrong will go wrong."

How else can you explain a team that added Dwight Howard and Steve Nash to an already solid core checking in at 24-28? How else can you account for a theoretical starting five with 35 All-Star Games and three MVPs between them sitting 3.5 games out of the playoffs? And most saliently, how else can you justify all of this happening when Kobe Bryant is playing so well?

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The Black Mamba has pulled each and every stop out of his bag of tricks this season. He's scored in bunches when the occasion called for it, but more alarmingly, he's defied his entire career by starting to pass the ball.

The newfound sharer, sardonically deemed "Kobe Johnson" or "Magic Bryant," racked up double-digit assists in three straight January games and nine-plus in two of the next seven. His team's record in those contests: a paltry 3-2.

"Anything that can go wrong will go wrong."

The cast of characters Mitch Kupchak surrounded Bryant with this offseason was supposed to be the strongest of his career. He had always worked well with Pau Gasol, and he played with Dwight Howard during the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Steve Nash was brought in to run the show, which was supposed to be a blessing for both parties.

Fifty-two games in, the results couldn't be much less promising. Kobe's three primary supporting players have all suffered massive PER regressions this season:

Player 2012-13 PER 5-Year PER Average Difference
Dwight Howard 19.19 24.51 -5.32
Steve Nash 16.60 20.67 -4.07
Pau Gasol 15.90 22.11 -6.21

Just to clarify for those who aren't familiar with PER, falling off a production cliff that steep is no small task. Six-and-a-quarter PER points are what separate Carmelo Anthony from Amir Johnson; 5.32 is greater than the difference between Russell Westbrook and Ramon Sessions. These aren't mild drop-offs we're seeing from Kobe Bryant's teammates—they're unprecedented ones.

"Anything that can go wrong will go wrong."

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An optimist—a really extreme optimist—would look at this season and say, "Things could be worse." I mean, if Murphy's Law was truly in effect, wouldn't there be stronger competition for the West's eighth seed? If everything that could possibly go wrong went wrong, wouldn't Houston and Utah be two or three games better?

But a realist knows that argument to be grasping at semantic straws. This Lakers season, by almost every account, eye-witness testimony included, was doomed to fail from the start. There's nothing that you, I or even the great Kobe Bryant can do to stop it.

For fans of the purple and gold, everything that can go wrong has gone wrong, is going wrong, and unless something very unforeseen happens, will continue to go wrong all the way until April.

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