Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Spor
Prior to the Los Angeles Lakers' loss to the Washington Wizards, there was a sense of optimism surrounding the preseason favorites out West. Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol were both returning from injuries, and the team appeared primed to thrive with all five starters healthy.
The Lakers' most recent defeat exposed why the team will not be making a championship run in 2013, and head coach Mike D'Antoni let loose with some harsh words that put a damper on those hopes (via ESPN):
I told them today, we put our hands in [the huddle], and you guys have probably seen it, we say, "Championship," and go out [on the floor]. That's laughable. Championship? You got to be kidding me. Nobody understands the importance of every possession offensively and defensively. Every time they got to come out with some kind of determination to be a good basketball team, and [until] then, we're just, we're fooling ourselves. Right now, that's what we're doing. We're just making a "sham-mockery" out of it.
The one player who's thrived throughout the Lakers' destructive season has been Kobe Bryant, who's averaging historically significant numbers for a guy who's 34 years old.
Posting 27 points, 5.8 assists and 5.4 rebounds per game, it's a shame that Kobe's individual accomplishments have been overshadowed by the Lakers' collective failures.
Unfortunately, that's the nature of the beast. The Lakers enter every season with high expectations, and team failures will always overshadow personal achievement.
For now, Kobe will have to look forward to 2013-14 in hopes of capturing his sixth ring.