You don’t need a degree in psychology from Stanford to understand that Kobe Bryant is, well, a pretty complicated guy.
Intense, exacting, hyper-competitive, often aloof. The list goes on.
It might be time to add “petty” to the list.
Exhibit A: This tweet from ESPN.com’s Dave McMenamin:
Nick Young on the trash talk he hears from Kobe: "I don't talk to players on teams that are 20 games under .500"— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) March 17, 2014
Those aren’t just shots you heard fired; those are fully-commissioned Tomahawk missiles.
Before we accuse Kobe of completely turning his back on the woeful Los Angeles Lakers, it’s worth noting he did, in fact, speak to Nick Young—unless Young is making this whole thing up.
Actually refusing to speak to his teammates, some of whom he'll presumably be playing with next season, would be a bold move.
Innocent ribbing? Perhaps. But many a truth is spoken in jest, and Kobe—clearly frustrated by his inability to help his struggling team, not to mention management’s inability to lasso Phil Jackson back into the fray—has never been one to mince words.
Bryant is a smart guy. With one of the most loaded draft classes in recent memory mere months away, he knows it’s better to fall flat than to merely flounder.
At this point, Bryant’s last, best hope at a sixth ring with the Lakers lies in L.A.’s ability to both nab a high-ceiling rookie (who will be on a cheap contract for at least the next four years) and reel in a couple of big-name free agents either this summer or next.
According to Bleacher Report’s Tyler Conway, it’ll more likely be the latter. Meaning another year of Bryant biding his twilight time and, we can only hope, more hilarious invectives lobbed the way of his teammates.
A max-level player is still possible with Nash and Bryant on the books, but that would require renouncing the rights to pretty much everyone on the roster. Given the promise shown by some of the lottery busts-turned-contributors on this roster, a Carmelo-level splash is likely out of the question. Instead, the Lakers are planning a slower build, with the summer of 2015 looming as their time for free-agent expenditures.
Whatever the Lakers’ strategy, Kobe—he of the two-year, $48.5 million extension—will certainly want some say in the matter. The question is whether the Lakers, in dishing out that kind of dime, thought they were handing out hush money.
If Kobe’s dig at Young is about to become standard operating procedure in Laker Land, I for one hope he never pipes down.