First of all, I want to preface this article by saying I am not a Los Angeles Laker fan. My basketball allegiance is to the boys in green, the Boston Celtics. Therefore this opinion article is purely subjective and tinged with a bit of green.
At some point in time a superstar truly embraces teaching his teammates and allows them to flourish. The Los Angeles Lakers find themselves struggling to bring Kobe Bryant back to the collective flow. Bryant was out at least five games and during that time the Lakers found their groove. The ball movement was crisp and everybody felt like they contributed.
Fast forward to the last three road games and Bryant has tried to find his rhythm by forcing shots. We all agree that Bryant's competitive intensity is at a narcissistic level. He believes, and rightfully so, that he can make and take any shot to win games.
He may not admit it, but it probably irked him that the team was that successful without him. This is a man who played through two broken fingers and was hell bent on playing through his ankle woes.
Bryant found life after Shaq was not easy; he did have an NBA record 80-point game but his Lakers were continuously beaten in the early playoff rounds. General Mitch Kupchak then took the necessary steps to give him the help he needed. All of this help resulted in the 2009 NBA Championship.
This year they wanted to get downright defensive and added Ron Artest, a man known for his defensive skills. They have a young experienced championship core, something Boston and Cleveland cannot boast.
So what is the issue? The young Lakers defer too much; Ron-Ron has lost some of his bite and seems somewhat subdued.
Bryant's personality is so dominant it leaves the rest of the team unwilling to step up when the pressure is on.
Bryant has stated that he had a talk with his boys, but somehow the talk has left them even more withdrawn.
The one player to speak up who I have new-found respect for is Pau Gasol. I still find his play soft, but the Spaniard sees the injustice and imbalance that Kobe's offensive forays have caused.
Phil Jackson historically has let his team figure things out, but sometimes it is necessary for a coach to wield a bigger stick and to speak more loudly.