New York City is a place unlike any other.
Globally, it has cache as one of the coolest, slickest, and most exciting place in the world.
I work in the city, and I know people who live in Manhattan...and it is everything it’s cracked up to be.
Regardless of all the coolness NYC has to offer, it will not lure in Kobe Bryant, as a recent Sports Illustrated article suggested.
The argument for Bryant to come to the Knicks is as follows: Bryant enjoyed playing for Mike D'Antoni in the Olympics, and Phil Jackson may retire soon. Plus, Bryant has not yet worked out a contract extension with the Lakers, leaving him a window to come to New York for a big payday.
Which leads us to the obligatory: it’s New York City! Madison Square Garden! Big market! Lots of media and attention!
I love living here and I love this city, but that’s not nearly enough to draw in Bryant. Not by a long shot.
Let’s think about this logically.
If Phil Jackson retires after this season, the Lakers aren’t going to replace him with a lemon as a coach. They’ll get somebody great, because coaching for the L.A. Lakers is a desirable job for great coaches.
Bryant opted out of the clause that would have allowed him to renegotiate a new deal roughly a year ago because he wanted to stay with the Lakers.
As for all the intangibles that New York City offers, they don’t exceed what Los Angeles can offer.
Madison Square Garden may garner a lot of respect in the basketball world, but in the same respect, the Staples Center is not the Verizon Center (home of the Washington Wizards.)
The Staples Center has history, as well as the glitz and glam of Hollywood—including lighting, and the mobs of uber-famous movie stars who sit courtside nightly.
Sorry New York, but I’ll see your Spike Lee and raise you a Jack Nicholson.
As far as being a huge media market, Los Angeles is no slouch, even compared to New York City.
So if L.A. can match New York City arena for arena, media market for media market, famous fan for famous fan, what does New York have for Bryant that LA does not?
What do Los Angles and the Lakers have to offer Bryant that New York cannot?
If Bryant is looking for media attention, L.A. is the ultimate basketball city. In New York, the Knicks are still third behind the Yankees, the Jets, and the Giants.
If Bryant is looking to be a part of basketball history, the Lakers franchise is legendary, from Jerry West to Magic Johnson. Being a part of that has to be appealing to Bryant, certainly more so than the Knicks who, even at their best, weren’t on the Lakers' level.
If Bryant is looking for money, the Lakers are bound to pay up. They have a smart owner who knows what he’s got in Bryant.
The Lakers are a good team without Bryant. That was proved this season when Bryant went out with injury and the team put together some impressive wins. Bryant just makes them an elite team.
The team has other reasons to keep Bryant around. If the Lakers do lose Jackson to retirement after this season, nobody knows his system and coaching style better than Kobe.
In the documentary “Kobe Doin’ Work,” Bryant said that it’s not unusual for him and Jackson to call the same plays without even knowing it because their minds are so synced.
Keeping Bryant will allow for some continuity between Jackson and whoever comes next.
He’ll provide leadership for the team and be able to bridge the gap between the Jackson era and beyond.
There’s no good reason for the Lakers to part ways with Bryant now, and Bryant doesn't have a reason to part ways with the Lakers.
He has the money, the attention, and he already is a part of basketball history.
What he wants now are rings.
The Knicks are not a good team right now. They’ve been placating their fans with talk of clearing cap space to draw in a marquee superstar.
This strategy has left the Knicks bereft of talented role players, leaving them no one to surround a talented star with.
Let’s look at it from Bryant's point of view: Who would you rather play with? David Lee or Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum?
Would you rather play with Danilo Gallinari or Lamar Odom? Tracy McGrady or Ron Artest and Derek Fisher?
Bryant has some great years left in him to play, but he knows the clock is ticking on his career.
The Lakers are set up for him to win now.
The team has been built around Bryant to allow him to play his style—to take his open shots, set up teammates, and float around on defense, looking for opportunities to pick off a pass.
He doesn’t have to carry the Lakers, and he doesn’t want to. When he seriously threatened to leave the Lakers years ago, it was because he was worried it was becoming a one-man show.
Bryant wants talent around him; he doesn’t want to carry a rebuilding team. If he goes to the Knicks, he will certainly have to step into that role.
Bryant has it made in LA, and suggesting that he’d uproot now at this point in his career is ridiculous.