I’d like to start off by saying THIS HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH LEBRON JAMES. This decision was not made by an hour long special on ESPN, but this decision changed the NBA. The decision I’m referring to is Kobe Bryant’s decision to re-sign with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2004 instead of signing with cross town team Los Angeles Clippers (please note I used the word team, not rival).
Kobe had a brewing beef with the Lakers organization who had blew up the entire roster that had just made it to the finals. This decision came at a time similar to Lebron’s situation. The Lakers had just lost to the Detroit Pistons in the NBA Finals, Shaquille O’neal had been traded to the Miami Heat, Phil Jackson retired, and veterans Karl Malone and Gary Payton did not work out for the Lakers with Malone and Bryant having a bad end to their relationship.
The Lakers were at a point which the franchise had not been since the early 90s. They had picked up Lamar Odom, Caron Butler, and Brian Grant from Miami for Shaq. They also picked up Chris Mihm, Marcus Banks, and Chucky Atkins from Boston which proved that this would be a rebuilding project. New coach Rudy Tomjanovich was hired, which would ultimately prove not to work out. Even with this, Kobe believed in the organization and signed his seven year, $136.4-milllion contract. He said, “It feels great to be in the city of Los Angeles playing for the Lakers the next seven years.”
This decision would prove to be the best decision of Kobe’s career. In 2004, the Lakers missed the playoffs for the first time since 1994, and all the pressure was on Kobe. Critics claimed he could not win without Shaq. Coach Phil Jackson returned to the bench and the Lakers once again made it into the playoffs but lost in the first round twice to the Phoenix Suns.
In 2007, the Lakers traded Kwame Brown for power forward Pau Gasol. This was arguably one of the best trades in Lakers history and automatically made the Lakers a contender again. The Lakers made it to the finals in 2008 in which they lost to the Celtics. They came back the next year and won against the Magic, and just last season beat the Celtics.
This decision changed Kobe’s legacy forever. He has now had seven NBA Finals appearances and five NBA championships. He is considered the best player in the post-Jordan era. The Lakers enter this season as the defending champions and are looking to three-peat which would tie Kobe with MJ for six titles.
This decision also changed the landscape of the NBA forever. The Lakers once again became a powerhouse by resigning Kobe. Just imagine of Kobe had gone to the Clippers, the worst franchise in the league with one of the worst owners in sports. Even though Kobe has talent which attracts players, Donald Sterling is cheap and dumb enough not to sign high quality players. This is why the Clippers have been struggling for years.
How Lebron’s “decision” plays out is yet to be seen. But as far as I’m concerned, Kobe’s decision to stay with the Lakers was one that should not be overlooked.
This is just an opinion…so please Pardon My Bias.