Phil Jackson Calls Out Kobe Bryant: Is the End Near for the Lakers?

Allen KimSenior Analyst IJanuary 3, 2011

Phil Jackson Calls Out Kobe Bryant: Is the End Near for the Lakers?

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    Phil Jackson recently called out Kobe Bryant in a press conference after yet another loss and the team is in shambles right now.

    All is not well in Laker—land and the team has many issues that they need to quickly address if they want to make a run at a three—peat and solidify themselves as a dynasty.

    With age and injuries starting to catch up to the team, not to mention Jackson's retirement looming, is the end really near for the Lakers and their recent dominance?

Yes: Complacency

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    Kobe Bryant called out the team saying that they were complacent, but he wasn't the only one.

    Lamar Odom seems to share the same sentiment and was recently quoted saying, "Part of our problem is we're cocky...We feel like we shouldn't lose, we can't lose."

    Well, the Lakers have been given their wake up call and it's time for the team to respond.

    They have lost four of their last six games, with each of those losses coming by at least 15 points.

    They have the fourth best record in the West and they're far from being the dominant team many envisioned in preseason.

    Yes, the Lakers are the reigning NBA champions, but there are no guarantees in life and in the NBA.

    They have to discover that same hunger that got them to the NBA Finals in each of the last three seasons.

No: Phil Jackson

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    Phil Jackson is widely considered to be one of, if not the greatest coach in NBA history.

    He has 11 championship rings and has three, three—peat championship runs. He'll be looking for his 12th title and fourth three—peat in his final season coaching in the NBA.

    Jackson has been as consistent as they come and he knows what to do when push comes to shove. He'll have the Lakers prepped for the postseason.

Yes: Defense

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    "Defense wins championships" is a cliché and at times tired saying, but it rings true in every major sport.

    The Lakers have had trouble sustaining leads and slowing down the offensive attack of many teams.

    Los Angeles is tied for 14th in opponents points allowed and that does not bode well for the team.

    They've not only given up over 100 points to nearly a dozen teams this season, but most of those came against inferior competition.

    If they can't stop the bad teams from scoring on them, how can they expect to consistently do the same against the very best the league has to offer?

No: Kobe Bryant

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    No matter who you believe is the best player in the NBA, Kobe Bryant ranks near the very top if not No. 1 on most people's lists.

    I believe that Bryant is still the best two-way player in the league and his ability as a closer is unmatched.

    While Bryant has battled through some injuries, no one questions whether or not he is capable of putting a team on his shoulders and carrying them to a victory.

    Bryant has put on some vintage performances this season and he's clearly still in his prime.

Yes: Locker Room Discord

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    It starts from the top with Phil Jackson calling out Kobe Bryant.

    After the Lakers lost to the Grizzlies, Jackson told the media that "We get behind early on in the third quarter on some stupid plays—poor passing, poor transition defense—and then Kobe has to screw up the game and start energizing the team by going one-on-one and that takes the rest of the guys out as a consequence."

    If the head coach and star player are not on the same page, then it spells trouble for the team.

    The team's success will fall on the shoulders of Bryant and how he responds to being singled out.

    After the Lakers loss to the Spurs the other week, Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom indirectly indicated that Bryant needed to get back to playing team ball. While it was a subtle jab, their post—game comments pointed a finger at Bryant.

    Even Andrew Bynum, who hasn't been playing with the team for very long this season sees the selfish attitude on the court. He was quoted saying, "we're not really playing for each other right now. We're not playing to set the next man up."

    The team is out of sorts right now and they appear to lack the cohesion necessary to be a championship team.

No: Stacked With Talent

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    Quite simply, the Lakers are stacked from top to bottom.

    Aside from their point guard position—where they get serviceable production from—Los Angeles has some of the most talented players in the league at nearly every position.

    Their bench has a number of players that would start on many other teams and they have a lot of depth to back them up.

Yes: Teams No Longer Fear the Lakers

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    The dominant teams in the league enjoy a certain psychological edge over their opponents.

    However, teams no longer fear the once—almighty Lakers.

    Rudy Gay dropped this quote on the media after their second victory over the Lakers this season: "It's just like any other team. Every other team in this league is looking at them like they're just another team to beat."

    Los Angeles has been very beatable this season losing to many teams that are considered to be lesser competition.

    They only have three wins over teams with winning records and they've been unable to take advantage of their incredibly soft schedule and home court.

    They've already lost five home games this season after losing only seven total last year.

    The reigning champs are no longer the team to beat.

No: Championship Pedigree

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    The Los Angeles Lakers championship squad from last season is largely intact and they've made a number of key additions to the team.

    This year's Lakers team is arguably deeper and better than ever before.

    While their play has not been indicative of their depth, this is a championship tested team that knows how to get the job done when it matters the most.

Yes: Texas Two-Step

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    The Los Angeles Lakers trail in the standings behind the San Antonio Spurs by 6.5 games.

    The Spurs are on top of the West and they recently defeated the Lakers by 15 points.

    Even the Dallas Mavericks—who only have a 2.5 game lead on the Lakers—not only have had a tougher schedule, but they have a better record to show for it.

    If the Lakers aren't even the best team in the Western Conference, they can't expect to make their way back to the Finals.

    The road to the promised land goes through Texas right now.

No: The Playoffs

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    In the end, anything can happen once you reach the playoffs.

    Low playoff seeds have battled their way through the top competition and come out on top.

    Whether or not Los Angeles ends up with one of the higher seeds will be largely irrelevant.

    Sure, home court advantage helps, but the best teams should have no trouble going on the road and snatching victory away from the home team.

    Championships are not won in the regular season.

Conclusion

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    The Los Angeles Lakers are still a stacked squad and there's no reason to think that they're out of the running even with their recent skid.

    There is without question a cause for major concern, but it's still too early in the regular season to write the team's obituary.

    Even with Phil Jackson retiring at season's end, the very foundation of the team still remains.

    Also, you can't expect the Lakers to hire any less than the very best to replace Jackson on the sidelines.

    Let's see how they fare once the spring season kicks in before we bury the team.