What Do Kobe Bryant and the L.A. Lakers Have Left?

Alfred Garrido@@lfredgarridoContributor IIIAugust 10, 2011

DALLAS, TX - MAY 06:  Guard Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers reacts during a 98-92 loss against the Dallas Mavericks in Game Three of the Western Conference Semifinals during the 2011 NBA Playoffs on May 6, 2011 at American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

If Kobe Bryant is to sit on his nice, soft couch today, with his daughter on his lap, his legs raised and the TV on showing his best on the NBA's Greatest Games, I bet he would already have the self-actualization he deserves.

Kobe's got five championship rings, two Finals MVPs and a league MVP plum. He was a 13-time All-Star, a four-time All-Star game MVP and a two-time scoring champion. He was in the first and second All-NBA numerous times. He was a leading brand endorser, a commercial model, an idol and a slam dunk champion.  

When looking at these achievements, all of L.A. would be so much grateful that all of these wouldn't turn into banners or else the Lakers would now be playing home games on an open court.

But reality orates that Kobe isn't retired to the couch yet and that he still has some powerful diesel left in his tank. He is at the ripe age of 32 with nagging injuries crawling up his heels—literally. We saw how this bothered him in the 2011 postseason against the New Orleans Hornets and the champs, Dallas Mavericks.

It is not safe to say, somehow, that it was the reason they got swept by the Mavs because Kobe has impressive numbers in that series. Now the past has been buried and a new season may still be at the hanger because of the lockout and Kobe has been capitalizing by returning his injury-plagued body to form.

Kobe is a huge block that can't be destroyed anytime soon, but it wouldn't take long for the process to develop. But for the last few weeks, Kobe has invaded Asia playing exhibitions in China and the Philippines. His superb performances show that he still got it.

The power to play hasn't left Kobe at all but the power to win a championship may have.

I don't have anything against Kobe or the L.A. Lakers but the reality is far from what every fan has been dreaming of. Unless the Lakers would be able to acquire the likes of Dwight Howard, Kobe may not earn his sixth title. Next season is a turning point to the Lakers-dominated decade. They have a new coach in Mike Brown who openly brought in a new system o the court. The Lakers are now looking at their new face in the mirror. Next season could change the landscape of the Lakers.

Kobe would still be face of Los Angeles, of course, but the dominance of 2009 and 2010 would not be there anymore. As I said, unless they brought in an impact player, its 17th title would still have to wait. Kobe is not getting any younger. That is a fact even change can't change. In any league and any sport, a star always has to lose its brightness. Kobe would still have showtime and buzzer-beaters and furious dunks, but in the long run he would not be able to conceal the weaknesses that may be exploited by stronger teams with young guns.

It is not closed anyway that the Lakers will still win their seventeenth trophy and Kobe may still hug his sixth, that is, again, if the Lakers would be wise enough to weigh their options and play strategy basketball to the best. As of now, Kobe would have to leap off the couch, kiss his daughter and turn the TV off because the gym is waiting for the greatest Laker ever (sorry Magic).