Kobe Bryant Isn't the Culprit in the Lamar Odom Stalemate

Paul PeszkoSenior Writer IJuly 22, 2009

ORLANDO, FL - JUNE 14:  Rashard Lewis #9 of the Orlando Magic goes to the basket past Kobe Bryant #24 and Lamar Odom #7 of the Los Angeles Lakers in Game Five of the 2009 NBA Finals on June 14, 2009 at Amway Arena in Orlando, Florida.  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 Elsa/Getty Images)

What more do you Lakers fans want from Kobe Bryant?


Hasn’t the guy given that as well—and plenty of it?

Hasn’t he played his guts out for two seasons, refusing surgery on his mangled finger? Hasn’t he been banged up and yet refused to leave even one game?

Why are you people asking him to restructure his contract so Lamar Odom can get paid more money? Kobe Bryant is not the culprit here.

The MVP of the NBA Championship deserves every penny he makes, if not more. He is the one who puts butts in every seat not only at Staples Center but at every single venue across the country where the Lakers play.

If he were not on the Lakers, who would fill those seats? Odom or Sasha Vujacic? Yeah, right.

Bryant is not the culprit here nor is Lakers Owner Jerry Buss. The real culprits are Andrew Bynum, Vujacic, Luke Walton, and Mitch Kupchak for his role in granting them such lucrative contracts far beyond their worth to the Lakers.

Oh, and there’s one more who falls in that category—Odom.

Why aren’t you Laker aficionados asking any of them to restructure their contracts to reflect what they are actually worth to the team?

Why don’t you ask—no, plead—with Andrew Bynum to take less money over the next two years while he hopefully learns how to play his position in the triangle and stops fouling out and maybe, just maybe tries to condition himself to play one full season?

Why don’t you ask Sasha Vujacic to take less money until he learns how to play defense and not take three-point shots with 20 seconds left on the play clock, or commit a defensive foul within 20 seconds of coming off the bench?

Why don’t you ask Walton to turn himself into the authorities for grand theft by defrauding the mentally challenged Kupchak? Walton's ridiculous contract amounts to that.

And again, there’s Odom.

Don’t tell me he deserves big bucks like his agent, Mr. Schwartz seems to be demanding. Odom and Schwartz have gotten big bucks from Dr. Buss over the past four years.

But Odom’s inconsistent play until the second half of this season certainly hadn’t proved deserving of that kind of money.

It would have been more appropriate then for Dr. Buss to have paid Odom his weight in See’s Candies during most of his contract tenure.

Now, when no one, not one soul in the media, expected Dr. Buss to offer Odom anything substantially above seven million dollars, Buss went into his own pocket to pull out a $30 million contract offer.

And I do mean out of his own pocket.

With the luxury tax being 100 percent over the cap limit, that contract offer was almost entirely coming out of Buss’s pocket. And I repeat, no one, none of the NBA pundits expected an offer anywhere near that amount.

It was the kind of offer that Odom and Schwartz should have jumped on immediately.

So, I can’t blame Dr. Buss for being offended after paying Odom all that money in the past and not getting equal value in return.

I don’t blame Dr. Buss for pulling the offer.

The next one of you fools who thinks Bryant should pay for Mr. Schwartz and his conniving with Pat Riley had better burn your No. 24 jersey along with those purple and gold flags on your car or SUV.

Whether Odom is with this team, basketball fans will fill the Staples Center and venues across the country to see No. 24 along with Pau Gasol, Ron Artest (who should have been a Laker long before now), and Derek Fisher.

All I can say is this: Hang tough, Kobe.

Don’t give up a single penny and enjoy your vacation.

See you in October—with or without Lamar Odom.


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