Smith shared his view of the situation on Wednesday's edition of First Take:
"I think he's holding LeBron accountable. I think he's looking at LeBron James and saying, 'OK, the heat is rising. Excuse me this ain't Cleveland, 30 minutes from where you grew up. This ain't Miami. This is Laker Nation. Excuse me, we are about championships with this franchise. You don't get to get a pass.' That's not what he said, but I'm telling you that's how he feels."
The Lakers have failed to reach expectations after signing James to a four-year, $153.3 million contract in free agency last offseason. L.A. owns a 31-40 record, including a 1-9 mark in its past 10 games, and will soon be mathematically eliminated from playoff contention.
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It's hard to blame the struggles entirely on LeBron, though.
The four-time MVP is averaging 27.5 points, 8.5 rebounds, 8.0 assists and 1.3 steals while shooting 51.4 percent from the field across 51 appearances. He ranks sixth among all players in ESPN's real plus-minus and seventh in player efficiency rating.
Bryant has remained mostly quiet publicly about the Lakers' issues. In December, Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times noted the five-time NBA champion expressed confidence the James-led Lakers will eventually win a title, though.
"Of course they will. Of course they will," Kobe said. "They have determination to figure it out. They will figure it out. They have talented pieces …. So enjoy the journey because we'll be champions before you know it. Then we'll just be laughing at all the Warrior fans."
Smith's comments suggest Bryant might be sounding a different tune privately, however.