I like it when a team rewards a veteran who gave his blood, sweat and tears to his organization. Loyalty is such a lost art in professional sports, so when I see a team hook its player up with a new contract, I usually applaud it.
In the case of Kobe Bryant’s new contract with the Los Angeles Lakers, not so much.
No one is saying Kobe Bryant is turning into an “okay” NBA player before our eyes. Before he suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon late last season, Bryant still averaged 27.3 points, six assists, and 5.6 rebounds per game. And that was during a season where he played through a variety of injuries.
It’s just that I do not believe in investing in risky commodities.
Bryant is coming off that aforementioned ruptured Achilles tendon last May, and the timetable for rehabbing that injury is at least a calendar year. How could the Lakers be sure that they will be getting the same Kobe who is one of the best players in the NBA last season? Will they even get Kobe back by the end of this calendar year?
And now with various stars destined to hit the free agent market next season (LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, and Dwyane Wade to name a few), the Lakers could not afford to have too much of their salary tied up. That changed when they re-upped Kobe to that ridiculous two-year, $48 million extension.
And yeah, I know that the Lakers have media deals that help them to more than afford that extension. However the last time I checked, professional sports is all about winning championships than making the most loot (ask the Dallas Cowboys’ Jerry Jones how that is working out for him).
And speaking of the dollars, what that signing did was send a message to the rest of the league which said that the Lakers is STILL Kobe’s team until he retires. That’s not such a good message to sell to potential superstar free agents looking for a new home.
And it seems to me that Kobe has made more than enough money in his career, and that he would take less in order to bring in the right cats to help him win that coveted sixth championship. But as usual, Kobe’s super-sized ego trumped common sense.
I will say this: that is good news for this life-long Laker hater. That signing just reaffirmed that Kobe and the Lakers will not be winning another championship any time soon.