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What does Kobe Bryant expect from Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum?

May 12, 2012, 2:00 PM EDT

Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol of Spain walk towards the bench for a time out after losing possession of the ball against the Chicago Bulls during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles Reuters

Kobe Bryant has just about had it with his teammates not showing up, and that’s pretty evident. When he refused to quit and played well with gastroenteritis in Game 6 and his teammates no-showed, you knew there would be consequences. Bryant has come too far and done too much to get that kind of performance from the supporting cast.

And talking to the L.A. Times about Metta World Peace, Bryant let it be known his feelings right now for the rest of the team.

“I expect him to come out and play with the tenacity that he’s known for,” Bryant told reporters after Game 6, a troubling 113-96 loss. “He’s the one guy that I can rely on night in and night out to compete and play hard and play with that sense of urgency and play with no fear. So, I’m looking forward to having that by my side again.”

via Metta World Peace satisfied with conditioning heading into Game 7 – latimes.com.

Ouch.

For his part, Pau Gasol did not take on the responsibility or accept fault. He pretty much just said “Whatever.”

“It’s a comment. It’s an opinion,” Gasol said. “A lot of times opinions are determined by the timing of things. Obviously we’re all happy to get Metta back tomorrow. Hopefully he’ll be a big contrbibutor. I’m glad Kobe relies on him that much.”

via Metta World Peace satisfied with conditioning heading into Game 7 – latimes.com.

Oh, dear.

That’s just awkward.

Look, Gasol’s going to have to live with this. He sulked in Memphis when he wasn’t winning, got gifted to L.A. in a lopsided trade (it working out for Memphis is inconsequential in relation to where the trade stood at the time) and won two titles. He won two titles because of Bryant’s fire and indomitable will, so he’s going to have to live with some vitriol when he fails as spectacularly as he has in this series. It’s a veteran team, you’re supposed to be able to rely on Gasol’s experience in a series like this, and instead, for a second straight year, he’s no-showed.

But what’s maybe most interesting from Bryant is the following quote:

“My type of competitiveness and energy level is not something I expect every guy to have,” Bryant said. “That’s not to say that they don’t have it; it’s just that Metta’s intensity is similar to my own. It’s a simple as that.”

via Metta World Peace satisfied with conditioning heading into Game 7 – latimes.com.

This is pretty amazing revisionist history from Bryant, who has questioned MWP’s performance and commitment throughout his time in L.A. as well, but more important is the first part. The question of whether Bryant really expects everyone to be at his level. For his part, I think he’s being honest. I think if players were to match his intensity, he’d simply become more intense. For Bryant it’s never been about being the best, it’s about beating other people. And there’s a difference there. He’s not just competing against every other team in the league, against his critics, against Michael Jordan, he’s competing against his teammates for who is the most driven on his own team. He wants them to be committed, just maybe not equally so.

But what he doesn’t want is for them to be lazy.

And yeah, Gasol is a target here, but a question has to be asked. Why is Bryant not dragging Andrew Bynum by his earlobe into huddles? Why is he not screaming and glaring at Bynum like he did for so many years to Lamar Odom? Why is he not demanding the same of Bynum he demands of so many? He doesn’t take shots at Bynum, he just says he plans on talking to him. I understand that not every player responds the same way, but Bryant’s never cared about that before. Why is Andrew Bynum different? It’s bizarre to see Bryant giving Bynum the same kid gloves treatment the Lakers organization does. And if he wants to channel his anger somewhere, that’s the first place it needs to go.

 

 

 

  1. cinnalocks - May 12, 2012 at 2:22 PM

    Gasol and Bynum both jog up and down the court. Neither run as if the defense is dependent upon them. Javel McGee is upstaging them both. When they play as well as they can I love them, when they do not get back on defense or play as if it matters it is very upsetting. I they lose to Denver, they need to blow the team up and start a new training camp with Brian Shaw at the Head Coach position. Mike Brown never made since anyway with the truncated season.

    • kinggw - May 12, 2012 at 5:06 PM

      Mike Brown isnt the problem. Do you really think that a guy with no head coaching experience, Brian Shaw, is a better fit for the Lakers just because he was Phil’s assistant? In addition to the Laker job there were 5 other coaching vacancies this past offseason. If Shaw was as good as advertised he would have a head coaching gig someplace.

      The Lakers are showing us the same things they did last season. Pau seems to be on the decline, Bynum isnt quite ready to become the man in LA and Kobe cant do it by himself. It seems to me their issues are more personnel based than anything else. When they put the core of this team together in 08 they knew they had a window. In four years they have three Finals appearances and two titles. They had a good run, the window is just closing.

  2. mytthor - May 12, 2012 at 2:28 PM

    Because he knows Pau can handle it and he knows Bynum can’t. Bynum is a spoiled kid and hopefully this playoffs will be a dose of reality for him. The good thing about Bynum is he has gotten better every year, hopefully that continues on the mental side of the game.

    • savvybynature - May 12, 2012 at 2:55 PM

      I think you have to start something to continue it. Not sure Bynum improving his attitude would qualify.

      Anyone ever consider that Kobe calling his teammates out in the media actually isn’t helping the situation? I’m not defending Bynum’s effort by any means, but when you have teammates that you consider mentally soft maybe playing the if-everyone-else-would-just-play-better-we-would-win-a-championship-since-I’m-so-awesome card after every loss isn’t helping the situation. Sure it shouldn’t matter if his teammates were mentally tough, but since they aren’t, and since the teammates you have right now are the ones you are stuck trying to win that championship with, wouldn’t a truly great leader adapt his style and find another way to motivate them?

      • mytthor - May 12, 2012 at 4:33 PM

        It begs the question of whether it’s possible to win a championship if your 2nd and 3rd best players aren’t mentally tough. I think there’s a school of thought that you make them mentally tough or you don’t win. I don’t know whether it’s correct or not, but it’s not crazy.

      • newgene1187 - May 12, 2012 at 8:10 PM

        Agree totally. We all know that to be true: but as the leader of the team, go a different route than bashing your players. He did hit 4 3s in a row, but threw up 3 bricks after that, when Steve Blake was wide open during one of those plays and Kobe clearly wasn’t. I say just prove your salt without a triangle offense….

    • lyndseymarieee - May 12, 2012 at 7:24 PM

      I can’t believe that getting swept out of the playoffs so unceremoniously last year by the mavericks wasn’t a reality check for him.

  3. 140chrviolation - May 12, 2012 at 2:55 PM

    I just wonder how it is that any of us, those of us who do not have intimate contact with the team, can have an opinion on how Bryant should be treating Bynum relative to Gasol or anyone else. The fact that Kobe works Gasol over in the press and lets Bynum off, is obviously a decision he has made in the context of knowing each guy. None of us has that relationship where we can take a few handicap parking spots, speeding tickets, dorking interests in computers, and atypical body language all fitted in a 7 foot body and then know the subtleties of the psyche that animates said body. I would bet that Kobe knows his big men a tad better then any of us, so I wonder how any of us (in this case Matt) knows what Kobe aught to be saying or doing with his big men.

  4. cdog0o7 - May 12, 2012 at 3:01 PM

    Kobe doesn’t get up in #17′s face because the front office has probably told him not to.

    Jim Buss’s favorite player is #17, and he’ll blow up the whole laker organization just to prove he was right to draft #17 and not trade him for a star like Jason Kidd or Kevin Garnett.

    Just one less turf war that Kobe wants to battle.

    Plus – whats the point at yelling at #17. He doesn’t listen anyways.

    #1. Misses meetings with general manager.
    #2. Commits flagrant fouls to take himself out of the game.
    #3 Complains about not playing the 4th quarter – in a blowout – because he didn’t try for the 1st 3 quarters. (This happened against OKC in the regular season as well).

    Maybe Kobe isn’t yelling at #17 because he knows there is no point – he’s a lost cause with no heart, and Kobe doesn’t respect guys with no heart for the game of basketball or playing as a team.

  5. mungman69 - May 12, 2012 at 3:19 PM

    I dunno. No one who isn’t on the court or on the bench knows. It really doesn’t matter this year. Miami will beat Indiana, Philly and whomever comes out of the west.

    • Mr. Wright 212 - May 12, 2012 at 3:39 PM

      Yeah right… not without ref help.

  6. zxrated - May 12, 2012 at 4:34 PM

    Because there’s no real relationship there between Bynum and Kobe. Indifference is the nature of there working relation. This is Kobe’s fault. When Kobe threw Bynum under the bus in 07 the seed was forever sown between them. Bynum like Kobe when he was younger felt betrayed by those who took shots at him as ayoung buc coming up. Kobe has never forgiven those that dogged him out in his early days. Bynum has no true loyalty to the Lakers because of Kobe and LA fans dissing him in his youth. Kobe has no merit or good will to stand on in the chastising of Bynum and they both know it.

    Bynum speaks in code during interviews. The most telling of which was after the loss to the Wizzards. Bynum said of the loss and performance of the team “we would be ok if we kept it real with each other” This was during a losing stretch shortly after the players only meeting the team had. IMO it was a dig at Kobe.

  7. addict2sport - May 12, 2012 at 6:04 PM

    Kobe doesn’t respect Bynum enough to involve himself with talking about or talking to the 7 footer. Bynum doesn’t respect Kobe so it wouldn’t matter anyway.

  8. 11jlacy - May 12, 2012 at 7:18 PM

    All I know the lakeshow betta handle there biz all r nothing metta artest should pay big dibs.

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