CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A window overseeing the Lakers’ practice court provides a visual reminder on what drives this franchise.
This season, though, that image seems to provide nothing more than a reminder of the glorious past and a tease to what might not be obtainable in the uncertain present.
Kobe Bryant isn’t thinking that way.
“I want to win a championship,” Bryant said. “I want to be playing in June.”
Easy to insert plenty of punchlines afterwards. Is Bryant demanding a trade to the Miami Heat? Does he know the Lakers will acquire LeBron James in a trade? Has Bryant lost his mind while rehabbing his torn left Achilles tendon? Does Bryant realize the Lakers’ just barely beat the Charlotte Bobcats, 88-85, Saturday at Time Warner Cable Sports Arena?
Bryant’s not entirely delusional.
He understands the Lakers (11-12) just snapped a three-game losing streak and stand in 12th place in the Western Conference. Bryant also holds out hope that his 21 points on 8 of 15 shooting and seven assists in 32 minutes continuously shows he’ll morph back into the player that once made him great.
“Obviously we have some improvements to make, whether it ‘s with the guys we have in the locker room or whatever management wants to do, I have no idea about that, but it’s not my job to focus on that,” Bryant said. “It’s our job to focus on what we have and making sure we’re making the necessary improvements every day to get there.”
The Lakers have until Feb. 20 to figure that out, most notably on whether they will somehow cut ties with Pau Gasol’s $19.3 million contract without compromising their financial flexibility.
But in the meantime, how can the Lakers even reach that level?
“Playing the right way, changing sides of the floor, moving the ball, playing for each other, making each other better,” Bryant said. “Not playing to head hunt your own shot, playing to get an open opportunity for your teammate. And if we can do that, I think we will make the game a lot easier.”
It was hardly easy for the Lakers in beating Charlotte (10-14), a theme Bryant continues to feed off of for motivation.
“Every year, you have to feel like you have to prove yourself,” he said. “You have to try to find that edge and find that motivation. We certainly have it right there in front of us.”
Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org