“Lakers Kobe Bryant is cheered for his efforts in the 4th quarter. The Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Sacramento Kings 98-95 in Los Angeles, CA. December 9, 2014. (Photo by John McCoy Daily News)”
As if Kobe Bryant does not already have a heavy workload.
But in addition to the high volume shooting, Bryant could have the additional task in managing point guard duties. After Bryant closed out the Lakers’ 98-95 win on Tuesday over the Sacramento Kings at Staples Center, Lakers coach Byron Scott suggested that marks a sneak preview of things to come.
“You will see it again,” Scott said after practice on Wednesday at the Lakers’ practice facility in El Segundo. “I know it’s very effective and something I’ve been thinking about.”
“Kobe Bryant shoots over Ben McLemore in the first half. The Los Angeles Lakers played the Sacramento Kings in Los Angeles, CA. December 9, 2014. (Photo by John McCoy Daily News)”
The smirk widened on Kobe Bryant’s face as he learned the news.
Magic Johnson argued on Tuesday in New York City to reporters that he hopes the Lakers lose every single game to maximize their chances at a top pick in the 2015 NBA Draft. Perhaps puzzling for Johnson to say such a thing after helping the Lakers to five NBA championships through his sheer talent and strong supporting cast.
“Magic’s one of the most competitive players in time,” Bryant said following the Lakers’ 98-95 win on Tuesday over the Sacramento Kings at Staples Center. “From an owners’ perspective, his opinion is to get top picks and be able to use those as leverage to trade and field a competitive team.”
Los Angeles Lakers’ Kobe Bryant warms up before an NBA basketball game against the Sacramento Kings, Tuesday, Dec. 9, 2014, in Los Angeles. Several athletes have worn “I Can’t Breathe” shirts during warm ups in support of the family of Eric Garner, who died July 17 after a police officer placed him in a chokehold when he was being arrested for selling loose, untaxed cigarettes. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
The Lakers came out and made a statement. It went beyond ending with a 98-95 victory on Tuesday over the Sacramento Kings at Staples Center instead of a loss to improve their draft lottery chances as Magic Johnson hoped.
The Lakers also wore “I Can’t Breathe” T-Shirts both during pre-game warmups and when players sat on the bench. The message is in support of Eric Gardner, a young African American who died in July after a police officer choked him. Though the incident was captured and shown on video, a grand jury decided last week not to indict the police officer.
“I didn’t have to study or research too much after looking at the video,” Lakers guard Kobe Bryant said. “It’s pretty self explanatory.”
Head coach Byron Scott of the Los Angeles Lakers looks on from the bench during the first half against the Washington Wizards at Verizon Center on December 3, 2014 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
The moment has happened to every Lakers’ head coach, and it only took 21 games for Byron Scott to experience it.
How to respond to something Magic Johnson argued that may put the coach in a precarious position.
Johnson said at a promotional event on Tuesday in New York City that he hopes the Lakers “lose every game” so it helps their chances in landing a top lottery pick. His boisterous laugh foreshadowed what Scott said he plans to text Johnson in response.
“LOL,” said Scott, though he then turned serious.
“That’s easy to say, but when you’re behind the scenes and you’re in the trenches and you’re coaching, that’s not something you wan to do,” Scott said. “I don’t think our players look at it that way. We have to try to go out here and win every game possible. If you lose games it’s one thing. But to go out and try to lose, that’s a different story. That sends a message to those guys in there that it goes back to a losing mentality. We don’t want to create that here.”
Former Los Angeles Laker Magic Johnson is joined by WNBA president Laurel Richie in front of Staples Center on Feb. 5, 2014, to announce that he is part of a group buying the Los Angeles Sparks of the WNBA. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)
Magic Johnson once delivered the Lakers five NBA championships during the Showtime Era with timely assists and clutch baskets. But with the Lakers (5-16) off to their worst start in franchise history, Johnson believes the Lakers’ path toward championship prosperity involves something else.
“I hope the Lakers lose every game, because if you’re going to lose, lose. I’m serious,” Johnson told Newsday. “If you’re going to lose, you have to lose, because you can’t be in the middle of the pack. You either have to be great or you have to be bad, to get a good [draft] pick.”
Head coach Byron Scott of the Los Angeles Lakers talks to Carlos Boozer #5 during their game against the Golden State Warriors at ORACLE Arena on November 1, 2014 in Oakland, California. Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
The war of words continued between Lakers Byron Scott and veteran forward Carlos Boozer, who questioned why Scott benched him during the Lakers’ loss on Sunday to the New Orleans Pelicans.
“He’s not the coach,” Scott said. “It’s my opinion. So as a coach, sometimes you have to make tough decisions. It was a tough decision, but I made it. I’ll stick to it and then go from there.”
“Lakers Kobe Bryant shoots for two points during first half action at Staples Center Sunday, December 7, 2014. ( Photo by David Crane/Los Angeles Daily News ) “
The Lakers have suffered losses at a franchise record pace. Their defense has become a non-threatening punching bag that enable both stars and no-name players alike to post career numbers. And the Lakers have failed to offer any consistent signal on when it will all stop.
Yet, one variable has still ensured the Lakers attracting strong interest from fans and media alike. The reason, of course, involves Kobe Bryant, who has posted a league-leading 25.2 points after appearing in only six games last season because of injuries to his left Achilles tendon and left knee. Within that storyline emerges another interesting subplot. Bryant enters the Lakers’ (5-16) game on Tuesday against the Sacramento Kings (10-10) at Staples Center only 62 points away from surpassing Michael Jordan for third place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list.
“I think these milestones are mainly a distraction,” former Lakers legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar said on NBA TV’s “The Beat.” “The important thing for Kobe Bryant are the World Championships and MVPs. He’s done all of those things. He’s already achieved the things that count and that people judge you by. I don’t think he needs to be that emotional.”
“Lakers Carlos Boozer slams in two points during first half action at Staples Center Sunday, December 7, 2014. ( Photo by David Crane/Los Angeles Daily News ) “
Carlos Boozer eventually emerged out of the trainer’s room, the hour-long wait after Monday’s practice delaying the inevitable answer on what he thought of his recent benching.
“Obviously it was a surprise,” Boozer said. “I didn’t expect that. But if it helps the team win, I’m a team player. If it helps the team win, that’s what it’s going to be.”
Clearly, Boozer does not support Lakers coach Byron Scott recently taking away his starting position. Scott shared after the Lakers’ 104-87 loss on Sunday to the New Orleans Pelicans that Boozer felt unhappy about his demotion. Boozer left the locker room afterwards without speaking to reporters. Boozer later admitted to L.A. Newspaper Group, “I don’t know if it’s the answer.”
“That’s not my job,” Boozer said. “My job is to compete, play and help my team win. I’m going to do my job.”
“Lakers Kobe Bryant drives around Pelicans Tyreke Evans during first half action at Staples Center Sunday, December 7, 2014. ( Photo by David Crane/Los Angeles Daily News ) “
The Lakers have hit an iceberg, their worst start in franchise history, league worst defense and no consistent signs of improvement all have contributed toward sinking at the bottom of the Western Conference standings.
But as Kobe Bryant said following the Lakers’ 104-87 loss on Sunday to the New Orleans Pelicans at Staples Center, “If this was the Titanic, I would go down with the ship. I’m not jumping off.”
Will the Lakers (5-16) follow suit? Will they have enough life boats? Will they avoid fighting over them if the sinking becomes inevitable?
Bryant’s humorous metaphor seemed fitting. Lakers coach Byron Scott made his first lineup change of the season in hopes of injecting new energy, a revamped defense and a more organized offense. So Ronnie Price took Jeremy Lin’s starting role at point guard, while Ed Davis started at power forward over Carlos Boozer. But the move just represented shuffling the deck chairs of the Titanic.
The offensive point guard production still looked awful between Price (three points on 1-of-4 shooting) and Lin (three points on 1-of-5 shooting). Boozer and Davis each had 12 points. And the defense still looked atrocious, with power forward Anthony Davis (23 points on 11-of-15 shooting) and point guard Jrue Holiday (22 points on 9-of-17 shooting) having a field day.
“This is where you find out what your identity will be,” Bryant said. “You find out who’s competitive and who’s going to step up and take the challenge.”
He lost his starting position, and Lakers guard Jeremy Lin voiced his disapproval through words.
“I believe I can be a starting point guard in the league and I want to be,” Lin said following the Lakers’ 104-87 loss on Sunday to the New Orleans Pelicans at Staples Center. “That’s been a goal of mine for a long time. I’m not going to lie. It was disappointing when I heard about it.”
He lost his starting position, and Lakers forward Carlos Boozer voiced his disapproval through silence. He left the locker room without speaking to reporters, leaving the man who demoted Boozer to speak for him.
“He wasn’t real happy,” Lakers coach Byron Scott said. “He wasn’t real talkative today.”