Kobe Bryant is as close as the league has to that Michael Jordan-level of perfectionism. Bryant came into the league and quickly ascended to a superstar- and championship-level of play. He has known nothing but winning.
He and Shaquille O’Neal won and fought together and then with each other in the pursuit of greatness. It was no coincidence that Bryant and O’Neal’s tug-of-war ended badly when the Lakers lost in the 2004 Finals, a mere two seasons after their three-year reign as champions ended. It was at this point that Bryant knew he needed to win some on his own to secure his legacy.
It is safe to say he did that in winning back-to-back titles in 2009 and 2010 and beating even O’Neal to that coveted fifth title.
Now it has been a year since the Lakers were on the top and it is not looking like the Lakers are at the forefront of contenders in the Western Conference. Los Angeles sits at 14-11 and two and a half games behind the Clippers. Yes, the Lakers are getting out shined by their traditionally doormat co-tenants.
There are certainly plenty of rumblings that the Lakers are preparing for their post-Kobe future while trying to keep the team competitive and up to its championship standards.
That does not mean Kobe Bryant does not expect to wait until tomorrow for a championship. That championship goal still exists very strongly in Kobe’s thought process despite the trials Los Angeles has gone through and the expectation of this Lakers dynasty’s downfall:
“I’m always frustrated,” Bryant told Andrew Kamanetzky of ESPN Los Angeles. “I’m frustrated when we lose one game. But I believe we obviously tried to improve our team. They tried to make a move (for now-Los Angeles Clippers point guard Chris Paul), and it fell through. I’m sure they’re working on other things as well. I’m not going to get bent out of shape, or hoot and holler, or lose my temper or whatever. I believe we’re all on the same page, we know what we want to do. We know what the goal is.”
Bryant has always been someone who is not satisfied unless he is winning. I am sure he was more upset with the loss and the relatively difficult stretch the team has gone through this year than passing his former teammate, Shaquille O’Neal, for fifth all time in the NBA’s scoring annals. That is just how Bryant rolls. The bottom line is all that matters to him.
And the bottom line is winning.
It is that never-be-satisfied attitude that has made Kobe Bryant so good. And he certainly has done everything within his offensive powers to get the Lakers back to the Finals and back to a championship. Of course, many would claim his 29.3 points per game and league-high 37.9 percent usage actually hurt his team.
But that is Kobe. He will find a way to turn this slight into further motivation. And, he will find a way to turn his team back into a winner.