Last week, Kobe Bryant called the people at ESPN "idiots" for ranking him 40th on their list of the top 500 NBA players. Well, when he hears the latest indictment coming out of Bristol, the 16x All-Star will need a full-blow seven second delay and bail money.
In a scathing article that details the Lakers' fall from grace, ESPN The Magazine pins much of the team's recent failures on, perhaps, the greatest player in franchise history. The piece quotes agents, front office personnel, and people close to the Lakers' inner circle as saying that Bryant's ego has effectually destroyed the Laker cache. Now, the team has trouble landing free agents and, when the franchise does ink a star, Bryant's disposition drives them away.
On Steve Nash: "In the days before LA acquired Nash, sources say, the point guard wanted to hear from Bryant that the Lakers' star was amenable to having Nash control the ball much of the time -- a key tenet of the D'Antoni offense from the Suns days. When Lakers brass asked Bryant to call Nash, Bryant failed to do so, saying he preferred that Nash call him. The pettiness took days to resolve and nearly scuttled the deal."
On Dwight Howard: "When Howard asked why his teammates let the injured center take all the flak when the Lakers' season went south, Nash said he didn't know that Howard had felt that way and that had he known, he would have acted differently. Bryant, on the other hand, offered a crash course in developing thick skin and a mini lecture on learning how to win. Sources told ESPN Insider Chris Broussard that Bryant's lecture was "a complete turnoff" for Howard."
On Andrew Bynum: "One Lakers insider remembers a time in 2012 when Bynum -- about a year after declaring that the Lakers had on-court "trust issues" -- was due for a contract extension: "Andrew's question in contract talks was: 'How are you going to rein in Kobe?' We couldn't give direct answers. My immediate thought was, Well, he doesn't want to play with Kobe if we can't answer that question."
Depending on where you stand (Stan?) on Kobe, ESPN's findings might not be all that shocking, but the anecdotes are a must-read. You can check out the article in full here.