The Lakers Can’t Make a 3-Pointer
No matter how good Kobe Bryant is, there will always be a better player. That’s the way things are.
In the summer of 2009, when Kobe Bryant was the NBA’s most valuable player, his shot-blocking ability was one of the most important parts of the Lakers’ success. After all, with the Lakers winning 55 games a year, Kobe has an extremely high likelihood of being an All-Star as well as being on the cover of Sports Illustrated in the coming months.
But when the Lakers don’t need him to be an All-Star at the end of the year, the great Lakers player has been eclipsed by a great competitor in the summer league.
The Lakers have had their fair share of stars like Kobe, but one of the most intriguing stories this summer has been the emergence of a young, 6’7″ sophomore named Kyle Kuzma.
When you compare Kuzma with Bryant, the comparison is an easy one.
As Kuzma was building his game this summer, and Bryant is at another level at the beginning of his prime, Kuzma is starting to emerge as a potential All-Star himself. With a career to go and a lot to prove, that’s what it looks like might be happening with the sophomore.
During NBA Summer League play this summer, the Lakers’ leading man was doing just that.
On Saturday, June 20, the Lakers won a close game over the Chicago Bulls. And the next day Kobe had his own personal victory as he defeated LeBron James to win the NBA’s scoring championship for the second season in a row. But just before that contest, there was one that didn’t take place at the Barclays Center where Kobe was being honored as he accepted his 2014-15 NBA title:
He finished the game with 32 points, but Kobe didn’t dominate anyone. Not even James did. This game was an afterthought. And while it was fun watching the All-Star game, Kobe Bryant didn’t have to do anything remarkable in that contest to take home the NBA scoring title.
So, why then was Kobe Bryant’s presence felt in the game that would later become known as the “Bryant Slam Dunk Contest” where he dunked for 15 straight times?