Kobe Bryant gave the death stare that sent Mike Brown on his way out of Los Angeles less than 10 games into the 2012 season.
Now, after hiring Mike D’Antoni—the man who Bryant idolized enough to wear No. 8 for the majority of his career—the Lakers are still sporting an unimpressive 6-7 record. We all know that Kobe has next to no patience for poor performance, especially with the approaching pressure of retirement now that he is in the twilight of his career.
Bryant has rightfully earned a large say as to the moves that the Lakers' front office makes, whether or not Jim Buss likes it. He has helped the Lakers win five championship titles in his illustrious career, and as such has the ability to influence decisions, even though Jim Buss tried to make a move without his approval (by hiring Mike Brown last year).
So, with the Lakers performing as poorly as they are, what are the options that they face considering Kobe Bryant is on the proverbial “last straw”?
The first option is to trade Pau Gasol. Options have already been thrown around as to possible acquisitions, and Kobe has had more than his share of moments of critique of the passive big man. Gasol was an instrumental part of the Lakers' 2009 and 2010 championships, averaging a double-double and over two blocks a game.
But his passiveness has gotten on Kobe’s nerves more than once, and Kobe has called him out in front of the media. So he is the perfect scapegoat for the Lakers' early troubles and a move sending him out of Hollywood might be good for Kobe and Pau.
Option No. 2: fire Mike D’Antoni. This is the most radical move…firing two coaches in the same season is absolutely insane, but it certainly has to be an option on the table. What if Phil Jackson miraculously decides to change his mind and Jim Buss can appropriately court the 11-time champion?
I daresay that the invitation to Phil Jackson is open even with Mike D’Antoni just being hired.
The final option the Lakers have if they want to shake up the organization is to move Kobe. This one is least likely and would be the least intelligent move on their part. Kobe has proven that even with his age, he is one of the best players in the NBA. And his triple-double proved that he is becoming more willing to share the ball.
What should the Lakers do? With all of these options on the table, their best solution is also the simplest: move forward with what you have.
It may not be ideal without the Zen Master, but is there ever a truly ideal situation? LA shouldn’t expect a Hollywood-esque coalition of the best choices to be on the table. Quite frankly, if they look to the fellow sports empire that is the New York Yankees, they should realize that often it isn’t the most “stacked” team that ends up best in every circumstance. (It would be ignorant to fail to acknowledge the Heat, but we all know how that started…far from the paradise expected in South Beach.)
Champions are made by overcoming adversity. A Hollywood ending may still be in sight if Kobe, Dwight, and Co. remain focused on the Larry O’Brien Trophy.