The Los Angeles Lakers stand at 9-10 on the season, far from the championship-caliber team that they look like on paper. Many parties have been blamed for the team's slow start, from former coach Mike Brown's failed Princeton offense, to Pau Gasol's struggles, to Steve Nash's comeback from a leg injury being slower than usual.
I hate to say it, Kobe fans, but the Black Mamba is easily the league's biggest hypocrite based on this approach. Be it acting like a prima donna or refusing to trust his teammates, Bryant has not once taken the blame for any of his team's troubles. And this is the man who is supposed to be the leader and set an example for the rest of the team.
The sad truth is that, despite being the face of the franchise, Kobe Bryant is one of the primary reasons for the Lakers' struggles. His behavior on and off the court have contributed to his being so, and he needs to change his tune now.
Bryant's biggest problem is that he picks and chooses just when to be a leader on the court. He leads the league in scoring with 28 points per game and has done his fair share of passing at just under five dimes per contest. With Nash out and Bryant as the Lakers' best playmaker, that number needs to be much higher.
Look at it this way. When the Lakers played the Houston Rockets on November 18, Bryant was in full team-player mode. Instead of trying to take over as a scorer, he got everyone involved and finished with a triple-double: 22 points, 11 rebounds, and 11 assists.
Fast-forward to December 4, when the Lakers faced the Rockets again. Bryant notched just two assists, but scored 39 points on 14-of-31 shooting. Rather than being a playmaker, he went into complete ball-hog mode.
Second on the Lakers in attempts that night was Antawn Jamison, who shot 6-of-12. All-Star center Dwight Howard only had nine field goal attempts, which was unacceptable since Pau Gasol was out of the game with knee tendinitis.
After that game, did Bryant admit that he got carried away and that he should have gotten his teammates involved? No, he did not. Instead of copping to what he did wrong, he just discussed how big a loss Gasol was and that "we're missing a lot."
The fact of the matter is that Bryant may preach patience and call out teammates, but he is never as quick to admit his own faults. He is second in the NBA in field-goal attempts with 19.2 per game, trailing just Carmelo Anthony of the New York Knicks, and the next Laker following him is Howard with 11.2. Does anybody else see what's wrong with this picture?
This is not the work of a leader, but that of an egotistical, selfish player who seems to care more about his own numbers than what is best for his team.
Granted, some may argue that Bryant is not a ball hog, and that his decent passing ability and overall efficiency—not to mention Nash being hurt—make his taking so many shots a necessity. While partly true, there is still no reason why he should have little trust in teammates who have helped him win a championship before, as well as the league's best center in Howard.
In fact, when was the last time that Bryant took the blame for a bad loss by the Lakers? The man never goes out and says that he's not leading the team the way that he should or that he and the rest of his teammates need to come together to figure out how to fix the problems that are plaguing them.
Instead, he goes on and on about how everyone else on the team can get better. He is picture-perfect, so the rest of the Lakers must be the problem. Last I checked, this was not the definition of a leader.
At the end of the day, Bryant is still one of the league's best players. He is a consistent scorer who also plays great defense, which is rare among today's generation of players.
Unfortunately, Bryant has failed in one of the most important regards in being a true leader. He sounds off on so many different subjects and is quick to criticize but always makes himself look like the golden boy, even though he is due his fair share of criticism.
In doing so, he has turned himself into the NBA's definitive hypocrite, and people are starting to take notice now that the Lakers are struggling.