Is Kobe Bryant's in-Game Tweeting a Major Distraction for Los Angeles Lakers?

Josh MartinNBA Lead WriterApril 22, 2013

LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 12:  Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers is consoled by Metta World Peace #15 of the Los Angeles Lakers after injuring himself against the Golden State Warriors in the second half at Staples Center on April 12, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. The Lakers defeated the Warriors 118-116. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Lakers have seen just about every imaginable iteration of Kobe Bryant this season. There's been Scoring Kobe, Point Guard Kobe, Posterizing Kobe, Coach Kobe.

And, since tearing his Achilles against the Golden State Warriors, Big Brother Kobe.

Bryant's seized the opportunity, while laid up in bed at his estate in Orange County, to expand and improve his "Twitter game" by offering comment on the Lakers' every move from afar—for better or worse. He first warned the world of his coming proclivities prior to L.A.'s last regular-season meeting with the San Antonio Spurs:

And offered his initial live critique of the Lakers' on-court performance during his team's season-ending overtime win against the Houston Rockets:

But even those pointers paled in comparison to the relative flood of tweets the Mamba dispensed from the opening tip of the Lakers' 91-79 loss in the Alamo City. It began innocuously enough, with a bedside evaluation of Steve Nash's movement in the point guard's first action since late March:

It wasn't long, though, before Kobe started tweeting out "tips" for his purple-and-gold teammates:

Not that Mike D'Antoni was all that enthused. The Lakers coach was informed of Bryant's social media activity after the loss to the Spurs. He suggested it's fine that Kobe publicize his opinions because, right now, he's "a fan":

Which, apparently, confused Kobe a bit:

After all, how could a guy who's been the face of the glitziest franchise in the NBA for the better part of two decades be "just" a fan? How could a future Hall of Famer with five championship rings and untold influence within the organization simply cheer on the Lakers like any other supporter?

How could he? Because that's all he can and, frankly, should do right now.

There's nothing wrong with the content of Kobe's tweets. Yes, the Lakers should get the ball inside as often as possible since they have Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard up front. But that's no mystery, what with their perimeter play as depleted as it is.

What's wrong with Kobe's tweets in this case is merely that they exist. His in-game pontificating, while insightful and interesting at times, can only undermine D'Antoni's efforts to push the beat-up, short-handed Lakers past the far superior Spurs.

If Kobe can call out his coach in public now, why can't or shouldn't any other Laker who's still in uniform do the same? And if Kobe, who's almost universally beloved by Lakers fans, doesn't seem to fully support D'Antoni, why should any of the team's faithful feel otherwise?

It's not that D'Antoni isn't ripe for or doesn't deserve questioning. It's not that Mike is the perfect coach or has been since arriving in L.A. on crutches. Quite the contrary, actually; it took him nearly the entire campaign to figure out that Howard and Gasol could play together, after determining, slowly but surely, that his big, old Lakers would be better off pounding opponents in the half court over pushing the ball on the break.

(It also took most of the season for Howard and Gasol to heal up to the point that they have, but that's another can of worms entirely.)

But now isn't exactly the best time for the coach to come under fire again, especially from someone with such a direct line into the Lakers locker room. The team's odds of upending the second-seeded Spurs were already slim to begin with. The last thing L.A. needs is another distraction, another means of fueling the feeding frenzy that accompanies this squad's every step.

Furthermore, Bryant is watching from home the same game that the Lakers coaches and active players are studying up close. Chances are, they're seeing what he sees and either are making the necessary adjustments or will do so in time for the next game. They don't need Kobe, playing the part of backseat driver, to point out the obvious potholes in the road ahead and tell the team where and when to turn.

To his credit, Kobe acknowledged the impact of his tweets, though, truth be told, it'd be difficult not to notice, since they were splayed on the screen during the national broadcast:

For now, Bryant claims he will pare down his live tweeting from here on out so as not to distract his teammates from the task at hand:


Thankfully, for the Lakers' sake. Because challenging a healthier San Antonio team is tough enough without Kobe delivering earfuls via the Internet, 140 characters at a time.