Advice to Kobe: Grow up and keep quiet

first_imgFirst, Kobe threw all of his teammates under the bus, and now apparently he’s grabbed general manager Mitch Kupchak by the collar and tossed him under, too. Jerry Buss, you must be next. The Lakers’ undistinguished play is apparently everyone’s fault but No.24’s. How unbecoming. How childish. How completely shortsighted. If it wasn’t bad enough that three weeks ago after the Lakers’ first-round playoff exit he essentially ripped his teammates, saying the Lakers had to upgrade their talent level to become a title contender, now he is reportedly taking on Kupchak and making silly threats. Here are two free words of advice for Kobe Bryant: Shut up. Got that? Put a lid on it. Zip it so tight all breath must be drawn through your nostrils. Do not separate your lips again unless it’s to throw food down your gullet. Just shut up. Do not utter a single syllable if it’s about to lead to a critique of your teammates, team management, God, country or the price of gas. Next, he will stomp his feet and hold his breath until he turns blue, which at least will prevent him from speaking a while. Because unless ESPN The Magazine’s Ric Bucher has completely gotten it wrong, Kobe needs a serious timeout. Needs a major reality check. Needs to stop acting like a pampered superstar and more like someone committed to his team and contract. Bucher said Sunday during an ESPN broadcast that Kobe told him he wants Jerry West brought back to the Lakers and given full authority, or he wants to be traded. This is preposterous on so many levels, it’s hard to know where to begin. Hey, Kobe, you’re frustrated? So are the Lakers’ fans. So is management, your teammates, the media, Phil Jackson and Lawrence Tanter. When it comes to the Lakers, you have no exclusivity on frustration. It’s shared by everyone who supports, follows or is a part of the organization. But most have the good sense to understand when, where and how to speak out, which clearly you do not. Think the current talent level isn’t good enough to capture another title? OK, swell, that’s hardly an isolated opinion. If you want to share it with management, you’ve earned that right. Only do it in private, alone with Jackson and Kupchak and Buss, not with the media. Team leaders support teammates; they don’t announce through the press they’re not good enough. That, of course, was only a warm-up act to Sunday. Trying to dictate who runs the team is certainly one-upping Magic Johnson forcing out Paul Westhead as coach. Onward and upward. Next it’s commissioner Kobe. No, wait, President Kobe. Hold that, King of the Universe Kobe! It’s hard to move forward when doubled over in laughter. Kobe, mired in a situation he largely created during the Kobe-Shaq pout-fest, wants the roster upgraded or he wants out. Team owner Jerry Buss is about as likely to trade Kobe as give up young women. Kobe is the greatest talent in the NBA. He is Hollywood. He is the spectacular element that almost every other team lacks. Previously pushed into a corner by both Kobe and Shaq, Buss made his understandable choice and went with the younger star. He’s not going to bail now and trade him, even if he could. And really, what are the chances that if he actually wanted to deal Kobe, it could happen? Kobe is going to make more than $40million the next two seasons. There isn’t a single team that could trade away that much contract and offer up anything the Lakers could justify as an improvement. It’s not about simply being willing to spend the money. Not about Buss just reaching into his pocket and buying another superstar. The NBA operates under a salary cap. It’s a soft cap that allows sometimes confusing fudge room when it comes to re-signing your own players, but it’s firm in adding outside talent. Then there is the whole West thing, another nonstarter. Kupchak was West’s No.2 man. He groomed him. They are friends. It’s nearly unfathomable that West — whose contract with the Grizzlies expires July1 — would suddenly return to push aside Kupchak. It should also be remembered that West exited the Lakers for a reason. Whether, as conjectured, the reason was his unhappiness at the increased personnel role of Jim Buss or the organizational power of Jackson while involved with Jeannie Buss, that reason still remains. Buss’ children are fixtures in the organization, and Jim Buss is apparently being groomed for bigger things. It could be argued Kobe’s West demand was not just a slam at Kupchak but also at Jim Buss. Maybe that’s the only way Kobe gets traded, if Jerry Buss takes that personally, but he’s way too smart a businessman to let one Kobe slight derail his organization plan. Kobe knows all this, of course. Understands the salary-cap limitations, the West-Kupchak relationship, West being piqued when last here, the need for a Lakers’ superstar talent to justify their A-list supporters. Yet he popped off anyway. The Lakers had no reaction Sunday. Said it might be addressed during the week. Kobe will be no less frustrated by then, and likely, no wiser. Kobe is an incredible talent who won three championships at a young age. It spoiled him. A marvelous competitor, he hungers for more yet sees the window closing. He’ll be 29 this summer. Kupchak and Lakers management are in a tough spot. The team does need to be improved, but options are severely limited. Lamar Odom and Kwame Brown will be overcoming surgeries. And the team is already near the next projected salary cap. This is not the time for the team superstar to have a snit and make unreasonable demands. It is the time for Kobe to shut up. Steve Dilbeck’s column appears in the Los Angeles Daily News four times a week. He can be reached at [email protected] local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img

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