Cleat Geeks

The Lakeshow Weekly: A legacy etched in stone

Another week, another four losses for our Lakers and I smile seeing all four of those losses. It is hard to do when winning is what we, as Laker fans, are more accustomed to.

June 25, 2015; New York, NY, USA; NBA draft prospects pose for a group photo before the 2015 NBA Draft at the Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: William Perlman/NJ Advance Media for via USA TODAY Sports

June 25, 2015; New York, NY, USA; NBA draft prospects pose for a group photo before the 2015 NBA Draft at the Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: William Perlman/NJ Advance Media for via USA TODAY Sports

At the beginning of the season there was some debate as to what this year was about. Obviously everybody was expecting Kobe to retire so the focus would be on Kobe and his farewell tour. But now that its established Kobe is retiring, the most important part of this season should be and will continue to be losing and player development. The Warriors did not end up the way they are now by chance. Through draft picks, that team has succeeded to put together one of the most fun teams to watch in this era. For today’s day and age they are hard to stop. From 2009- 2015 they have had 9 draft picks. Of those 9 draft picks 6 of them are still on the Warriors. Having played together since at least 2012, Draymond, Steph, Harrison, Klay and Festus have now hit their stride and it’s plain to see. Kevon Looney is the only other player of those six who doesn’t play much due to the simple fact he is a rookie. This team was put together from the ground up and is showing why the traditional draft pick approach is the best. So I’m all for losing as much as we can in order to preserve our draft pick.

Some have made mention to the fact that because its Kobe last year; the goal should be to win another championship for Kobe. I don’t understand this thought process. Let me give you an example from another sport. Prior to this year’s super bowl between the Carolina Panthers and the Denver Broncos the legacy of Peyton Manning was already set in stone. Peyton was one of the greatest to ever play the game. He’s a high IQ football player that could manipulate the defense to move where he wanted it to be, in order for the play to succeed. Despite his greatness there was this hump he struggled to get over his entire career: the playoffs.ManningBryant

Colin Cowherd of Fox Sports made the point this year by saying it didn’t matter, win or lose, Peyton was always going to have the same legacy: a great QB who just didn’t have the clutch gene. I think the same applies to Kobe and the goals for this year. Kobe has already won 5 championships what is another going to do, besides the obvious of tying Jordan? It doesn’t do much. Put it this way, if Kobe did win this year and tie Jordan, does the argument of Kobe versus Jordan stop or become any easier? Do the pundits begin calling Kobe the best player of all time? None of that happens. Kobe’s legacy is set as one of the top 5 players in the history of the NBA. It doesn’t matter what ESPN says (I’m not sure what ESPN was thinking putting Lebron #3 because he lived up to the hype?), regardless Kobe’s legacy is what it is. That wouldn’t have changed with a championship one way or another.

demarcus_cousins_by_roundpuff-d35lzvkThe one thing that would have changed is the future of the Lakers franchise. The one trade everyone was eyeing before the draft was a trade that would have sent Clarkson and Randle and the then 2nd pick in the draft to the Kings in exchange for Demarcus Cousins. Looking back I hope we can see how awful that would’ve been. Cousins is a great basketball player but to give up our future for Cousins would have been so disappointing. The best decision was to do exactly what the Lakers did which was to hold onto it, all of it.

So play tribute videos for Kobe at the games, march him out in style to fanfare and compliments, let him shoot anywhere past half court. Let him be a part of the All-Star game one more time. I’m fine with all of it, but don’t mortgage your future for a legacy that is already set. The Lakers need losses, and lots of them. Every team needs somewhere to start reconstruction and our time for rebuilding is now. Not this season or next season or even the season after that, but one day we will look back on those trade rumors and be glad we didn’t trade everything to win in Kobe’s last year. As it stands now, it isn’t bad to be both celebrating the career of Kobe and rebuilding at the same time.

In the coming years the Lakers will be back on top of the mountain but they need to continue to work towards building through the draft. His legacy will never change he is the Black Mamba. His killer instinct matched only by Jordan. But this year was not the year to “win one more for Kobe” it was the year to rebuild.  Either way there will always be those who can’t stand the sight of Kobe because he represents winning. But as a wise woman once told me, “haters gonna hate, hate, hate”.

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