The Los Angeles Lakers are officially out of play-in contention, and their season from hell has ultimately come to an end. To say it has been a disappointing season is an understatement, and Lakers fans are visibly upset.
After all, they are accustomed to their team winning and being in the elite, but the "super team" of LeBron, AD, and Russ has shown zero heart or promise to at least squeeze into the postseason. Something unimaginable when Kobe Bryant was still in the Purple & Gold.
2013 vs. 2022
We have heard a couple of times this season about the comparison between the current Lakers squad and the failed super-team from 2013 with Kobe, Dwight, Pau, and Nash. Obviously, both teams heavily relied on their veteran stars, but the lousy fit and lack of youth and depth proved to be detrimental.
However, one key difference is that the 2013 iteration of Lakers at least didn't completely burn out, in huge thanks to Kobe Bryant.
Even though they were expected to storm the NBA, the team struggled to find a working system, changing coaches and battling constant injuries and chemistry problems. By the end of the season, they would be in a tight race with the Jazz and the Rockets to even make the playoffs.
But then a 34-year old Kobe Bryant and his Mamba Mentality would kick in and close the season with an amazing stretch of games and wins.
"In 2013 with 8 Games left, Lakers trailed the Jazz for the 8th seed. Kobe played 47.37 minutes & left the Kings arena on crutches battling an ankle sprain and bone spurs. Bryant averaged 45 minutes in the next 6 games, winning 5/6 and tearing his achilles but securing the Lakers a playoff spot."
Baxter Holmes, ESPN
Kobe was leaving it all on the court to at least get the Lakers into the playoffs when he could have easily given up and rested for next season, especially considering all the injuries bugging him. It was amazing to see Kobe, at this age, having that kind of fire in his eyes and motivation to accomplish something despite being vastly under their original goal.
Unfortunately, in the process, Kobe would tear his Achilles with two games to go in the season, but he still managed to secure them a playoff spot by that time. The Lakers would end 7th in the standings with a 45-37 record and get swept in the first round by the Spurs. Still, although the overall season was a disappointment, that end of the season run by Kobe at least brought some positivity to the table.
LeBron is no Kobe
On the other hand, looking at the Lakers of 2022, you can't say anything good. They looked horrible with or without their stars, showing no effort or responsibility for their failures. Westbrook has struggled, Davis has sat out most of the season, and LeBron has focused on getting his individual accomplishments rather than trying to will the team at least into the play-in tournament.
It's embarrassing, to say the least, and just one of many reasons Lakers and NBA fans, in general, will never have the same kind of respect for LeBron as they have for Kobe. LeBron had decided to give up and sit out because of the minor knee and ankle injuries when Kobe wanted to play on one leg.
Two great players, but two completely different mentalities. Mamba Forever!