Jerry West. Magic Johnson. Seemingly every fan on a Lakers message board for the past week. Kobe Bryant has a message for you.
He was asked in a post-practice reporters scrum Wednesday about the criticism the team has had and the rumors of trades to motivate the team, and his response (captured by Lakers.com) was about as honest and direct as it gets.
“Don’t know, don’t care. People that criticize can kiss my a–. I don’t give a s—. I really don’t. I keep the train moving, we’re going to keep on moving, and in June, they’ll say nothing. But now, it’s good talk.”
Kobe may be the only Laker who can tell one guy with a statue in front of Staples Center and another who gets one in two weeks (Magic and West) to kiss his, um, backside. I’d say Kobe is mad at them, but I’ll take him at his word that he really doesn’t care.
He’s right in a sense. The Lakers have been easy targets to criticize of late, but ask the coaches and players on other teams and they still expect the Lakers to put it together. That happens when you’ve got two rings in two years and three straight finals appearances. The Lakers have been there before, they know what it takes to get there, and it’s not even the All-Star break yet.
Still, the Lakers have not looked as good as the other elite teams this season. That is a fact that invites criticism, rings or no.
Thursday the Lakers take on the Spurs in a game those critics see as another big test. It remains to be seen how the Lakers see it.