I have heard from sources what has been reported by beat writers and others around the Lakers: There is a real pessimism around the team that Kobe Bryant’s shoulder injury will require surgery that ends his season.
That’s another season ending early due to injury, three in a row — it’s got to be a blow to Kobe.
Which is why he and the Lakers are likely to take the weekend before making any kind of formal decision and announcement, something first reported by Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.
Then it was confirmed by Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times, with more details about more meetings with specialists.
The team has since confirmed that until the meeting with Neal ElAttrache no decision will be made on Kobe’s future.
Still, that decision likely will be to shut it down for the season and get surgery, but that’s the kind of decision you should take your time with.
If/when he does shut it down the first question will be “is this it for Kobe? Will he retire?” I seriously doubt it. Throw an obstacle in Kobe’s way and his first reaction is to show you how he can overcome it — his nature is to fight back from this. Besides that, I can think of 25 million other reasons Kobe will play one more season.
But for the Lakers organization, this should be the time to turn the page — they can no longer try to be so Kobe-centric. That has to start on the court, they need to stop running the offense through him — the man injured his arm the other night, only came out able to play left handed and the other Laker players still deferred to him. He was still the fulcrum of the offense. That’s not good. With Kobe gone they will star to diversify.
From there, the Lakers front office needs to end any thoughts of “who will play next to Kobe” and focus on “who is next.” The plan was always to have someone — originally Dwight Howard, but now someone else — play with Kobe then take over the mantel for him.
Now, the Lakers need to just look past Kobe, whether or not he plays next season. Give him a warm send-off — he has earned it as one of the, if not THE, greatest Laker of all time. But as an organization this is a chance to move on. They need to take it.