If Kobe Bryant had his way, the Lakers won’t roll out the red carpet for any of those players.
Kobe, via ESPN:
“You know, the thing about this franchise is that you shouldn’t need recruiting to come in it,” Bryant said. “It takes a special person to want to play for this franchise, and take the pressure that comes along with playing for this franchise. The pressure of following Magic [Johnson]’s footsteps, myself and the dynasty that we’ve had, it takes a special person to do that.
“And if I need to convince you come here, to carry that legacy forward, then you ain’t the one to be it.”
The Lakers’ prestige and popularity matter and largely speak for themselves. But that alone doesn’t make Los Angeles desirable enough for most top players.
Players want to know how they fit on the court on a winning team. The Lakers neglected to explain that properly to LaMarcus Aldridge, submarining their attempts to sign him in 2015. That the Lakers have stunk for five straight years only makes it more imperative they sell free agents on their vision. There’s a difference between historic winning and winning now, and the Lakers can’t just point to their recent success. They must explain how they’ll thrive again.
I suspect Lakers president Magic Johnson will. He’s a big personality and should be an excellent recruiter.
For Kobe, this is more about legacy protection. The Lakers struck out on numerous major free agents while he played, and some blamed him. But if the problem was those players not having the right mindset, Kobe couldn’t be at fault, right?