Laker super star Kobe Bryant went out in spectacular fashion Wednesday night, channeling his former dominance and pouring in 60 points in his final game to lead the Lakers to a comeback victory over the Utah Jazz.
So, the season-long Kobe good-bye tour ended happily.
But the bigger picture is not so bright for the Lakers. The team won just 17 games this year. It was the third straight season that the Lakers registered an all-time low for wins.
And Bryant – for all his greatness – was a big part of the problem.
The Kobe show clearly detracted from the development of the team’s young players. D’Aangelo Russell, Julius Randall and Jordan Clarkson are going to be called on to rescue the Lakers from the doldrums. They showed flashed of talent this year, but not a lot of cohesion on the court.
Meanwhile, Los Angeles – once the most prized destination in the NBA – no longer holds quite the same appeal.
“When Shaquille O’Neal signed with the Lakers in 1996, you kind of had to be in L.A. if you wanted to have a career in Hollywood, or dabble in Hollywood like Shaq did. That’s no longer the case,” says Matt “Money” Smith, co-host of the “Petros and Money Show” on 570 LA Sports. “Lebron (James) is kind of the guy that changed all that by doing it in Cleveland and proving that you could be the No. 1 ranked endorser in the NBA, and make the most money, while doing it in a city in central Ohio.”
We spoke to Matt “Money” Smith about what it’s going to take to turn around the Lakers in the posy-Kobe era: