A Case for Kobe Bryant as the Los Angeles Lakers’ Sixth Man

An odd thing happened at the Rose Garden in Portland, Oregon last night. The Lakers beat the Blazers for the first time in the Rose City in nearly five years. Stranger yet, LA did it in convincing fashion...without superstar Kobe Bryant in the lineup (okay, in fairness, Brandon Roy sat for Portland as well—point made.)

Anyone who watched the game or highlights, witnessed a fired up Lakers team; the key word being team. LA played team ball for the first time in many games. Nearly everyone participating in the win. Even Bryant, by being absent.

As Kobe nursed a bad ankle and mangled digit, Ron Artest and Lamar Odom came to life. Both filled the void with inspiring play, the Candy Man grabbing 22 rebounds and Ron Ron scoring 21 points on 9 of 12 shooting (75 percent from the floor; not bad).

Against a lesser opponent in a more Laker-friendly venue, the victory wouldn't generate a second thought. In Portland, against the usually feisty Blazers and a very loud LA-hater dominated crowd, it's thought provoking. So much so, that it forced my mind to wander into unthinkable territory the morning after.

This is hard to get out, and it feels like committing heresy, but here goes. How about bringing Kobe off of the bench on given nights? No, I've never seen a crack pipe let alone used one. I've been getting plenty of rest, take vitamins, and have had a cup of coffee this morning. I'm a picture of health.

Just allow your imagination to take over for a minute. If Kobe came off the bench, what would it do for LA? Does it piss the Mamba off, and make him even better? Does it overwhelm opponents' second units? Most importantly, does it force the likes of Shannon Brown and Lamar Odom to step up rather than step aside for Bryant? Strange chemistry indeed! Maybe Kobe even heals a bit in the process.

It's an off-the-beaten-path thought, and I'm sure Bryant's super ego would never tolerate the idea.


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