Byron Scott Hire Puts Major Pressure on Kobe Bryant to Thrive Next Season

Once the Los Angeles Lakers hired Byron Scott, Kobe Bryant's self-made and pundit-produced burdens became that much heavier.

Pressure is unavoidable for the Black Mamba because of who he is and what's expected of him. But he's entering a stage of his career that shouldn't be defined by excess baggage and standards by which superstars much younger than himself are measured. 

Almost 20 years into his renowned NBA tenure and pushing 36, now should be a time for Bryant to defer, to complement, to help escort the Lakers into a new era that doesn't orbit around him. Aging superstars aren't typically cornerstones and must be judged accordingly. 

Expectations are adjusted to reflect diminished roles and depreciating abilities. Life isn't spent under the gun; it's spent assisting those who are.

It's different for Bryant. It's always been different. The criteria for evaluating him is unlike most others, courtesy of his crazy, oft-irrational competitive drive that rejects conventional wisdom and shows disdain for traditional thought. 

And yet somehow, someway, the already towering bar to which he is held rises still, soaring relentlessly in the wake of Scott's arrival, dwelling among the clouds, creating pressure fit for someone 10 years Bryant's junior.


Previous Pressure

Certain aspects of the weight Bryant is bearing could not be avoided.

The Lakers handed him a two-year, $48.5 million contract extension before he returned from a ruptured Achilles, displaying unrivaled faith and loyalty in their fading lifeline. Bryant rewarded their allegiance with six appearances. That's it.

Another injury ended his season, ruining his return and delaying his chance to silence deafening critics. After a year like that—one marked by tragedy and expanded wealth—there is no escaping the sense of missed opportunity.


About the Author