Could Kobe Bryant’s Ego Handle Being Anything Other Than Lakers No. 1 Option?

Kobe Bryant has lived in the proverbial sports spotlight since coming directly into the NBA from high school in 1996. While he deferred to veteran players his first year or two in the league, it wasn’t long before Bryant considered himself the Lakers' No. 1 option.

The big question now looming is, how will this aging yet still incredibly productive superstar handle it all when he no longer is the first choice in the Lakers offense?

In order to answer that, we need to look at the 15-year career of Bryant and how his bigger-than-life ego played into his role as the game’s best closer and one of its best all-around players in history.

Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal tried sharing the stage in Los Angeles from 1996-2004. Everyone knows how that played out.

Always the hardest-working player in the gym, Kobe nonetheless alienated the veteran O’Neal with his swagger and confidence that seemed to suggest the young kid was the future of the team, not the Big Diesel.

Despite the fact that Shaq and Kobe seemed to genuinely dislike each other, they managed to lead the Lakers to three consecutive world championships from 2000 to 2002. Bryant’s ego was firmly established, although there was a time when the two found mutual respect for each other on the court, and that turned Los Angeles into a powerhouse.

Bryant’s famous alley-oop pass to Shaq in Game 7 of the Portland series in 2000 illustrated just how much Kobe had stuffed his ego in his back pocket in order to win. 

Phil Jackson commented at the time to Phil Taylor of, "Kobe didn't have a selfish agenda; he just felt that the way he had been playing was the best way he could contribute." It marked a turning point, and the Lakers went on to win their first of three straight titles.

Although that one play happened more than 10 years ago, it signaled an often overlooked facet of Bry...

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