Kobe Bryant: Black Mamba Not a Factor in Lakers Win Against OKC Thunder

Beyond all of the commercials; including Call of Duty: Black Ops and the new commercial for theTurkish Airlines where a Turkish airline chef and Bryant switch career roles, Kobe Bryant still has to answer to the general public when it comes to comments about his aging talent and lessening role in the success of the Los Angeles Lakers.

He shrugs off the talk as criticism; he has refused to allow people to throw salt on his many accomplishments in the league.

However, Sunday afternoon against the Oklahoma City Thunder, proved why the Los Angeles Lakers are in dire need of their big men if they want to survive against the NBA's most elite. Kobe scored only seven points in the first half of the game, while Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol were both in the double figures. Bryant also had the worst shooting average of the game, going only eight-of-22, only slightly ahead of the terrible night Durant had at the rim.

Phil Jackson has come forth many times about Bryant's need to "hog" the ball in dire situations, but it seems like that solution is becoming less and less effective. The Lakers are getting outplayed by the younger and more athletic teams, and even though they pulled off a win in this instance, you have to sit back and think how the end result may have shifted if this were a series.

If Jeff Green were still an active part of the Thunder team, this game would have been sealed by halftime.

How much longer are fans and analysts alike, going to just rely on Kobe's peak in his defense? He is, and will always be considered one of the league's greatest of all time, but his teammates and Lakers' fans must realize that his best days may be behind him.

It is time for the rest of the team to assume their roles, and not rely on Kobe's dwindling clutch gene to save them.

Pau Gasol's transformation from White Swan to Black Swan may not be the talk of the town, but his and Bynum's aggression is much needed ...

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