Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers Finally on Verge of Finding Balanced Formula

Midway through a season more about soul-searching than substance, the Los Angeles Lakers and Kobe Bryant have stumbled upon a formula that works, both now and in the long run.


More pointedly, selfless balance.

Most of 2014-15 has been about Bryant's march toward history—his pursuit and surpassing of Michael Jordan on the NBA's all-time scoring list, his unprecedented, self-shouldered workload, his defiant disregard for time and age and reality.

Bryant became a welcomed distraction for some, career-worst shooting percentages be damned. The Lakers aren't contending for a playoff spot and have only a scant chance of retaining their first-round draft pick. Their most recent first-round prospect, Julius Randle, is done for the season. Steve Nash won't log a minute in 2014-15, either.

Watching Bryant rail against circumstance, simultaneously trying to drum up his stat lines and shoot the Lakers to victory on his own, at 36 years old, was in many ways a respite from dismal times. But it was also a sign of the times, and a reminder that Bryant is now incapable of carrying a collective on his own.

Both the offense and defense were worlds better in the 354 minutes Bryant spent on the bench through the Lakers' first 27 games, according to NBA.com (subscription required). In the end, then, they would be working an ebbing Bryant tooth and nail without any silver linings to admire.

If anything of value was to be gleaned from this season, if it was to be about more than absolute futility, something would need to change. While Bryant sat out for three games, it became clear that something was him.

The Lakers were only 1-2 in his absence, but they played freely, moving the ball in volume, resembling an actual team. It was a different brand of basketball, and one that allowed others to forge an identity outside Bryant.


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