LA Lakers Paid Immeasurable Price for Kobe Bryant’s Farewell Tour

The Los Angeles Lakers closed out their 2015-16 season Wednesday night with perhaps the defining performance of Kobe Bryant’s career. The most celebrated, imposing and driven player in franchise history dumped a bucket of cherries on his 20-year career with a 60-point, 50-shot fireworks display to take down the Utah Jazz.

Hours before that unforgettable performance, Bryant’s head coach, Byron Scott, stood on the sideline at the Lakers practice facility, fully enveloped by a super-sized swarm of recorders, microphones, lights and cameras. 

A question was posed about this season’s theme: What would Scott take away from the worst year in franchise history, an embarrassing rash of 65 losses, a potentially crippling social media scandal involving the team’s most valuable asset and some of the most consistently bad basketball in the entire league?

A sheepish smirk scrambled across Scott’s face. The season from hell was finally in the rearview mirror. A year filled with hardship was about to end, and Bryant, the symbol of those tough times (in recent years) was about to walk off the court for the very last time.

Player development, growth and progress were cast aside to accommodate the 37-year-old's final run. There are no basketball reasons for this choice; only business reasons—and it will likely cost the Lakers dearly in the years ahead.

“I think at the end of the day, once he decided to retire, I think all our focus started to change toward making sure that this could be as enjoyable as possible for him,” Scott said.

Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak repeated the sentiment back in January, per the Los Angeles Times:

This is a year that's dedicated to Kobe and his farewell. From my point of view, it gives me complete clarity. ... We know what our [salary] cap situation is going to be like.

The words a...

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