Los Angeles Lakers Getting Early Glimpse of Ugly Life After Kobe Bryant

With Kobe Bryant’s latest injury, the Los Angeles Lakers are getting a closer look at life beyond their longtime star. So far, it’s looking pretty ugly.

Bryant, 36, suffered a torn rotator cuff Jan. 21 during a game against the New Orleans Pelicans. He’ll have surgery Wednesday, and he will miss the remainder of the season, as relayed by Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski.

There have been plenty of other chances to imagine life without Bryant. He played just six games last season as the Lakers fell to 27-55, their worst loss record in franchise history.

This season, Bryant’s comeback lasted 35 games. Of those, 27 were played in a row. Over the next 16 games, Kobe was eight on, eight off as he periodically rested due to the wear and tear on his body.

During that time, the Lakers roster has gone through a series of lineup changes, with new coach Byron Scott searching for ways to find something, anything, that can get his team back on track.

Adding to the strange dynamic this season has been speculation that the team might be better without its five-time champion. After the Lakers won their first game without Bryant—over West-leading Golden State Warriors on Dec. 23—ESPN Los Angeles' Baxter Holmes observed:

But underlying the Lakers’ biggest win of the season was the notion that has been floating around for a while, one heavily supported by advanced statistics. So far this season, the numbers indicate that the Lakers have performed better when Bryant is off the court versus when he is on it.

Scott wasn’t buying the theory, per Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times: “Anybody that really insinuated that we're better without him, it's ridiculous. We're a much better team when he's on the basketball floor. Period.”

To punctuate that point, the Lakers have lost nine out of 10 games played with...

About the Author