Why Winning Over Kobe Bryant Is Los Angeles Lakers’ Biggest Offseason Victory

Offseason victories come in all forms, and the Los Angeles Lakers, firmly fixed to a finespun rebuild, won theirs by not losing Kobe Bryant.

Viewed pessimistically, the Lakers' offseason can be seen as discouraging. They didn't sign Carmelo Anthony. They didn't sign LeBron James. They didn't spend their way to contention. 

Absorbed optimistically, there's ample reason to applaud it. They didn't invest long-term money in underserving talent. They drafted Julius Randle. They acquired Jeremy Lin, Carlos Boozer and Ed Davis for virtually nothing. They preserved financial flexibility for the Summer of (Kevin) Love. 

Regardless of how the Lakers' offseason activity is looked at—cynically or enthusiastically—there have been victories, some bigger than others. 

None, though, are bigger or more impressive than the Lakers' ability to assuage the still-tough-to-please Kobe Bryant.


A Tale of Two Vastly Different Visions

Winning him over was hardly a foregone conclusion. From the moment he signed his two-year, $48.5 million extension, there existed this sense of tacit discord between player and team.

Finally coming to terms with his own basketball mortality, anything less than contending for a championship during the life of his new deal was inexcusable, more so than normal.

"But I think we need to accelerate it a little bit for selfish reasons, because I want to win and I want to win next season," Bryant told ESPN's Darren Rovell in March during a "Sunday Conversation" segment for SportsCenter (via ESPN Los Angeles' Dave McMenamin). "So, it's kind of getting them going now as opposed to two years from now."

There, on national television, Bryant issued a win-now mandate. That's what he did; that's what this was. He wasn't prepared to slog through another year of mediocrity or devote his final two years to...

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