Will Kobe Bryant Set Aside His Ego for New-Look L.A. Lakers Lineup to Work?

Kobe Bryant was born to score. He's made that very clear during a 16-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers in which he's piled up 29,484 points—fifth all time in NBA history, seventh in NBA/ABA history if you include the numbers accrued by Dr. J and Moses Malone with the red-white-and-blue ball.

He'd likely need to play at least another five or six years to catch fellow Laker legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar atop the list, though Kobe wouldn't seem too keen to stick around that long when you hear him tell it.

If Kobe plays his cards right, though, he won't need nearly that much time to equal another legend in another, more historically significant category.

I'm referring, of course, to Michael Jordan—the standard-bearer for swingmen—and his six career NBA championships. The Black Mamba already has five to his credit and may well wind up with a sixth of his own at the end of the 2012-13 season, now that the Lakers have added Dwight Howard and Steve Nash to his "supporting cast."

Interestingly enough, GM Mitch Kupchak's brilliant offseason moves have only intensified the pressure under which Kobe will play during the upcoming campaign. Rightly or wrongly, Kobe will be vilified by the basketball world (and even by some folks in LA) if he "screws this up," if he fails to lead another victory parade down Figueroa St. next spring.

You'll hear all the same tropes before, during and (possibly) after the season about how Kobe's too old, too selfish and too concerned with his own individual accolades to make it work, even with an all-star cast.

There will be memes about Kobe's passing (or supposed lack thereof) and endless debates between Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless over which bloviator can bury him in a more verbose fashion.

Thing is, it isn't just Kobe's ego that may or may not be the main impediment to the Lakers writing a happy ending for themselve...

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