Save your tears for the Black Mamba. And the Los Angeles Lakers.
Sure. The Lakers offense will have a 30-40 point hole every night that they’ll have to fill from now on.
Sure. His injury came at a dramatic moment: as if he just wanted to make sure that the team would get to the playoffs. After buying them the last tickets to the playoff plane, barring a total meltdown by Dwight et al. he was no longer allowed by Destiny to move on.
Sure. He was, is and will be the heart and soul and head and sinew of the Lakers franchise. And when your leader goes down like that, you’d want to retreat and mourn.
Tragic as this may be, let’s not forget:
Steve Nash is a back-to-back MVP. He was the lifeblood of the Phoenix 7-second offense. He and D’Antoni engineered how Phoenix rose from the ashes.
Dwight Howard has been the Defensive Player of the Year. He single-handedly brought the Magic to the Finals (yes, they were swept, but the point is he got them there).
Pau Gasol is a world-caliber center. He is an NBA champion. He was the first Gasol that became the centerpiece of the Grizz frontcourt.
Ron Artest. Steve Blake. Guys, we’re not talking about some crack team here. This team is still built to kill.
And now, for the first time in a long time in the Kobe Era, the Lakers are coming in as underdogs. As many underdogs and their fans know, that kind of mentality gives you an extra push. The chip on your shoulder, and nothing-to-lose attitude, will make you keep swinging violently in the hopes of landing the KO punch. If they do face the Thunder in the first round (and it looks like they will), the Thunder will lose the sympathy of the world they once had.
Will they beat the Thunder? I really don’t know. But I do know that in addition to the new underdog-will-bite-your-asses mentality is the enemy’s uncertainty of where the points will come from.
That’s what makes teams like Denver so dangerous. You never know who will explode, when and where, and how big the damage is going to be.
With Kobe out, the defenses will be tested.
This is of course, assuming, that the rest of the Lakers have finally figured out how to play as a team.
With Kobe bailing them out of dangerous endgames, and practically giving them all a piggyback to finish lines, they just flung their prayers onto him. Now, there’s a chance that they can be a more cohesive unit playing through a system. There’s a chance to make the entire team believe that they can come through – as a team. And of course, I’m looking at Nash to be the conduit through which the electricity of the offense can course through.
If they learn to play together, there’ll be tears of a different kind at the end of their playoff run.