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Westsider Rider

Friday, November 25, 2005

Was Kobe the right choice?

I had this article saved on my links last week but it was lost amid all the excitement of The Game and now since Michigan football is off until the bowl game I'll have more time now for basketball and hockey. But this deals with my other favorite squad the Los Angeles Lakers. When Dr. Buss made the choice of Kobe over Shaq, a lot of people said it was a stupid move. As much as I loved Shaq when he was here I definitely do not feel that way now and I am on the same page as Phil Taylor who says the Lakers probably made the right choice as well.

First I'll go into why I used to love Shaq and now I could care less about his fat ass. I have people ask me, how can you feel that way about him, he brought you 3 championships. Yes that is true and I definitely appreciate what he did for the Lakers during his time here but there are a lot of things that made me turn sour on him. First was his constant showing up to training camp out of shape and overweight. Shaq would consistently show up in bad shape and spend the first quarter of the season getting back into shape. I knew that he wanted the big extension and as soon as he received it he would go back to being the lazy ass that he is. See last year he worked out, lost weight and was in great shape, this year he gets the extension and now he is out of shape again. Another reason was the way he badmouthed Los Angeles after he left, it's one thing to have his feud with Kobe, I understand that, but to talk shit on the city that loved him and appreciated him so much was bullshit. Shaq is a big baby and all he wants is all the attention on him, him, him. It happened with Penny in Orlando, with Kobe in LA and pretty soon it will happen in Miami with D Wade.

A major reason why I agreed with trading the most dominant force in the league at the time was because he still had large value and we could get something in return and not have to break the bank for his future extension. Miami is on the hook now for Shaq's $100 million extension and they are going to wish they didn't have to pay it in a year or two, hell it could be this year if he doesn't come back and play as well as he is used to playing. He is getting up there in age and for big men that is huge, the majority of big men their playing time/stats decrease dramatically after they turn 30. Shaq is now starting the twilight of his career and will not be the same force he used to be.

Kobe is the much better move long term both on and off the court for the Lakers. He is still relatively young at 27 and he still fills the seats and sells the jerseys for the Lake Show. Sure he's not as popular as he was across the country but in LA most people still love him. The Lakers had to make the move for the good of the franchise's future and I completely agree with it. As Taylor writes:

One aspect of the Kobe-over-Shaq decision that Lakers owner Jerry Buss made was the financial demand that O'Neal was making. It wasn't all about personalities. Shaq was asking for a megabucks extension, and Buss was right to hesitate given the cracks in Shaq's armor that were beginning to show. O'Neal went to Miami and made the Lakers look bad in the short term by leading the Heat to the conference finals, but soon, very soon, the Lakers' investment in Kobe might look like a much wiser move.

I couldn't have said it any better myself. The Heat only have a small window with Shaq to try to win that title, especially considering the other veteran talent they brought on board this year, while the Lakers window is much bigger for the future, assuming Bynum and Brown develop into what the Lakers believe they can. The other thing is due to moving Shaq the financial flexibility is there to bring in a FA or two in the next few years and can help add pieces to the puzzle for the Lakers. Phil Jackson did not come back to just coach a loser, he knows this team can win and he is out to win that 10th championship that eludes him so he can stick it to Red Auerbach. I know I believe in the Lakers and there are some others out there that do as well. All I can say is the title that the Lakers win with Kobe leading the team will be the sweetest one because no one thinks we can do this but I know we can.


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