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NBA AM: As Kobe Bryant Fades, Frustration Builds

As the star power fades from a once dominant Kobe Bryant, frustration builds in Los Angeles.

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Kobe Bryant Admits Frustration Starting to Boil Over

The Los Angeles Lakers have missed the playoffs the past two seasons and, at 2-12, appear to be on a similar trajectory for a third consecutive campaign. There are myriad problems plaguing the Lakers. The team is young and lacks a consistent identity. Also, the team’s best player, Kobe Bryant, continues to lose his battle versus Father Time. All of this has put the Lakers on pace to post the worst record in franchise history.

On Thursday, the Lakers lost to the defending champion Golden State Warriors by a whopping 34 points. Bryant was a paltry 1-of-14 from the field, finishing with four points in 25 minutes of action.

After the contest, Bryant admitted his frustration about the current situation.

“I’m not really worried about it, honestly,” Bryant said, according to Baxter Holmes of ESPN. “My shooting will be better. I could’ve scored 80 tonight. It wouldn’t have made a damn difference. We just have bigger problems. I could be out there averaging 35 points a game. We’d be what, 3-11? We’ve got to figure out how to play systematically in a position that’s going to keep us in ballgames.

“In all honesty, it was tough. The shots that I take, pull-up shots and jumpers and contested jumpers, those are tough shots to hit at 27 [years old]. It’s very tough to hit at 37. I’ve got to do a better job of demanding some help off the ball, get some easier chances – pin-downs, picks, catch-and-shoots, things of that nature. Tonight was just very frustrating. It kind of got the better of me.”

Bryant leads the Lakers in scoring (15.2 points per game) while ranking second in minutes per game (30.5). However, Bryant is shooting a team-worst 31 percent from the field in the 11 games he’s played this season.

“Frustration kind of got to me,” Bryant said. “The fact that – the way I played, the way I shot, blowing coverages defensively, coming down offensively and not having concept of what we’re trying to do. It just kind of got to me a little bit and frustrated me, and it affected my shot.

“I feel OK. Just pissed. Just frustrated with what we’re doing. It bothered me. So I got out of my Zen.”

Relief doesn’t appear to be anywhere on the horizon for the struggling franchise. Nine of the team’s next 10 games are on the road.

Needlessly Criticizing Greatness

In this era, some players are glorified more than ever for stringing together a few seasons of quality work. But on the other end of the spectrum, some players are held to the highest standard imaginable and whatever they do is never deemed good enough.

Four-time MVP LeBron James could stop playing today and be a lock for the Hall of Fame – first ballot. However, as good as James has been, he can’t escape the shadow of past greats such as Michael Jordan.

James believes more time should be spent appreciating great players as opposed to constantly comparing every aspect of their respective careers.

“I think what we get caught up in, in our league too much is trying to compare greats to greats instead of just accepting and acknowledging and saying, ‘Wow, these are just great players,” James said, according to Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com. “I think in the NFL when you talk about great quarterbacks, they don’t really compare great quarterbacks. They say, ‘Oh, Joe Montana is great.’ You know, ‘Tom Brady is great. Aaron Rodgers is great. Steve Young is great.’ [Terry] Bradshaw, all those great quarterbacks they never compare them as much, but when it comes to our sport we’re so eager to say, ‘Who is better, Oscar [Robertson] or [Michael] Jordan?’ or, ‘Jordan or LeBron or Kobe [Bryant] or these guys?’ instead of just accepting greatness.”

Lang Greene is a senior NBA writer for Basketball Insiders and has covered the NBA for the last 10 seasons

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