Is Kobe's Legacy on the Line Today?"What Happens if the Lakers Lose" their series against the Rockets. In the article, Adande points out that while players like Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom are important to the actual performance of the Lakers, it is Kobe Bryant that has the most to lose in a historical sense if the Lakers bow out. He makes the case that Kobe is trying to compete with Michael Jordan in the history books, and that if the Lakers lose today not only will Kobe fall further behind Jordan but that he will also lose ground to LeBron James, the man that is currently chasing both of them.
I am tempted to take it further: if the Lakers lose to the Rockets, Kobe opens himself up to history changing the entire way that he is remembered. As I've pointed out before, Kobe's game resembles Jordan (his "style"), but thus far in his career his results (his "substance") are more comparable to Scottie Pippen.
Bryant was declared almost by fiat to be the best player in the world a couple of years ago, but a good chunk of the current argument in favor of him is that he is set up to win several titles over the next few years with this current Lakers team. To essentially prove that he can do it as the best player on his team, without Shaquille O'Neal. But if, after getting beat up by the Celtics in last year's Final, the Lakers then lose in the second round to a Rockets team missing BOTH of their best players...wouldn't that scenario sound eerily similar to what happened to Dirk Nowitzki's Mavericks in 2006 and 07, and as I pointed out last week Nowitzki still doesn't have his swagger back.
Let me be clear. I fully expect the Lakers to beat the Rockets by 20 points on Sunday, and I expect Bryant to lead the way with a big game. Thus, I expect this post to be moot before the day is out. But if, crazily, the Rockets find a way to win this series...wow. If that happened, this blog would be the first of many interesting conversations that we might have about just how we see Mr. Kobe Bean Bryant and his place in history.