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Kobe Out: Lakers Fans, WTLC React

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We hear from the experts and fans on Kobe's legacy, along with the effect his departure will have on the Lakers.

The Black Mamba is down.
The Black Mamba is down.
Jeff Gross

If you've been hiding under a rock for the past day or so, then you won't know that Kobe has been declared out for the playoffs, likely not to return until next season with an achilles tendon rupture. Kobe had battled through various injuries to play 48 minutes a game throughout the final contests of the season. It's been determined that the injury might not have anything to do with the extended minutes Kobe got, but that doesn't remove the sour taste in Lakers fans' mouths for Mike D'Antoni.

Nevertheless, it was thought, as of yesterday, that the injury wasn't just a rupture, but a tear, and that Kobe would be out for an entire year. That might have destroyed any hope of the Lakers' 2013-2014 campaign, and Kobe's ever-shortening career span along with it.

Obviously, the effect of Kobe's injury will be huge among Lakers fans who have followed him since the late 90s. The impact will be felt throughout the league as well, with opposing arenas chalk full of Kobe fans and a generation of kids who followed one of the greatest players to ever play the game.

Both of SB Nation's Laker Blogs, Lakers Nation and Silver Screen and Roll, wrote their own reactions to the injury. Their responses were on opposite ends of the spectrum, as you'll see.

"Often times I find myself torn with this job. I grew up watching the Lakers, rooting for the Lakers. Unlike most of the beat reporters I was never assigned this team – I chose them. But over the course of covering the day to day tendencies and activities of a franchise, you become jaded. Numb. Desensitized. I often feel like Alex inA Clockwork Orange, forced to stare at a screen for hours upon end, relaying the same message over and over.

Still, over the past four years I’ve changed. Whether it’s a desire to remain impartial or simply to distance myself from the maw of fans I encounter on a daily basis, what little emotion left in me has seemingly evaporated. Where once there was a passionate, intense desire to stretch, run and bleed with this team, there is now an empty chasm filled with post-game quotes and news articles. And for the most part I’m okay with that. It’s part of the job, and it was something I knew would happen eventually.

But this is different. Completely different. That emotion is back now. That inane desire to remain unbiased drifts away, resurrecting the knowledge that in the end this is still a fan’s site.

And I’m still a fan."

-Daniel Buege, Lakers Nation

"Nothing the Lakers did this season worked. They compiled an All-Star roster of starting talent, only to see every single one of their starters pick up a major injury over the course of the season. They changed coaches and kept right on sucking. Dwight Howard was brought in to inherit the franchise, and I'm still not 100% sure I even want the Lakers to re-sign him.Steve Nash was brought here for pennies on the dollar and, through no fault of his own, may not have been worth the pennies. And just when you thought the season couldn't get any worse, Dr. Buss was taken from us, too. The Los Angeles Lakers are one of the best, most successful, most storied, and most blessed franchises in the history of the NBA. For sixty plus years, they have reigned over the NBA with the kind of luck and good fortune that would be rightfully described as the mandate of heaven. It shouldn't be possible to reverse all that good karma, to even out all the good with equivalent bad luck and misfortune in one season. And yet, if that hasn't been achieved, it has not been for lack of trying. This season was 60 years of accumulated bad luck being paid back in six months.

This is what Kobe sacrificed himself for. Not for a chance at a sixth ring. Not to lead his team into the NBA Finals. Not to get through a small rough patch. He sacrificed himself to get a mediocre team with little chemistry and no identity into a first round playoff date that would likely have ended quickly in failure. Kobe Bryant was willing to do what it takes, to sacrifice everything for his cause, and that's exactly what he did. He made himself the martyr of Lakerdom. Maybe he did it because he thought the Lakers could pull it together for a magical run. Maybe he did it because of his own responsibility in allowing the team to develop so many of the issues that plagued them all season long. Maybe he was killing himself to get the team into the playoffs as a mea culpa for his failure to lead them into a better position early on. Maybe he did it because he couldn't imagine the possible consequences. I don't know, I'm not him.

What I do know is that no basketball cause is worth what happened to Kobe Bryant, and this cause wasn't worth much at all."

-C.A. Clark, Silver Screen and Roll

Be sure to go to the respective sites and read the full articles. But the dichotomy they present is very interesting. C.A. Clark is devastated by the injury, feeling like Kobe sacrificed his body for a failed experiment. Daniel Buege remains more optimistic, hoping that Kobe can return in time for next season and thinking that he won't call it quits so soon.

Other Laker fans used the Kobe injury as an excuse to vent their frustration with the organization in general. From the SSR Comments:

"If Dwight Howard signs an extension this summer, great, he'd better work his *** off for as long as he's here.

However, I honestly don’t care any more if he stays or goes. I was his biggest supporter before he came here, but he lost 95% of my support when he took his ****ing stat sheet around the locker room to show his lack of touches in a game. That **** was juvenile and absolutely uncalled for. After that, I said "**** him. Stay or go, I don’t care."

And as for D’Antoni, I’ve been trying to give him the benefit of the doubt for most of the season, but last night was the straw that broke this camel’s back. Of course Kobe was unwilling to come out of the game, but as the coach, the guy who is paid to make decisions about who plays, when they play and for how long, he needed to step up and tell Kobe it was time to sit. After the first scare, probably. After the second injury, most definitely. In all the years I’ve been watching the Lakers, I have never, EVER, seen Gary Vitti get up and talk to the coach about a player. Vitti was in D’Antoni’s ear last night, and Mike still did nothing. I’m pretty sure Gary wasn’t saying, "Yeah, he’s good to go, leave him in." Gary knows Kobe as well as anyone. He knew it was time for him to come out.

D’Antoni left him in. He failed as a coach, and in some small way, he failed as a human being. He’s lost my support."

"What has defined Kobe is his relentless work ethic and will to win, his drive to push himself to be the best, to push through injuries, to show up to play every night, to care about every ****ing game.

Kobe can be criticized for a number of things – but never his drive and willingness to lay it all on the line. Criticize MDA, or Li’l Buss, or D12, or the basketball gods, whatever.

This injury was simply the result of Kobe being Kobe, fighting for a fucking useless eighth seed on a dysfunctional team that had no chance of making noise in the playoffs. The minute Kobe sits down on the bench and concedes to time, odds, injuries, etc. while there is still a chance of any playoff spot, is the minute Kobe stops being Kobe.

Those last two free throws are exactly what separate Kobe from everyone else. It’s who he is. In the basketball world there is no better cause than fighting for a playoff spot, fighting to stay alive to play one more game. Kobe did that. And it is exactly why he is and has been so special. He was a martyr for the only thing that matters in basketball – winning the next game to keep the hope (however faint) of a championship alive."


Obviously, emotions are running high. But even though their words are succinct, I think someone who's a total non-basketball fan can read the above and appreciate the type of player he was on the court.

The effect this injury will have on the Lakers is fairly obvious. They lose a gigantic scoring force in their lineup, and their short bench will get shorter. Devin Ebanks or Darius Morris will have to grab bench minutes. They have a one game edge on the Jazz, but don't own the tie breaker, and face tough tests with San Antonio and Houston on the horizon.

But even if, conceivably, the Lakers secure the 8th seed, what then? The chances of them beating the Thunder will be slim. It's easy to say that their talent is on par, but the Lakers have never been able to put together good play consistently enough to be worth anything. Plus, the Thunder have excellent interior defense, and the Lakers will be looking for the majority of their points near the hoop. It's almost fair to say that this injury destroys the team, simply because of the unique role that Kobe filled.

As for myself, I really won't be missing Kobe when he leaves, whenever that may be. As a fan of both the Thunder and Warriors, I've suffered at the hands of his team far too many times to find anything endearing in his departure. More than that, I've never admired the man off the court. Though I don't know him personally and can never claim to have a complete picture of the man, everything I've read about him has been overwhelmingly negative. To me, he is a mere caricature of smugness and arrogance, two traits I find to be reprehensible both on and off the court. Though there's no question about his drive, I always felt like his attitude influenced a generation of kids to say that it was okay to walk around as an entitled brat.

Of course, you could counter me by telling me about his charity works, or how people have been positively influenced by his persona. But honestly, anybody of that stature has to give away at least some portion of his money to charity without looking bad. And I'm not denying that he hasn't influenced or truly helped out people positively throughout the world.

But for me, personally, he will always symbolize my id. Unless there's a cataclysmic change in his character, I will always despise him and what he represents. To sum up my feelings, I think it best to close with a famous quote:

"You have enemies? Good, that means you've stood up for something in your life."

What do you think of Kobe's departure? Let us know in the comments!