Kobe Bryant backs LeBron James over ‘distractions’ talk about Lakers
Kobe Bryant has become the latest Los Angeles Lakers legend to back LeBron James over recent comments in which he challenged teammates to overcome “distractions,” arguing the iconic organization demands nothing less.
Inspiring the controversy, James questioned his teammates’ focus following Monday’s brutal loss to the Memphis Grizzlies.
“If you’re still allowing distractions to affect the way you play,” James said, “this is the wrong franchise to be a part of and you should just come in and be like, ‘Listen, I can’t do this.’”
Bryant, a standard-bearer of the Lakers’ longtime organizational excellence, agreed with James’ stance.
“What he’s saying is true. I can’t speak to what the locker room dynamics are, who he could be referring to, I don’t know anything about that,” Bryant told The Undefeated’s Marc J. Spears. “On the surface, you have to be obsessive with the game. And then understanding that, for this organization, the only thing that matters is winning championships. And there’s no in-between, right? … That’s how this market is, man. That’s what the L.A. brand stands for, man.”
As noted, Bryant was not the first Lakers great to back James, as Shaquille O’Neal shared similar sentiments earlier this week.
James’ comments arguably could be interpreted as a means to motivate his teammates as opposed to publicly questioning their resolve. Yet, the “distractions” James spoke of arguably were in part his own creation, as the fallout of the Anthony Davis trade drama — which James at least subtly played a role — were said to have left several Lakers players shaken.
The Lakers did get things back on track — for at least one game — with a big win Wednesday night over the New Orleans Pelicans. James played the role of hero yet again, despite having been involved in a dubiously constructed controversy earlier in the game.
It merits noting that James quickly changed his tune and took on a much more positive tone in the ensuing days following Monday’s comments. Whether James’ stated confidence in the Lakers being able to rise up and snag a postseason berth, though, is another matter entirely.