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Sportress of Blogitude

Kobe Bryant on advice he’d give LeBron James: ‘Gotta keep pushing’

Kobe Bryant has remained relatively low-key as it relates to the disappointing first year of the LeBron James era in L.A. The Los Angeles Lakers icon, however, recently did open up about the team’s struggles this season while expressing optimism over the future.

Bryant, in an appearance on ESPN’s “Get Up” Wednesday, pointed out how injuries — including one to James that kept the superstar out 18 games — played a huge role in the team missing out on the postseason.

Bryant observed the Lakers were “rolling” when healthy, but injuries “kind of set them back” and “knocked them off-kilter a little bit.” Still, Bryant believes “next year should be better.”

Interestingly, on the same day Bryant’s interview aired on ESPN, one of the network’s more outspoken personalities, Stephen A. Smith, argued on “First Take” that Bryant is blaming James for the Lakers’ struggles, albeit behind the scenes.

“I think he’s holding LeBron accountable,” Smith said. “I think he’s looking at LeBron James and saying, ‘OK, the heat is rising. Excuse me this ain’t Cleveland, 30 minutes from where you grew up. This ain’t Miami. This is Laker Nation. Excuse me, we are about championships with this franchise. You don’t get to get a pass.’ That’s not what he said, but I’m telling you that’s how he feels.”

There has been to no surprise an abundance of criticism over the Lakers falling well short of expectations this season. The case can be made that experts and analysts — except for perhaps one outspoken talking head — expected too much out of a roster consisting of only James, some added veterans and a very young nucleus.

Nevertheless, as Bryant indicated about the team ahead of this season, he still sees nothing but big things out of the LeBron-led Lakers going forward.

“You just gotta keep pushing,” Bryant said of what advice he’d extend to James. “Seasons like this are what make the championships worth it.”