For those of you blog-addicts that seek X & O breakdowns, keep it moving…this particular post won’t feed your need.
This blog is about Kobe Bryant and the intangible adjustments he has to make without his longtime running mate Derek Fisher. In case you’ve been in a coma recently, Derek Fisher is now a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder (as predicted by BlogNBAsketball).
You may remember the last time that Kobe was separated from his draft-mate (2004-2007)…..it wasn’t a fun time for Mr. Mamba. This time, however, figures to be much more productive with Ramon Sessions at point guard (there’s nobody named Smush or Kwame on this roster).
While Kobe has more help on the court, it’s with the ’other’ stuff that he has some adjusting to do. Bryant’s role in the locker room has changed and, for the Lakers to be the best team they can be, he must adapt.
It was well-documented, and very evident, that Derek Fisher played the “good cop” role all these years while Kobe dished out the ‘tough love’…a la Michael Jordan. While Bryant has said that Pau Gasol will assume much of Derek’s leadership role, Kobe too must change his leadership style. Pau shows enough sensitivity out there, the last thing this team needs is him giving out hugs too. Bryant must pick guys up as much as he challenges them now. I recommend he place a call to Steve Nash in Phoenix, probably the most positive teammate ever.
Kobe’s role with the media too will change. From people I’ve talked to that cover the team, Derek Fisher was the guy they went to most often when they wanted solid quotes. They knew Derek would always be available, cordial, and most importantly honest. When reporters want to take the pulse of the Lakers now, Kobe will have to be that guy. Gasol is too nice, Andrew Bynum is too hot n’ cold, and World Peace is um…too Metta.
On the court, while Bryant now has another weapon to alleviate the pressure, there’s still an adjustment period. With Sessions now starting, the tempo of the game has picked up. In Ramon’s first 100 minutes in the lineup, the Lakers scored 114 points per 100 possessions, a mark that would lead the league by a mile. Bryant was accustomed to Fisher bringing the ball down at a slower pace, allowing himself to take the foot off the gas. Well, now Kobe officially owns the oldest pair of legs in the Laker lineup. As Ramon gets more and more comfortable, Bryant will have less and less opportunities of pace himself.
The playmaking duties too will change somewhat. It took the Lakers over three months to finally get comfortable with the new offense under Mike Brown (and assistant John Kuester). You can’t expect Ramon to know every play inside out this early, it’s just not realistic. Bryant may have to assume some of the playcalling out there the duration of the season. Kobe has been looking for ‘Drew’ and Pau a lot more recently inside, so that should smooth out the playcalling. Inside-inside-out has become the modo for Mike Brown’s crew.
The Lakers had been interested in acquiring Ramon Sessions for years. The reliability of Derek Fisher was the main reason it didn’t happen sooner.
As much as Kobe will miss Derek in the lineup, he’ll miss him even more in the locker room.
The leadership…the professionalism…..the intangibles.