It’s the SARS of sports stories, a tempest in a media-stirred teapot that will turn out, in the end, to be nothing more than a diversion that kept us all preoccupied during the most boring NBA Finals of all time. (And maybe through the summer baseball doldrums.)
The Los Angeles Lakers are not going to trade Kobe Bryant.
I know this not because of my expert anonymous sources, but rather, because the people who run the Lakers have not completely lost their minds yet.
Kobe to the Bulls for a bunch of good players, or to Washington in a three-way for Gilbert Arenas? Or to the Knicks for Scrubfest 2007?
Would you trade a Ferrari for a BMW, a Nissan Altima, and a Honda Accord? For a Boxster with a sometimes malfunctioning CPU? For an armada of Hyundais?
I understand that this is great fuel for television, sports talk radio, and the Internet, but enough already.
This is Kobe Bryant we’re talking about.
Whatever your criticisms of Kobe might be, he’s the most talented player in the NBA -- not just according to fans, but to coaches, scouts, and the vast majority of players. (He scored 81 points in a single game, remember?) And with the game on the line, he’s as cold-blooded as a Komodo dragon.
On top of all of that, Kobe wants to win more than any other basketball player – perhaps any athlete – on the planet. That isn't hyperbole. What anyone is to Hannibal Lecter, what a roomful of 21 year-old Swedish models are to any married man, what air is to the rest of us, the W column is to No. 24.
If it meant winning another NBA championship next season, you get the feeling that Kobe might make good on Mike Tyson’s threat to eat your children.
He wants it that badly. Really.
Unless you’re getting another superstar – and by superstar, I mean LeBron James or Dwayne Wade, both of whom aren’t going anywhere – you do not trade that guy.
You cannot trade that guy. You make him happy.
Besides, Kobe doesn’t really sound like he wants to be traded, despite his recent outbursts on radio and online. Anyone who listened to him the day that he made his demand heard his tone and sentiments change by day’s end. He sounded frustrated, but never really angry. Angry is when you scream, “Pay me my money!” in Jerry Buss’ face. That has yet to happen.
At the end of the day, Kobe doesn’t want to be king of the gutted Bulls or the Keystone Knicks. He wants to win.
So do the Lakers. This isn't the first time that Dr. Buss has dealt with an angry superstar. In the rosy-colored championship days of yesteryear, Magic and Kareem both demanded trades, and both never went anywhere, either. (True, Shaq got dealt, but only because Los Angeles was between a rock - Kobe - and a hard place - the Big Aristotle.)
The Lakers will make a move or two, get Kobe the name talent he needs to compete, and move on.
As Phil Jackson told the Los Angeles Times on Monday night, “It's my unshakeable feeling that Kobe will be a Laker next October … when training camp opens.”