One of my favorite aspects of mainstream sports media is their ability to never pick a side and stick with it. The best example of this: the many opinions of Kobe Bryant. Kobe's one of these guys that never seems to get on the good side of the people that cover his sport. When Kobe was tearing up the league last year, having one of the greatest offensive seasons in NBA history and leading a terrible Lakers team to the playoffs, the only thing everyone could say is he shoots too much. When Kobe changed his strategy to get his teammates involved during the playoffs, everyone initially praised it. That is, until his teammates failed to show up in the final game of their series against the Suns. Then it was "Kobe threw the game in order to make a point". But if Kobe's teammates would have shown up in that game and the Lakers would have won, everyone would have continued to praise the team player Kobe had become. This is the no win situation Kobe Bryant has found himself in since the departure of Shaquille O'neal.
At the start of this season, Kobe once again received praise for becoming a "facilitator" and getting his teammates involved. The Lakers started the season on a high note looking like they would finish amongst the top four teams in the stacked western conference. Kobe's unselfishness seemed to propel players such as Luke Walton and Kwame Brown into career years. This all started to change once Lamar Odom, Luke Walton, and Kwame Brown began to fall to injury. Bryant continued to try and facilitate the game, but with all the injuries the players he had left to play with weren't holding their own. Vlad-Rad was a playing like a "space cadet", Smush was faltering on defense, and playing unsoundly on offense, and Bynum, Farmar, and Turiaf began playing like the inexperienced players that they are.
So which one is it? Make up your mind here. Do you want Kobe the facilitator or do you want Kobe the cold blooded, snarling, gunner? Because it seems whichever route Kobe chooses, someone is gonna be unhappy with it. In the end I think Kobe's patience in setting the table for his teammates this year will payoff, but I also think he needs to do a better job of recognizing when his teammates do or don't have it going. Yeah, try to facilitate early, but if your team finds itself in a hole, don't be afraid to take over the game and rip out your opponent's heart. It's what Bryant would do when he was a member of the Lakers championship teams, and it is what he should do now as a member of this up and coming team.