Magic: Kobe Must Lead Gasol, Bynum

HANG TIME TEXAS, Y’ALL – Let’s see, the Lakers had Pau Gasol packed up and traded to Houston two weeks ago and are likely still trying to find a way to punch Andrew Bynum’s ticket to Orlando.

So, all that’s required to make the purple-and-gold NBA champions again is for Gasol and Bynum to swallow their pride and any insecurity to have their best seasons ever.

That’s the winning prescription from the legend and noted stick-poker Magic Johnson as the Lakers prepare to host Derrick Rose and the Bulls for the Christmas Day season opener. And it’s Kobe Bryant who has to feed them the medicine, according to Dave McMenamin of ESPNLosAngeles.com:

“What Kobe has to do now is really look to get Gasol and Bynum going and then pick and choose when he should dominate,” Johnson said Tuesday on a conference call with reporters. “Because he’s going to need help, especially more this season than any other season, for them to be really one of the best teams and win a championship…

“Those two guys got to have banner years — Gasol and Bynum — because Kobe can’t carry the load,” Johnson said, noting Bryant was entering his 16th season. “You can’t expect him to be carrying the load night-in and night-out. They’re going to look to those two big men to control the paint, give Kobe a break.”

And what happens if Gasol and Bynum don’t step up?

“If they don’t dominate, it’s going to be a long season not only for the Lakers but Lakers fans as well,” Johnson said.

Of course, Gasol and Bynum are both accustomed to being the lightning rods for criticism any time that something goes wrong with the Lakers. Gasol, coming off a particularly tepid performance in the playoffs last spring, is hearing all of the questions about his softness resurrected again and Bynum continues to search for a way to stay healthy and live up to that potential.

But Magic says that Bryant will also have to change his ways and take on a new role this season.

“I think he’s going to have to be more of an emotional leader,” Johnson said. “Not just a game-time leader in terms of scoring points and playing defense, but he’s going to have to be a locker-room leader. He’s going to have to really pick guys up and probably do something he’s never done before, and that’s really in practice, get these guys going. In the locker room, get these guys going.

“Because the one guy that did that is now gone, and that’s Lamar Odom. Lamar was valuable both on the court and off the court. You’re going to miss him in the practice and in the locker room, on the airplane and on the busses. Who is going to replace him being that leader? I think that the way I see it, it has to be Kobe.”

Bryant disagreed.

“That’s big shoes to fill. L.O. was such a goofball. I’m not that personality,” said Bryant after practice Tuesday. “That’s just not in my DNA. (I’m the) class a–hole.”

So what’s the verdict? Can so many leopards change all those spots?

60 Comments

  1. dymatize says:

    Bring Jerry West back as GM… Mitch get out !

  2. Carl says:

    Here’s what I think should happen. If Andrew plays well, Kobe is Kobe, and some bench players step up (Devin Ebanks, Josh McRoberts) the Lakers will be fine.

  3. Kane says:

    Reality is: No Championship!! You should be thankful it’s a short season! Because it will all be over with very soon!!

    The Lakers are now officially the Spurs and Boston!! Old, Washed Up, and Finished!! And it will be this way for years to come!! There is a new era in the NBA!! And it doesn’t include the Lakers!!

    The Lakers have fallen so far behind Dallas, OKC, New York, Miami, and now the Clippers!!

    Mr Stern…. Mission accomplished SIR!!! Great Work SIR!!!! lol hahahaha

  4. Kobeef says:

    and they definitely need Odom back.

  5. Kobeef says:

    We all know basketball is a team game. Thats why they got each others back. they all did their part, but Kobe’s just the leader and topped them all thats why is named the MVP twice. without each player they wouldn’t won at all, It’s just that one is better than the other.

  6. Hunter says:

    Kobe is a fierce competitor and of course ranks as the top 5 players of all time but if he were to be stripped of a luxurious surrounding he has been in he would be another burnt out selfish former allstar player chasing a one last opportunity for a ring

  7. Hunter says:

    Yes it takes a great owner, coach, player and cast of good players but nonetheless he is a terrible leader and is one jealous dude of others success. He drove SHAQ away and i think he drove Lamar Odom away,Phil Jackson was almost driven away, Pau should leave too and I couldn’t put up with that overbearing personality on a nightly basis

  8. Hunter says:

    Without Phil JAckson his whole career and the Buss family throwing money to surround him the reality is is that with out those, he would just be a burnt out TMAC

  9. Mark says:

    I have a good feeling about Darius Morris this season

  10. AngelGod says:

    if Kobe isnt there, Lakers would suck hard, period

    • NBEATZ says:

      So your saying that without Kobe, this team would be bad with gasol no being the primary weapon putting in 22PPG 11RPG and 2BPG, byunm would get more offensive oppertunities and through in 15PPG 10RPG and 1.5BPG, the money that would not be used on kobe would bring in a good PG and good shooting gaurd and, I think Kapono starting at the three would be a great fit, throughing down into Bynum or gasol and being able to through it out to Kapono for the open three. He would get two or more a game and average 12PPG 5RPG, solid numbers for a 4th or 5th option, go out and get a defensive minded 2 that can hit the 3 like, Jarred Jack, a combo gaurd, Kyle korver, someone like this. Then go out and spend most of the most from not have kobe there and get a really good PG like Rondo when he hits the open market, Mo williams may take an oppertunity to want to start on a winning team again, Some of the new young gaurds are’nt going to stay with theres teams could be a great idea, Irving?, Knight?, any other projected good NBA gaurd. there bench is NOT that bad, have WMP come in and play great defence and only expect MAYBE 4PPG and 4RPG and a SPG in 20-25 minutes a game, MC BOB come in and give fresh legs to Bynum or Gasol, someone who can play 20 Minutes PG and average 8PPG 4RPG, Murphy can still play around 15 minuted a night at either the 4 or 5 and put in a three, strech the floor and is servicable to give resting time to the starting 4 or 5. keep Fisher for the leadership to the young gaurd whoever that may be and play aroung 15-20 minutes a night through up a 3 or two and play solid whil on the floor, trade Barns and Walton for a servicable three like a Mike Miller or shane batiier ‘like player’, some one who can play on and off the ball, some one who can play the 2 or the three and some one who can shoot from mid ranch and from the three. A team that is built like this could win 50-60 games a year, they could have 2- three allstars for 2-6 years to come and if they played together, there may be a ring in the future after Kobes demise. this team is build to be at the top or near it for years to come. I AM NOT A LAKERS FAN, BUT COME ON, A TEAM LIKE THIS IS BETTER THEN 24 OF THE 30 TEAMS IN THE NBA, stop complaining and remember Gasol with his own team, a great player, bynum geting to accually be a centerpiece to a team, and others that can step up, have we not learned anything about a team does’nt always need a super-super star to win, the 2004 Detroit Pistins?????????????????????????????????? GO HEAT

  11. watdahellllllllllll says:

    @cord,.. no, thers only one way that the laker will make it to the finals and become champions again.. its when having more points than your opponents.. thats simple.. no need of offnce and D breakdown.. :D hahah LOL

  12. Lakersince75 says:

    If they don’t get another scoring guard and figure out how to make the 3 spot a very impactful position, we’re in trouble. Who else besides Kobe can create their own shot off the dribble? Who else shoots a 18 foot jumper and you feel it’s going in more times than not. Who can stay in front of Dwayne Wade and Derrick Rose. Fish and Blake?? I’m still trying to figure out why they let Trey Johnson go, especially when you didn’t get Chris Paul. I think everyone has figured out that we are slow, even when LO was here. In my opinion there was way too many inpactful athletes that were available for us to sit around believing that Troy Murphy, McRoberts, Luke Walton and Matt Barnes are the answer. I pray that Ebanks is the sleeper of the decade

  13. HAMER says:

    ahmm Kobe won an MVP in 2008 FYI.. Let’s Just say LA is In A Building Process Right now when the time comes they will be on top again just like those memorable year for them..

  14. Defense, Rebounding & The 3 Pointer says:

    I actually think the Lakers got a little bit better. One of the important parts of most NBA Championship teams is the 3 point threat. The Phil Jackson coached Bulls always had the top 3 point shooter on their team (Paxon, Armstrong & Kerr), however the Phil Jackson coached Laker teams never had that option. If Jason Kapono & Troy Murphy can be consistent with the hustle & athleticism of McRoberts, this team could win a Championship against team. Defense, Rebounding and the 3 Point Threat will be key to winning another Championship. However, adding a disruptive point guard like Chris Paul and a dominating center like Dwight Howard would make things a lot easier!
    Lastly, Bynum & Gasol must have ALL-Star years because with teams stacking talent like Miami, New York, Clippers, Boston and Dallas, the Lakers will not easily win a championship like the did in years past.

    • Andy says:

      i agree on you, now its not a P.Jackson game play. 3pointers like Kapono Murphy FIsher will be a good help…

  15. pasadena says:

    All I got to say is Clipper Time Baby! Trade the purple and gold for the red, white and blue! Griffin + Jordan + cp3 + billups + caron…. It’s over… New King of LA!

  16. tapk69 says:

    ive been an nba fan for the last 12 years and ive never saw so many packed teams like now …
    I used to love the lakers , but when oneall left ive started to watch the nba as a whole, not as a lakers fan.
    Knicks , miami , dallas , OKC , bulls and the clippers have a real chance to be champions and i cannot see other teams go past this 6 this year .
    Lakers , Celtics , Spurs , Orlando are worse than last year , and i only see the lakers having a chance IF they trade for howard , but their window for a title is in Kobe bryant … Thats why they gave up on oneall and stayed with bryant , no one can replace him (ok! wade/durant probably could) ! Kobe bryant is the best NBA player of the last 10 years , not duncan or oneall .

  17. nikko says:

    Remember when kobe wanted out of the Lakers? He literary said he wants another ring and the team he had before gasol had came in wasnt strong enough even if kobe puts up most points in the board!! putting up points is a star players best! thats why they call them star players!! u don’t see a star player called a star for not putting up points!! anyways once gasol came in wat happend they won a ring, then MetaWorld Peace came in and they won another ring…if ur saying kobe does all the work its not true cuz if he did then the lakers would of won more rings without gasol and bynum…A Laker Fan knows his stuff!! and as for right now basically the whole team is new having a new coach can be big change…once the lakers get use to the new rhythm of the coach and each player gets use to eachother then yeah i think they will be a decent team! byt question is how long will it take for that to happen?? i guess the games can only tell you that right!!

  18. Maybe if the Cavs win a title, the Lakers will be allowed to try to win again! SMH
    Go Bucks! and Pacers!!!

  19. Metta World Peace son! says:

    There is only one solution to the Lakers struggles, and that is the one and only, METTA WORLD PEACE. Enough said. Lmao.

  20. James says:

    The verdict is that the Lakers aren’t going to win a championship any time soon. Too many players on the bench that need to improve to become a real professional basketball player. Most never got the opportunity to play in a big stage like in the NBA playoffs. The Lakers need more experienced players to come from the bench and be ready to play. There is a lot of them out there. They have got to do a better job at scouting. I can’t believe that the Miami Heat’s bench is deeper than the ’09-’10 champions Lakers. Trading Odom was not a little oopsy that was a big OOOOPPPPSSSS.

    In other matters, Bynum is taking too long to improve. Don’t get me wrong, he did have some improvement last season. In my opinion, he needs to take a more serious, “mean, nasty” role in the offense. I can still see some insecurity about him with his game. But I think this is his last season to show that he is a solid center in this league.

    Speaking of insecurities, it appears as though Luke Walton doesn’t know what he should do when he gets the ball. Talking about a player that needs much improvement. I’m surprised he is still there.

    Gasol looked way too tired by the end of the season. Other players are recovering from injuries. I think this lockout helped the Lakers in many ways. There is no doubt they will make the playoffs as long as Kobe stays healthy. Talking about a championship run? My head is in the clouds…

  21. Cato says:

    I am sorry to disagree with Mr. Magic Johnson. Even if Gasol and Bynum steep up big, even if Gasol (one of the best 4 in the league), and Bynum are traded for Howard (a very good, but limited player). The Lakers don’t stand a chance to win the championship. Kobe still can lead, score, and somewhat defend at a high label, but the Lakers need at least 5 decent starters players (which they don’t have right now) , and they are also going to need big help from players coming from the bench to have a chance of a decent season (which I don’t see right now).

    • kobethebasketballmessiah says:

      Kobe is still within his prime, he just have to use his tools wisely. Pau and Bynum are good tools he can muster. they have potent offense in mike brown’s playbook. KOBE IS JUST 33 NOT 50, you guys talk about him like his.

    • David says:

      What “label” are you talking about?

  22. Lakers#1 says:

    I have a really bad feeling going into this season! We had one preseason game and already Kobe is injured and can’t play! Apparently he has got a torn lunotriquetral ligament.

    This season will probably come down to Miami & Chicago and Dallas & OKC.

  23. laker fan 4 life says:

    Why is Fisher still there? Mr. President should get shipped. He is too slow to keep up with the likes of Cp3, d rose or even rondo.
    Why is Ron Artest still there? He looked lost in the sauce against the clips
    Why is Luke Walton still there? Why is he even in the league even.
    Package those 3 guys for Howard, have bynum and gasol split their time.

  24. Charles Murray says:

    Change can be slow, and history will show that if they didn’t perform last year, why would LA’s bigs perform this year. If they were on a trend toward improvement, that’s one thing; they are getting on a bit with injuries. I would not be suprised if Kobe’s overgrown ego is hurt this year. The Clippers will be so fun, and Denver will suprise with their youth, speed and taking off from their 18-7 last year without Carmelo.

  25. Joshua says:

    I think lakers need to get a pg and center, but more pg than the center this point. They need to get quicker, fast guards and after centers eat them up all the time. I don’t think they are old just need to pick up the pace a little, using there height with more quickness would give a lot of team more problems. Dallas, is going to be a problem for them, and thunder as well.

  26. LAKERS4LIFE UKNOWIT says:

    In my mind Bynum can beat Dwight if Bynum is healthy and not mentally distracted

  27. Cord says:

    These are going to be the 3 steps in how the lakers win the chapinship is 1. Andrew stays healthy the whole season 2. Defense and Offense steps up 3. They need a Breakout Players this year (Devin Ebanks) just saying

  28. wesley says:

    I think magic needs to shut the hell up he is not playing anymore kobes the star the superstar he will choose when and when not to dominate the game

  29. NotSikWitIT says:

    @SikWitIT

    You obviously don’t know Lakers basketball.. or basketball in general.

  30. Lakers24 says:

    Magic Johnson is correct. Kobe Bryant is the best player on that team. Order of skill: 1. K. Bryant 2. A. Bynum 3. P. Gasol 4. D. Fisher 5. M. World Peace

    • luisma says:

      Bynum better than Gasol
      ja ja ja ja ja ja ja ja jajajajajajajjajajajajjajaja
      if Gasol was american you didn`t think so.

  31. If kobe left the lakers right now says:

    Artest and Matt barnes can’t even make wide open threes!

    Without Odom and Shannon Brown, there is no more fast break/easy points.

  32. If kobe left the lakers right now says:

    They wouldn’t make the playoffs!

    Good luck with Fisher who can’t guard pgs, and Luke Walton, come on why is he still on the team? Maybe the Celtics can use him…oh yea Andrew Bynum with the knees….he always gets a spring vacation. Gasol the disappearing act in the playoffs …he should get traded to the orlando MAGIC…get it…

    Without kobe right now this team is a disaster waiting to happen unless they get superman.
    It would be like kobe and shaq but dwight has more respect for kobe. Even though shaq in his prime would beat dwight.

    • L.A. Soldier says:

      I agree with you. Right now, I don’t see the Lakers beating the Heat or Dallas if the finals were today; and I’m a Laker fan. I’m not sure if they can make it to the finals….I could be wrong of course. The Lakers HAVE TO get Howard just to be a viable finals contender.

      You see; with the trade of Lamar Odom, the Lakers CLEARLY got weaker off the bench. They’ve taken two steps back in my opinion. As for the Clippers, they have taken 3 or 4 steps forward in my opinion. It is DEFINATELY going to be an exciting season in Los Angeles for a couple years to come. I’ll be diligently watching……

      • Darius Banks says:

        Walton is excellent in practice and an emotional leader/ coach in training. He might not be a starter, but his intrinsic skills are helpful for the organization.

      • john says:

        just when did you become an expert mr. l.a soldier. just asking and no you are not a laker fan but a laker hater.

      • SHOWTIME FOR LIFE says:

        The Lakers are clearly a playoff team, any NBA fan and someone with knowledge of basketball can say that. The Lakers still are a great team, if Kobe, Gasol and Bynum play thier part there is no team in the league that can stop the two big men in the post if they play lights out this season. I see Bynum coming into his OWN this season and Gasol being Gasol and playing like a true Champion. If we improve at the PG position and bring Fisher off the bench as a backup, we are championship contenders. Fisher can still play and contribute in key moments of the game and he’s the vocal leader on this team. Chauncey Billups and adding Vince Carter would have been the perfect signings, which I dont understand why the Lakers did not go for.

        As for now, Kobe need to be Kobe and get Gasol and Bynum emotionally and physically involved in being Champions. AND Mitch Kuptchuck needs to do his job and be a GM and bring in some solid players off the bench and a new starting point guard.

  33. johnny says:

    Yea I think that copy has to take on the role of leadership because everyone will be looking at him if the Lakers fall short in the playoffs or not even make it to the playoffs. So he has to be the dominate one on and off the court. I have been a laker fan for almost 30 years so I have seen it all so anything less than a finals appearance in L.A is a losing season!!1

  34. SikWitIT says:

    “Those two guys have got to have banner years”, umm didn’t LA just win two championships with the help of Bynum and Gasol? Kobe hasn’t been carrying this team. The team itself was well put together and everyone did their part. These sports writers don’t know WTF they are talking about.

    • Megan says:

      so kobe wasnt the finals mvp both years? you obviously dont know what ur talking about, sure they did their part but kobe did about 80% of the work on offense and defense

      • GPerform says:

        I agree with Megan, they were role players in those two championship wins and Kobe was the backbone. Bynum has alot of maturing and growing up to do because the way he behaves on the court is utterly ridiculous. Gasol is a great player but he just needs to step up and play at a higher caliber. I’m in no way a Lakers fan but it’ll be very unfamiliar if they get swept in the playoffs again. Its going to be an interesting season.

      • Gman says:

        SikWitIT is right, unfortunately he didnt carry them in the way he should, the two 7 footers and L.O helped carry them as well. Regarding the MVP, I think Kobe can suck hard and still get the MVP. After a certain time amount of time there is a respect level in the game where if Lakers win it all, you…. cant..NOT..give it to Kobe… right? These days its hard to carry a team by yourself.

      • nbeatz says:

        So Gasol didn’t put up 20PPG and 11 RPG with 2BPG, bynum didn’t put in 12PPG 9RPG and 1.5BPG?????????? ON ANY CHAMPIONSHIP TEAM THERE IS ALWAYS A LEADER AND THAT WAS KOBY, BUT THEY HELPED????, so you dont know what ur talking about!!!!

      • Alexzo says:

        HOLLYWOOD! That summarizes the lakers situation. There’s always something happening in LA.

        In a perfect “hollyWORLD”, kobe will bounce back from yet another “mess” (divorce) in his life with a BANG (shooting the lights out with guns blazin’) He’s bored & He needs these adversities to get his competitive juices flowing.

        Magic said it best about him stepping up. My 2 cents is that Kobe needs to “be Like Mike” this season. This is what separates him from MJ… The ability to LEAD! So much has been said about his comparisson to MJ but ot gets down tothis season. In my book, MJ is still Alphadog 1. But i do not take anything against Kobe. He is indeed the “CLOSEST” we’ll ever see to “his airness”.

        This season will tell us a lot about “HOW CLOSE” he really is to bein like mike. For LA to survive this season, (the so called experts have written them off) The mamba should take it from the master & be JORANESQUE! …in every true sense of the word!

    • Darius Banks says:

      dude, kobe carries the team. gasol has been consistent and bynum is bynum, but kobe is the leader hands down.

      • SikWitIT says:

        Derrick Rose, Lebron James, Steve Nash, Dirk N. those are people who have been on sub-par squads and took them further than expected without another star player. That is what it means to carry a team. Carrying a team does not mean you score the most points. Kobe is and will be the leader for LA, there is no question about that, but for someone to say he carried LA in the past two-three finals implies that he had little help and we all know he had plenty.

    • Yohhsteve says:

      Kobe carried them in the playoffs he only did bad in a few games but still helped a lot

    • SikWitIT says:

      Just so you people know, I’m not bashing Bryant. He has been doing what he needs to for them to win. Obviously they have 2 championships in the past few years but when someone makes a comment like “Kobe is carrying this team” it sounds dumb. Really how can a person be carrying a team when he has had more help than Rose, Nash, James, DirK or when they were selected for MVP? Which is the point. Kobe hasn’t won a MVP title outside the finals because he’s never carried a team BY HIMSELF past the 1st round. He’s a great player and is a legend, I can admit to all those things but he hasn’t carried a team, and when he had to 2004-2007, they never made it past the 1st round. All the other guys did so pffft to all you who say otherwise.

      • Greg says:

        Get your facts right. Kobe has one MVP outside the Finals and Allstar.

        And don’t get me started on Nash, Rose, and Dirk. Nash had Amare, Barbosa, Diow, and Marion. Not a bad supporting cast. Dirk had Terry, Stackhouse, Dampier, Devin Harris, and Josh Howard. Rose has Boozer, Luol, Noah, Korver, and the rest. Don’t tell me they didn’t have to carry…

      • SikWitIT says:

        Yeah my bad I did forget that he won it that year. Sue me! But Look at the guys you are comparing to the squad KB had. I mean really Dampier? Amarie as a rookie? C’mon you’re gonna compare those guys to the Laker 2008 lineup? Even Rose had a sub-par cast IMO, Boozer is the only semi-star and the rest of guys are very lackluster. But whatever.

      • 24MVPKOBE says:

        Oh, let me guess.

        So when Lebrick James gets put with not one but two all-stars, one of them being an out and out superstar in Wade, and still can’t get the job done last year, what’s the excuse?

        Only one guess…”the team hasn’t had time to ‘gel’ together”.

        Crap, when you have players of that calibre on the one team you should not be losing a 7-game series

      • SikWitIT says:

        @24MVPKOBE, I wasn’t even talking about James being on the Heat. Really I hate when people go off subject to prove a point. Yeah they should have won. I can admit James choked but my argument for him and other carrying a team stands the same. When people say Kobe carried the Lakers it really makes no sense to me cause it was a talented team.