LET THE KOBE CIRCUS BEGIN - None of us knows how the Lakers and Kobe Bryant will resolve their issues. However, what we do know is that the solution won't come easily, and that we will all be worn out, before it does.
Peyton Manning had an eerily similar situation with the Indianapolis Colts. He was a major star with the team, and a hero in Indianapolis. However, he was also 36 years old; he was trying to rehabilitate himself from a serious neck injury. There was a real possibility that he would never be able to play football again.
The Colts organization had an opportunity to draft Andrew Lock, who many think will be the next Peyton Manning. However, it was financially impossible, or at least improbable, for them to have both players. If they re-signed Manning instead of Luck, and if he was unable to play, they would likely set their franchise back for at least five years. At the same time, they did feel a sense of loyalty and respect for Manning. To his credit and maturity, Manning understood the situation. He did not want to leave the team, but he did understand that they had to make a decision that was best for the future of the organization. He had done a lot for the Colts, but he had also been paid very well to do it.
So, while this issue was being resolved, Manning maintained a good relationship with the Colts, and that still exists today. When they decided not to offer him a new contract; he thanked them for all that they had done for him through the years, and he wished them well.
He visited a few teams, and then he selected the Denver Broncos as his destination. He was making progress with his rehabilitation and with this strategic approach to the game of football. Now he is back, and he is playing better than ever. The Colts are happy with their decision to select Luck. In this scenario, everyone won.
Unfortunately, Bryant, the Lakers and their Fans will not be so fortunate. Bryant's future, or lack of it, will be the compelling story of the day for the next several months. The questions will be endless. Can he play? Will he play? Will the Lakers sign him? Will they offer him $30 million per year? Will he accept less? What will Kobe have to say? What will Jeannie and Jim Buss have to say, and how often will they say it? The Radio and Television Reporters will analyze the progress, or lack of it, every hour of every day, for the foreseeable future.
Of course, Magic and Shaq will weigh in with their thoughts and advice. We can also expect to hear from Bryant, who will inform us that he is considering other opportunities, which include playing basketball in either China or Europe, or both. He is also likely to criticize the Lakers organization for not being loyal to him, although they have been paying him $30 million a year for his services.
It will be painful and it will not be pretty, but somehow the situation will be resolved. Right now, many local fans don't think that they can live without Bryant. But most of them don't realize is, how fickle they are. Right now, they worship Bryant. However, if he does return to the Lakers and is unable to play as well as he did in the past, they will quickly turn on him like a pack of angry wolves. In addition, there are always new stars waiting on the sports assembly-line. For the next few years they will bask in the glow of the adulation of sports fans. Then, they will also be taken away by Father Time, or they will be traded to another city. Watching sporting events is most enjoyable. But in the final analysis at any level, it is a business. In some extreme cases, it is a Circus!
KEN NORTON, SR. - We bid farewell to Ken Norton, Sr. He was the Heavyweight Boxing Champion of the World. He was one of the few boxers who managed to defeat Mohammed Ali. He was a nice man, and an ordinary one, except when he was actually boxing. I had the pleasure of meeting him a few times, since we belonged to the same Gym. He never fully recovered from a serious automobile accident, several years ago. He lived to be 70 years old.
SHAQ – Congratulations to the Big Man! He is now a Minority Owner of the Sacramento Kings. While I do not approve of some of his antics, I do admire him for continuing his education and for his efforts to improve himself.