Thursday, March 24, 2016

Kobe Should Coach the Lakers (At Least, for a Season)

As the 2015-2016 regular season draws nearer to its close, Kobe Bryant is nearly at the end of his farewell tour.  But as I savor his last moments as an NBA player, I also can’t help but to muse on what his post-NBA player life will be like.

In some interviews, he has provided a glimpse of his plans after retirement.  He has said that, with now enough time in his hands, he wants to try stuff he has never done before, like skiing, surfing, and skydiving.  He has also declared he wants to focus on his company, Kobe Inc., and one of his projects is, by means of Kobe Studios, to tell others’ stories through movies, books, and other media.

Those are interesting pursuits.  But there are many who like it more for Kobe to take a non-player job in the NBA.  I personally prefer that he be an analyst, since I believe he has the intelligence and eloquence to be an interesting one.  But, for some years now, fans have spoken the sentiment that Kobe should give coaching a shot once he retires, since, even as a player, he has been observed many times to seemingly have an aptitude for coaching.  And considering the present situation of the Lakers now, this scenario is looking very preferable.

Thus, I propose that the Lakers replace Byron Scott with Kobe Bryant as head coach.  At least, for the 2016-2017 season.
He really looks good in a suit by the sidelines.
This young Laker team – with D’Angelo Russell, Jordan Clarkson, and Julius Randle at the core – has promise but is relatively inexperienced.  It’s in desperate need of stable leadership, focus on development, and valuable mentoring.   And if this season is any indication, Byron Scott doesn’t provide those things.  The way he coached the young players, especially Russell, perplexed me a lot.  Up until now, nobody understands his inconsistent, dumb explanations for limiting DLo’s minutes – hence, limiting his on-court experience and development.

In fact, based on some interviews, it seems Kobe has been more help in instructing, motivating, and advising the youngsters.  I feel they have relied more on Kobe for their development as players than on Scott.  In one game against the Timberwolves, Kobe had to tell Scott to “let them go” so that the young Laker players could see playing time.  Though the Lakers lost, the young players shone.

Kobe has been basically doing Scott’s job for him, so why not officially give it to him?

Sure Kobe has the tendency to be a despot.  Even he himself admitted to this, declaring that he didn’t think he’ll be an effective coach due to this.  As a coach, he’ll likely push his players to their breaking points – demanding that they focus and work with the same intensity and obsession as he has.  And few players are keen of accepting such kind of tough mentoring (case in point: Dwight Howard).  But, again, these young players respect Kobe and will likely welcome it.   Besides, it’s only for a season.  I’m sure they can handle Kobe’s “boot camp sergeant” brand of coaching for one season.  And I sincerely believe a season of it will substantially benefit their improvement as individual players and as a team.
Don’t mistake that I’m asserting that Kobe as head coach will immediately bring the Lakers back as title contenders.  He probably has high basketball IQ, but that doesn’t translate he’ll immediately be a masterful coach.  But what I mean is that a season of him coaching can help bring this young Lakers team to a much more improved direction.   Clarkson, Russell, Randle, and – if the Lakers get the first or second pick in the draft – Simmons/Ingram will infinitely profit more from Kobe mentoring them as head coach than Scott in that role.

As for Kobe, he’ll never really know if he enjoys coaching or if he’s any good at it if he doesn’t give it a try.  Who knows, maybe he’ll discover he’s as awesome in coaching as playing, and decide to stick to it for a long time.  He might not have been able to surpass Michael Jordan in championships won as a player, as his goal was, but he might get to beat him in one area: lead a team into a championship as head coach.

Thus, give it a shot for a season, Coach Kobe!

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