If Kobe only plays for titles, how could this Lakers team become contenders?

On Lakers Media Day, Kobe Bryant, still in his late-career, filterless swoon, mentioned this to Ramona Shelburne amidst commentary on former coach Mike D’Antoni:

“For me, it’s winning and no in between…it’s championship or a waste of time”

This is nothing new from Kobe. If you’ve heard this once, you’ve heard it dozens of times…like later that day, to ESPN’s Arash Markazi:

“He [Byron Scott] agrees with me and it’s the Lakers organization we’re here for one reason only and that’s to hang championship banners, not division banners or conference banners or anything else. We don’t do that. We focus on winning championships and that’s very important for our young guys to understand.”

Kobe Bryant does not play for anything besides Larry O’Brien trophies. Even insinuating that he’s ever satisfied with less than that would be taken as an insult. He’d probably give you one of his patented “furrowed-brow-flared-nostril-frowny-face” snarls if you said anything like that (amongst his many amazing physical feats, Kobe has the unreal ability to make anyone feel like they’ve asked the most ridiculous question ever with a simple look). Bryant begins every year believing that he can help get his team to the promised land.
 
Coming off a season where the Lakers went 27-55 and the team’s two best players departed via free agency (in Pau Gasol and Jodie Meeks), a championship seems…unlikely, to say the least. Even the most optimistic (read: delusional) fan couldn’t possibly see this squad, as currently constructed, as title contenders. It’d be like asking Jimmy Buss to get an adult haircut–I guess it could happen, but holding out hope is just a waste of your time.
 
This isn’t to say that Kobe truly believes this team is championship material. Until he comes out and says that, let’s not paint the psychotically competitive Black Mamba as a certified psychotic. Well, at least in this sense.
 
However, Bryant has spurred an interesting idea: in the most far-fetched of scenarios, what would have to happen this season for the Lakers to even sniff championship contender status?
 
(Peep the rest at SS&R)

 

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