It would seem sacrilegious to think that any player could hold more sway over Los Angeles Lakers’ roster decisions than Kobe Bryant. However, it seems Bryant had nothing near the power Lebron James currently holds in LA.
The Lakers have had rosters worth of all-time greats put on the yellow and gold and helped the franchise earn NBA title trophies. In the modern era, no player more epitomizes LA basketball than Bryant. The NBA great was a part of two separate dynasties that aided the franchise in earning five of their 17 championships.
Bryant’s influence was so strong as the organization’s chosen face of the franchise, that he was key in having them ship off fellow team legend Shaquille O’Neal so that he could become the lead star of the team. If you can force an eventual Hall-of-Famer out with prime years left, you have to have some serious stroke.
Lebron James holds more sway in LA than even peak Kobe Bryant
However, it seems the “Black Mamba’s” influence now pails in comparison to current Lakers superstar James. Although he has only helped to get Los Angeles one championship so far, his fingerprints of impact were all over that team, and the current mess playing out now at the Staples Center.
- Lebron James’ stats (2021-2022): 29.1 PPG, 7.9 REB, 6.5 AST, 35.3 3PT %
The 27-31 Lakers are ninth in the Western Conference and former league MVP Russell Westbrook — a player James pushed to add — has been the face of the team’s disappointing play this season. The good and the bad are the evidence of what The Athletic’s NBA reporter Bill Oram claims is the massive clout James has in LA.
“But for as important as Bryant was to the Lakers, sources inside the organization have long said that not even the legendary ‘Black Mamba’ wielded as much power within the organization as James now has,” Oram said in his Wednesday editorial.
“Bryant was never able to strong-arm the Lakers to make a move like the one James helped orchestrate for Westbrook, which has proven to be an outright disaster. The Lakers did trade Shaquille O’Neal to placate Kobe before he hit free agency in 2004, but when he was under contract like James is now they did not always give in to his demands.”
The Lakers return from the NBA all-star break to face the Los Angeles Clippers on the NBA Games Today schedule Friday.