Who Are The Lakers Without Kobe Bryant?

For the past 17 years Kobe Bryant has been a Laker.  We have seen him get injured before, but never as severely as this injury.  Especially at this point in his career and at his "advanced" age.  I have heard speculation of his impending retirement from multiple media sources, but come on people.  Kobe is not going to end his career with an injury.  For 17 years he has reminded us that every once in a blue moon a player can come along and show a desire to win unlike any other.  Luckily, we didn't have to wait a long time between the last two, Kobe is the second coming of Michael Jordan.

I have been a Laker fan for my whole life and I remember when the Lakers traded for Kobe Bryant.  I knew nothing about him at the time and apparently Jerry West was some kind of wizard, predicting that Kobe could turn into what he has become.  I remember the 3-peat with Shaq, the bad years, the Smush Parker/Kwame Brown experiment, the 81 point game, the 12 3-pointers in one game, etc.  Kobe has a list of accomplishments as long as anyone in NBA history.  So what is left to come back to?

The Lakers still have a chance to make the playoffs this season.  They need to win their last two games against good teams (Houston and San Antonio).  If they can somehow make the playoff, do they have any shot against the top team in the West?  I would say no, but then again I have seen a team with Dwight Howard and a lot less talent make it an NBA Finals.  Dwight has a chance to prove that he is fully recovered and still capable of taking over games on both sides of the ball.  If he can do that, we may still have a shot to win a series.

Steve Nash needs to come back and play like himself circa 2006/2007.  Pau Gasol needs to keep his play right where it has been the last couple games.  Antawn Jamison needs to hit at least 50% from the 3-point line.  Jodie Meeks needs to score at least 20 points a game.  Earl Clark needs to regain some mid-season form.  Steve Blake needs to step up big time.   He is going to be asked to do more than he has been asked in his entire career.  Let's face it though.  This Laker team is not going to have a chance to beat the #1 seed out West.  Everything would have to be perfect for the Lakers to even take the series to 6 games.

So where does that leave us?  I can't decide what the Lakers goal this off-season will be.  Do we want to re-sign Howard or should we try to find a better fit for Kobe's Lakers?  Is Kobe going to play at all next season?  Are there any free-agent shooting guards to start building around when Kobe is done?  Should we try to find some talent in the draft for once?  Are any of these questions on anybody else's mind?  I feel like I am rambling at times and feeding thoughts to a large audience that exists out of my own mind.  I know that the 1000 questions I have for the Lakers are more than likely to go unanswered.

The achilles injury that Kobe suffered on Friday is said to have him out for 6-9 months.  Given Kobe's age let's assume that is closer to the 9 month mark.  But, let's also remember this is Kobe and he wants to win more titles, meaning that he will try to be back as soon as possible.  We have seen the Mamba's tweets and Facebook rant about what this injury means to him.  I think once he is able to start working out again we will see just how long this injury will keep him down.  I say that he is out for the next 7 months.  That means he should be ready around November.  That is very near the beginning of the season.  The real question isn't if or when Kobe will be back it's what will the Lakers look like when he does come back?  And will the actions of the Lakers off-season affect when Kobe decides to come back?  Here's hoping for a speedy recovery for one Kobe Bean Bryant.

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