Kobe's wish may be L.A.'s demise

Monday, June 21, 2004

I'm glad I was wrong about the Lakers.

I could say it won't be the last time, but from the way things look it probably is the last time I'll be wrong about them.

Phil is out. Karl is out. Shaq is leaving.

Then there's Kobe Bryant, who opted out of his contract with the Lakers on Friday to become an unrestricted free agent, but of the big three -- Phil, Shaq and Kobe -- Kobe is the most likely to return to the Lakers.

Bryant wants his own team. Who better than the Lakers? He doesn't want to leave Los Angeles if he doesn't have to. Heck, he's even contemplated going to the Clippers. The Clippers? The Clippers are so sorry they once offered me a contract. Of course I had to turn it down because I have this gig here.

The Lakers now are a perfect fit for Bryant. He disagreed with the triangle offense, so Phil is gone. He's tired of sharing the team with Shaq, so Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak said he would entertain offers for Shaq. Entertain offers? Entertain this: The Lakers will miss the playoffs next year without Shaq.

I could go on all morning, but this is my point before I get off my soapbox: What Bryant and Laker nation fail to realize is that Shaq has made Bryant into the superstar that he is now. Bryant gets plenty of open looks and single, man-on-man coverage because of Shaq.

Bryant wants his own team, he wants to prove that he's better than Michael Jordan, the man every player uses as a measuring stick for his game. But Bryant has never had to deal with double-teams before, something His Airness fought through every game.

So now we'll see how good Kobe really is.

Tuesday

The Cardinals finish a nine-game homestand with three games with the Cubs. Two words: Sold out. If you don't have tickets, you better know somebody.

Thursday

The Plaza Tire Capahas are in town Thursday night, hosting the Tradewater, Ky., Pirates at 7 p.m.

Friday

The NHRA's rookie sensation Brandon Bernstein will be among the competitors in this weekend's eighth annual Sears Craftsman NHRA Nationals at Gateway International Raceway in Madison, Ill. Qualifying sessionsbegin 10 a.m. Friday and Saturday. Finals are 4:30 p.m.Sunday.

Saturday

If you're on the East Side for the drag races, head down to Sauget, Ill., to see the Gateway Grizzlies host the Windy City Thunderbolts at 7 p.m. You can see a couple of former Southeast Missouri State Indians: Phil Warren and Gary Gilbert both play for the Grizz.

David Wilson is a sportswriter for the Southeast Missourian and his column appears every Monday.

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