The Oklahoma City Thunder eliminated the Los Angeles Lakers and Kobe Bryant last night beating them 106-90 in Game 5 to advance to the Western Conference Finals.
Kobe did not go down without a fight scoring 42 points, taking 33 shots and recording zero assists.
After the game Kobe was asked about if he felt this loss was the ending of an era.
“I’m not fading into the shadows,” Kobe said. “I’m not going anywhere. We’re not going anywhere.”
Kobe, now at age 33 and in his 16th season in the NBA, is up against maybe the toughest opponent ever for him: time.
There is no competitor in the league today quite like Kobe. It’s tough to bet against him but he might not be able to overcome the wave of young stars now standing in his path of tying Michael Jordan with his sixth ring.
Kobe had a remarkable season this year. In a lockout condensed 66-game schedule, he somehow stayed healthy all year for the most part, nearly won the scoring title and led the Lakers who were somewhat a shell of their championship teams a few years ago to the 3-seed in the Western Conference.
Kobe looked as good as he has in a long time. It’s not enough anymore. It never really was for Kobe. He’s always needed help. He doesn’t have enough anymore.
There’s going to be a lot of talk surrounding this Lakers team in the offseason. Should they trade Andrew Bynum? Should they trade Pau Gasol? Should they blow the whole team up?
One thing is always certain and that is that Kobe will remain a Laker and always be their alpha dog. And it seems there is only one player out there that could possibly help him toward catching Jordan in rings: Dwight Howard.
Kobe has always needed help and Howard is the man for the job, the most talented big man in the league who doesn’t know what the hell he is doing. A perfect fit with Kobe.
Howard hurt his image as much as possibly fathomable this season and now in Orlando he has gotten rid of their head coach and general manager. He has one year left with the Magic and it seems very unlikely he’ll be there any longer.
Centers in Howard’s position have always chosen the Lakers. Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Shaquille O’Neal all became Lakers around this point in their careers. Howard doing the same would be more than fitting.
After the season Bynum had and they might as well throw in Gasol too, Los Angeles should be able to pull off bringing Howard in to join Kobe and make a few last runs at an NBA title.
Kobe is right. He isn’t done. He’ll play another 5-7 years probably. But if he doesn’t want to go away from championship relevancy, Howard is his only hope.