Friday , Feb , 22 , 2008 Oly Sandor

Why The L.A. Lakers Won the Trade Deadline Sweepstakes

Forget his diverse skill-set. Forget his 20-10 numbers. And forget he’s a world-class player. The Lakers’ acquisition of Pau Gasol accomplished something bigger -it forced Kobe Bryant, one of the game’s elite players, to publicly recommit to the purple-and-gold …

Why The L.A. Lakers Won the Trade Deadline SweepstakesMy AM Take: Forget his diverse skill-set. Forget his 20-10 numbers. And forget he’s a world-class player. The Lakers’ acquisition of Pau Gasol accomplished something bigger –it forced Kobe Bryant, one of the game’s elite players, to publicly recommit to the purple-and-gold.

After all, winning teams have superstars who have bought-in. They listen to their coach, support the GM, and play the role of good soldier for the organization.  

Losing teams have disgruntled superstars. Clubs become dysfunctional when the franchise player tunes out the franchise.

Last October, Bryant would be classified as disgruntled. He was feuding with ownership and Kobe-to-Chicago seemed a certainty. The pre-season was a disaster and Coach Jackson publicly questioned his team’s future.

But the Lakers were a surprise. Andrew Bynum, fresh off the cell-phone beat down, dominated inside before his knee injury. Derek Fisher provided leadership; the bench emerged as a valuable tool.

And Bryant was a consummate professional, subscribing to a less-is-more theory of involving teammates. But winning wasn’t enough. The All-Star refused to publicly endorse the organization because of ongoing issues with management/ownership.

His beef got squashed last week. Bryant spoke glowingly about Gasol and, for the first time since God knows when, supported the organization.

"It shows a great deal of commitment from the organization. It’s a great step. I have to take my hat off to [owner Jerry] Buss and Mitch for going forward with this.”

Teams can tinker with chemistry, but winning begins and ends with superstars. Trading for Gasol forced Bryant to re-pledge his loyalty to the organization. This makes L.A. the undisputed winner of the trade deadline sweepstakes.

What do you think of the Gasol trade? Get at us in the comment box below with your thoughts. The AM Take is Oly’s morning thoughts on the NBA appearing Sunday through Friday on HoopsVibe.com. Errors can be attributed to the time and his need for another coffee. Click here to read and subscribe to his blog.