In an opinion that surprises pretty much no one, Jared Dudley said that most players don’t want to play with Kobe Bryant. Dudley appeared on ESPN’s radio show with Colin Cowherd, giving his take on some of the current events in the NBA, such as Kevin Love’s future with the Cleveland Cavaliers and James Harden’s ascension to stardom. When he was asked about Kobe, Dudley didn’t hold anything back:
“Most guys don’t want to play with Kobe. He gets in this thing where he doesn’t pass and then overpasses and then tries to get triple doubles every night…that’s why I think it will be a while for the Lakers to get good because they’ve got no stars. I would be surprised if Love goes there.”
Though Dudley’s opinion isn’t all that surprising, what is surprising is his candor. The NBA is usually a very tight-knit fraternity, with players rarely openly badmouthing one another, especially a player as accomplished as Kobe. Sure, there’s the common trash talk both on and off the court, but that usually ends once the season is over. Dudley’s statement isn’t trash talk, though – it’s an insider’s view.
Dudley’s not wrong, either. Jeanie Buss, in response to ESPN’s vast, scathing report of Kobe’s negative effect on the Lakers, said “any free agent that would be afraid to play with Kobe Byrant is probably a loser.” However, fear isn’t the issue. While Kobe’s championship pedigree is undeniable, so too is his penchant for being an abrasive teammate. During Kobe’s prime, players could put up with that, but it’s hard to imagine they’d do so now that he’s moved beyond that stage and into the twilight of his career.
At one time, playing with Kobe probably wasn’t fun, but it at least put the player in a position to succeed. Now, playing with Kobe is probably a nightmare, even more so when you’re doing it on a team heading nowhere but the lottery.