Kobe Bryant has been under intense scrutiny this week after a critical ESPN report blamed the Black Mamba for the Lakers' recent failures.
There has even been the suggestion that Kobe almost scuppered the Lakers Steve Nash trade deal in 2012, with a failed attempt for star baller Carmelo Anthony this summer also being blamed on Kobe.
Not Kobe's fault
But Lakers President Jeanie Buss came to the defense of the Lakers star on Thursday, with Buss saying Carmelo's decision to spurn the opportunity to play for the Lakers was more down to his love of New York rather than a dislike of Kobe.
"I understand why he chose to stay with New York. I don’t think any of that has to do with Kobe Bryant."
“We made a very good case for [Carmelo] coming to Los Angeles,” Buss said. “But he’s from New York, he sees a mission. I understand why he chose to stay with New York. I don’t think any of that has to do with Kobe Bryant.”
Los Angeles Lakers have never been in such a desperate state before. Following a franchise record worst season, the Lakers are a shadow of their former self.
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- Lakers' Kobe Bryant takes higher ground after brutal ESPN report
Slim hope of recruiting Carmelo
There was a slim hope this summer that the Lakers could return to greatness as the summer brought with it the opportunity of landing a top free agent star.
The biggest name available was LeBron James, but the chance of landing him was soon muted as it became clear that James would either return to the Cleveland Cavaliers or stay in Miami.
The Lakers never even truly attempted to persuade LeBron to move cross country, but they did dabble with the idea of bringing Carmelo Anthony to the Lakers, but the New York Knicks star declined the opportunity.
Instead, the Lakers are hoping Kobe's return from a fractured kneecap and the addition of Jeremy Lin and Julius Randle will see them turn around their fortunes somewhat.
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