Lakers Exploited Kobe Bryant To Rob Fans: ESPN Analyst

Lakers Exploited Kobe Bryant To Rob Fans: ESPN Analyst
Kobe Bryant Basket Streaming / Flickr CC BY 2.0

Los Angeles Lakers used the Kobe Bryant farewell tour to exploit the fan base and fill their pockets with millions of dollars, according to popular ESPN analyst Stephen A Smith.


Bryant, who is scheduled to play his final game against Utah Jazz on April 13, has been a shadow of his once great self for a better part of the season. And yet, fans have been showing up at arenas across the country to bid goodbye to one of the sport’s all-time greats.

Riding the coattails…

When Bryant announced his retirement at the start of the season, ticket prices (for all Lakers games) and merchandise sales hit a fever pitch. According to Smith, the Lakers front office exploited Bryant and stole from the fans.

“They rode the coattails of Kobe Bryant to steal money from a Lakers fanbase that they tried to sell like ‘Ok we are going to have a respectable product’ when they clearly knew that was not going to happen,” Smith said on Wednesday’s edition of First Take.

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Smith was serious when he suggested that Jeanie Buss, Jim Buss & Co. could be arrested for robbing Lakers fans off their money. “They could easily be arrested for theft. Because they robbed Laker fans of their money by pretending that they were attempting to put forth a decent basketball product when they knew better.”

Hitting rock bottom….

Prior to the season, many pundits reckoned that the Lakers would improve from last season when thy finished with a franchise-worst record of 21-61. As it stands, the 16-61 Lakers are set lower the bar further. This is the same franchise that won five championships in the 1980s and another five in the Kobe Bryant era. How the mighty have fallen.

After Lakers suffered an embarrassing 101-83 defeat to city rivals Clippers on Tuesday, coach Byron Scott expressed frustration with his team’s inability to send Bryant out on a high note.

“It bothers me that his last five, six, seven, eight games are going to be with the way we’re playing as a team. That bothers me, because you’re talking about a champion (in Kobe). And I hate to see him go out this way. Unfortunately, this is the way it’s going to be,” Scott said.

The former Showtime Laker, part of the team when Kobe Bryant debuted in 1996, said the ‘Black Mamba’ deserved a better exit. “It bothers the hell out of me that somebody who’s given 20 years to this league and has played through broken fingers, come back from the Achilles, come back from the shoulder surgery, and he still goes out there and gives it everything he has, that bothers me.”

Lakers have a long road back to relevancy.

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