Well, that's one way to define 'winning'

Jeff Gross

Did Kobe Bryant win the Dwight Howard saga?

The very good Justin Verrier at the very good TrueHoop:

For a player defined by an insatiable appetite for superiority, Kobe Bryant was dealt a major blow by the departure of Dwight Howard. Not because of who left his Los Angeles Lakers, but what Howard took with him: Bryant's last best chance at another NBA championship. [...]

But while the literal wins are sure to decline without Howard, at least in the immediate, Bryant once again comes away from a Lakers free-agency scare a winner. Because like in 2004, when he was the one threatening to walk, the outcome leaves the Lakers constructed very much in his image.

The only way in which you can call Kobe a "winner" in this free agency period is in such a world where Kobe doesn't care about actually winning. Which we know is absolutely not the case: he cares about little else but winning. Among that little else is, yes, a feeling of superiority. But it's related to the winning, and it's why Bryant crumbled to his knees in 2007 and pushed for a trade to Chicago.

Kobe obviously wanted Dwight to stay. Dwight left, in part because of his sour relationship with Kobe and Kobe's buddy coach, Mike D'Antoni. You can't have it both ways: Kobe and the Lakers didn't get what they wanted, they got objectively worse and they are staring down the worst potential reality of all going into 2013-14: institutional irrelevance.

Kobe Bryant is highly unlikely to matter at all when it comes down to deciding next year's champion, and barring a miracle, that could be the case for the remainder of his Lakers career. For a star as laser-focused on catching and passing MJ in the rings department, that's winning? I don't buy it.

More Verrier, just for fun:

With Howard gone and the Lakers looking more like the Spurs than the super team they feigned to be last season [...]

The Spurs' top players under the age of 32: Tony Parker, Kawhi Leonard, Tiago Splitter, Danny Green. The Lakers' top players under the age of 32: Jordan Hill, Jodie Meeks and Robert Sacre. Yep, pretty similar there.

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