As far as basketball goes, Kobe Bryant had what he needed by 2010. Without Shaquille O’Neal sharing his spotlight, Bryant won consecutive NBA championships, proving he could do that as the Lakers’ primary superstar. But he wasn’t done, and he wanted to stick around in Los Angeles, so the Lakers acted accordingly.
Or at least they tried to. LA — run by a complex, ever-changing, and sometimes nepotistic front office — soon realized the core that earned them back-to-back rings wasn’t going to cut it against some rising Western Conference powerhouses. So they swung a huge trade to bring in superstar Chris Paul. When that trade got vetoed by the league, things started to spiral: Upset co-stars led to desperate dismissals, which led to desperate acquisitions, which led to diminishing organic growth and eventually a whole lot of losing.
The Lakers said farewell to Bryant with their worst seasons as a franchise. This episode of Collapse explains how they fell so precipitously within the twilight of their departing star.