Kobe Bryant thinks the Cavs need some turmoil.
Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant played his most efficient game in three years -- he had 26 points on 11-for-16 shooting -- in a 120-108 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday, he shared his opinion about the opponent. Would you be surprised to learn he thinks LeBron James' team needs "inner conflict?"
From ESPN's J.A. Adande:
"You have to be true to who you are, and authentic," Kobe said. "And I think every team should have that lightning rod. Because the happy-go-lucky stuff doesn't work. I don't care what anybody says or people's perception of the team. You have to have that inner conflict. You have to have that person that's really driving these things. From the Cavs' perspective, it's hard for me to tell from afar who should be that person. LeBron's not that person. LeBron, he's a ... he brings people together. That's what he does naturally. He's phenomenal at it. But you have to have somebody else who's going to create that tension. Maybe it's Kyrie [Irving]."
A few thoughts:
1. Would anyone else on the planet say that the Cavaliers need more conflict? This Cleveland team seems to constantly be in the middle of some sort of crisis, from former coach David Blatt's firing to rumors about its stars and LeBron James' critical comments. This is the last team I'd describe as "happy-to-lucky."
2. It's interesting that this comment came a week after James, Kyrie Irving and coach Tyronn Lue spoke about the value of an "enforcer." Cavs players were "furious" that the front office let center Kendrick Perkins go last summer, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer's Chris Haynes. Perhaps that's the kind of guy Bryant was thinking about.
3. Remember what Bryant said about the Golden State Warriors last weekend? It was pretty much the same thing, though he singled out Draymond Green as the lightning rod.
From The Vertical's Michael Lee:
"He's the one that has to keep his finger on the nerve with this team, because it can get lax, it can get comfortable, and I think he's the one that's going to have to create that conflict, that tension in the locker room, because if they don't have that, then in the playoffs, then they are going to be in trouble," Bryant said of Green. "He's got to give them that conflict."
There is truth in what Bryant's saying. Before a recent game, Toronto Raptors coach Dwane Casey said something similar: "Happy teams lose."
This is why some players hang onto every perceived slight, and why a team like Golden State came into training camp talking about being underestimated after a 67-win season. It's a little funny, though, that Bryant has such similar takes on two completely different teams. The conventional wisdom is that the Cavs need less conflict, not more, and that part of the Warriors' success is that they play with joy, not anger. This is one of those quotes that tells you more about the speaker than the subject.