In his continuing evolution as one of the greatest to ever play the sport of basketball, Kobe Bryant is adding a new weapon to his arsenal – forgiveness.
ESPN’s Marc Stein reports that KB24 will have a sit down with Raja Bell in hopes of convincing the free agent to join the Lakers in their quest to threepeat. That would be the same Raja Bell that went WWE on Kobe back when the Suns and Lakers tangled in the first round of the playoffs just four years ago.
That Bryant would be willing to bury the hatchet in the name of winning is nothing new. Kobe had no problem welcoming Ron Artest into the Purple and Gold fold. That would be the same Ron Ron that ran some serious smack and went chest-to-chest with Bryant all in the name of getting into the two time Finals MVP’s head.
Stein’s “sources” cite Kobe’s respect for Bell’s “gumption” as the biggest reason why he’d like to see Raja on the roster.
One source close to the situation said memories of Bell’s takedown, which earned him a suspension for Game 6 of the series — the Suns, down 3-2, won the game at Staples Center without him — are actually one reason why Bryant sees Bell as such an ideal teammate. The premise? Anyone with the gumption to hit Bryant that hard is someone he wants on his team.
While I realize that necessity makes for some strange bed fellows, this is a tough pill to swallow.
Bell is a hard nosed defender with a knockdown jumper from beyond the arc. He’s a perfect fit for the triangle and made a name for himself by defending Kobe in the NBA Finals back in 2001 when Bell was just trying to carve his niche in the league. In short, Raja has much respect as a made man in the game.
Still, it is going to be difficult for fans such as myself to see Bell sporting a Lakers jersey.
Then again, it was pretty tough accepting the fact that Vladimir Radmanovic was actually defending Paul Pierce in the NBA Finals two years ago.
We’ll have more on this after the two have their meet and greet on Wednesday. Until then, I’d suggest all Laker fans get used to the idea of chanting “Raja!” in unison. So far Kobe the GM has convinced Phil Jackson to give it one more go and Derek Fisher to stay put. Given that track record it’s going to be hard for a punk player like Bell to refuse Kobe’s offer.