In many ways, the flirtation stage in the courtship process is the most rewarding. You get to project fantasies of a best case outcome without the depressing eventualities a true union brings. So it is with the Lakers and its seemingly never-ending search for a proper compliment to Kobe Bryant on the wing.
The Michael Jordan – Scottie Pippen partnership for the Chicago Bulls in the 1990’s stands out for its singular symmetry. The same could be said of the Jerry West – Elgin Baylor Lakers and Lebron James – Dwyane Wade Miami Heat. In the main though, its rare for a singular wing talent to be paired with a quality long term partner on the wings. Who did Dominique Wilkins have? Bernard King? The great historical wings, have in common, a revolving door of players brought in to complement them.
For the Los Angeles Lakers this has been an endless odyssey. Kobe Bryant’s once in a lifetime skillset and exacting demeanor has made him difficult to pair with for the longterm. There have been many – Eddie Jones, Glen Rice, Devean George, Caron Butler, Luke Walton, Trevor Ariza, and Metta World Peace. History will record World Peace as Bryant’s best partner but even that partnership was flawed.
The Lakers have recently worked out Michael Beasley on two occasions, flirting with the possibility of adding the former 2nd overall pick from the 2008 draft. Beasley is the type of talent that gets the attention of many organizations, but his inconsistent production, and the cause of that inconsistency, makes him a journeyman. At age 25, there is enough youth and ability to inspire hope that he can put his enormous talent together into a devastating force, but at the same time there is enough history of failure to cast significant doubt that he will ever figure it all out.