Kobe Bryant and UCLA: A Perfect Marriage

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Anyone who follows sports knows Kobe Bryant is as competitive a person as any athlete has ever been. He thrives on competition and over the course of his incredible NBA career, he has never backed down from anyone: Micheal Jordan, LeBron James, Kevin Durant, or any number of other NBA players have all seen first hand the competitive fire that burns inside Kobe. His intensity has made it a challenge for weaker minded players like Dwight Howard to want to play with him and former teammates will tell you how miserable he can make your life once you set foot on a basketball court. Still, he is arguably one of the greatest players to ever play in the NBA and this is praise coming from a life long Celtics fan who loves to see the Lakers get beat.

Kobe Bryant at Lakers practice facility. (Claudia Gestro)
Kobe Bryant at Lakers practice facility.
(Claudia Gestro)

Though he has yet to admit it, time has caught up with Kobe. Three consecutive seasons ended early with three different injuries in need of surgical repair will do that, even if you are known to train harder than anyone else on the planet. Kobe cannot win another NBA title with the current crop of teammates he has and unless he is willing to take a large pay cut to attract better talent, his Lakers will be lucky to contend for a playoff spot next year even if Kobe remains healthy for an entire season.

Life in the NBA is not long for Kobe Bryant and it is time he begin looking at what he wants to do when his playing days are over. When you are as driven as Kobe Bryant is, turning off your competitive juices is more difficult than rehabbing from another injury. It may even be an impossible task because his entire life has been centered around basketball. Over the course of it, Kobe has absorbed all things related to the game to the point where when he bleeds, the drops of blood look like tiny basketballs.

So what should Kobe Bryant do next? I am sure networks will offer him plenty of money to work broadcasts, but Kobe is not really a people person. It would drive him crazy to call a game rather than take it over. In fact, his personality is not suited to sticking around the NBA as a coach, GM, or even an owner. If Kobe is unable to tolerate weak-minded teammates now, what makes you think he will be able to if he is in charge of a team? Still, he needs to be involved in the game which brings me to the perfect job for him.

Kobe Bryant and UCLA basketball are a perfect fit for each other. Not only do both need each other, they are meant for one another.

UCLA basketball is back on the path of mediocrity. Once the greatest basketball program in the country, UCLA isn’t even the best college hoops program in Southern California. That honor belongs to San Diego State. UCLA’s best recruits underachieve, leave early, and do better in the NBA than they do at Westwood. Once able to land the best of the best in talent anywhere in the country, UCLA is all too often out-recruited in their own backyard by the likes of Arizona and Oregon. This has to eat away at the wealthy boosters who long to see more national title banners hanging from the rafters of Pauley Pavilion.

Who better to fix this than Kobe Bryant? Not only does he know how to play basketball, Kobe Bryant knows the game. He is a life long student of its history and strategy going back to his childhood in Italy where he would sit court side and watch his dad, Jelly Bean Bryant, play hoops right up to the present. Kobe has been exposed to and mastered all levels and styles of play and can teach the game to anyone who wants to learn from the best. Coaching at the college level is perfect for him because it will allow him to teach the game to young men eager to become a master of the game.

Despite being injuredKobe Bryante is still the franchise for the Lakers. (Claudia Gestro)
Despite being injuredKobe Bryante is still the franchise for the Lakers. (Claudia Gestro)

Can you imagine anyone else who could out recruit Kentucky’s John Calipari? On top of this, Kobe would prepare more than just his players for each game. He would prepare himself and his staff as well by doing what he has always done, out working everyone else. Kobe Bryant not only could, he would turn UCLA into a powerhouse that would routinely make final four appearances and winning national titles so common, anything less would be unimaginable.

Kobe Bryant and UCLA is a marriage that has to happen. It keeps Kobe in Los Angeles and allows him to become a 21st century Wizard of Westwood while allowing UCLA to return to its rightful spot at the top of the college basketball game. Money won’t be an issue; UCLA boosters will make sure of that. Kobe can remain close to his current home and be able to ply his brilliance in a new way that will show everyone just what a unique competitor he is. Young men who play for him will greatly benefit from both Kobe’s vast knowledge of the game and overall intellect, something not enough people have written about.

For a town that loves a winner, there would be no stopping multiple titles from a marriage joining the Black Mamba with the Bruin Blue.