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Kobe Bryant needs to show his face, angry or not

SportsNBAKobe BryantBasketballPro BasketballLos Angeles LakersStaples Center

Kobe Bryant could learn something from Chance the Gardener, the childlike simpleton from the movie "Being There": Sometimes all that matters is showing up.

Bryant has been conspicuously absent from the Lakers' bench in recent weeks, preferring to remain in the locker room during games at Staples Center. A Lakers spokesman said he missed one recent game because he was sick.

His absence under any other circumstance should make the Lakers and their fans queasy.

Capable of playing or not, Bryant is making $30.5 million this season. The least he can do is sit on the bench with his teammates.

It doesn't matter that the season has long been lost or that more than half the roster will be turned over in a matter of months.

Bryant's presence lets the fans know that he still cares, that he remains the face of the franchise at a time when most would rather be reminded of anyone besides executive Jim Buss.

Even if Bryant needs daily treatment in his recovery from Achilles' and knee injuries, set aside the time it takes to watch a game and there's still 22 hours in a day.

So what if Bryant feels "like killing everybody," as he so colorfully put it, every time he goes to Staples Center? The $371,951 he makes per game should buy a few fake smiles.

Bryant is the NBA's highest-paid player. He should also be its most expensive goodwill ambassador.

Come one, come all

The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame announced its latest class this week, further illustrating its inclusive approach versus the more selective National Baseball Hall of Fame.

Among those to be enshrined in August are the Immaculata University women's teams that won three consecutive AIAW national championships from 1972 to '74 and Arkansas Coach Nolan Richardson, who guided the Razorbacks men's team to the 1994 NCAA title.

Never mind that the Naismith Hall makes room for college players, coaches, teams, referees and contributors in addition to their professional counterparts. The more intriguing discrepancy in membership between the Naismith and National Baseball halls can be found in the number of most valuable players in their ranks.

Every eligible NBA MVP has been inducted into the Naismith Hall going back to Bob Pettit in 1956.

Since 1970 alone, 30 eligible Major League Baseball MVPs have not received Hall passes. Even taking out alleged drug cheats such as Barry Bonds and accounting for the fact that MLB selects two MVPs each season, that's a big difference. And that's not even accounting for spurned Cy Young Award winners.

While baseball wrings its hands over its inductees every year, basketball seems to live by a different motto: The more, the merrier.

Imbalance of power

A pair of sub.-500 teams are battling for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. In the West, a team could finish 49-33 and miss the playoffs.

End this madness? Commissioner Adam Silver said the league just might.

Silver told Fox Sports Southwest the league would consider a new playoff format. One option would be for the 16 teams with the best records — regardless of conference affiliation — to qualify.

This change can't come fast enough. Just ask Dallas, Memphis and Phoenix.

ben.bolch@latimes.com

Twitter: @latbbolch

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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SportsNBAKobe BryantBasketballPro BasketballLos Angeles LakersStaples Center
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