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What the Broncos should have learned from the Lakers...

Tell me if this sounds familiar...

At the end of a frustrating season a young, petulant, immature and yet supremely talented All-Star, the anchor of one of sports greatest franchises, feels like he was wronged by the organization. But rather than keep the issue in house, he whines and complains to to a few reporters demanding a trade. A media frenzy ensues, engulfing an entire city in a "should they or shouldn't they trade him?" debate. Even the owner of the team tries to take a break from his off-season to personally reach out to the player, but is unable to convince the player to relinquish his trade demands.

Denver Broncos/Jay Cutler fans have become all too familiar with this unfortunate, unnecessary story, except I'm not talking about the Broncos and Cutler.

I'm talking about the Los Angeles Lakers and their one time frustrated star, Kobe Bryant. In 2007, the Lakers went through a very similar ordeal that the Broncos have just undergone. As all Nuggets fans will remember, in the summer of 2007 Bryant demanded a trade, the media went nuts, Lakers owner Jerry Buss, general manager Mitch Kupchak and head coach Phil Jackson reached out to Bryant, and nothing changed. But rather than capitulate and trade their prized commodity, Buss, Kupchak and Jackson called Bryant's bluff and essentially dared their star player not to show up for training camp. Knowing that wanting to avoid an intensely negative PR storm, the loss of several paychecks and his own competitive pride would eventually bring Bryant into camp, Buss, Kupchak and Jackson did nothing except bring Lakers legend Magic Johnson in behind the scenes to help broker the peace between Bryant and the organization.

When training camp arrived, Bryant was there on time, was forced to answer a lot of awkward questions about his trade demands and he went about his business. When Bryant was introduced to Lakers fans at Staples Center on opening night against the Rockets, he was booed. But when the Lakers won the game 95-93, thanks to a furious fourth quarter scoring run by Bryant, Bryant was cheered and never got booed in Los Angeles again. And we all know what happened after that. The Lakers went on to win 57 games, made it to the NBA Finals and Bryant was awarded with the NBA's MVP trophy.

Buss, Kupchak and Jackson were rewarded for their foresight and patience, and it's most unfortunate that neither Broncos owner Pat Bowlen, new general manager Brian Xanders nor rookie head coach Josh McDaniels possessed any foresight or patience in dealing with Cutler. Is Jay Cutler a whiny jackass? Of course he is. But he's a talented, whiny jackass, and franchise quarterbacks don't grow on trees (just as NBA MVPs don't grow on trees). All Bowlen had to do was copy the Jerry Buss playbook, stop talking to the media and dare Cutler not to show up at training camp. So Cutler might have missed a few optional off-season workouts. Big deal. At the end of the day, Cutler would have showed up at camp and perhaps he and McDaniels would even have gotten along.

Had Bowlen and his team learned from the Lakers situation with Bryant, Broncos fans wouldn't have gotten screwed into what will most likely be another failed season of NFL football in Denver.