Speaking of Kobe, here's a little something I wrote on another forum today in response to some Kobe Hatred:
There is no question that Kobe Bryant made some big missteps along the way from the time he was a naive teenager until his eventual maturation that we are witnessing now. He was distant, aloof and until recently didn't understand the meaning of friendship. How could he? I'm not making excuses for that, but he was raised in Italy, went to a private high school in the suburbs of Philly and was coddled the entire time with his incredible God-given talents. Considering his similar abilities on the basketball court, he obviously followed Michael Jordan's career closely and at some point early in his career probably decided that he wanted to be the greatest player of all time by imitating and hopefully passing MJ someday. God forbid. Fortunately, while he still sets lofty goals for himself, he has grown up. He constantly praises the other greats of the game (both past and present), feels honored to be considered in their company, and has become both humbled and a true ambassador of the game. I am sure that LeBron, CP3, D-Wade and others would agree with that assessment.
However, there are some who choose to cling to his missteps and even go a step further to mischaracterize them and make assumptions about certain things that they really don't know anything about. First of all, nothing has driven Kobe more than winning championships. He was more than Shaq's "Robin." Arguably, they formed the greatest 1-2 punch in the history of the game and people forget how great Kobe was on those championship teams. There is no way the Lakers win 3 championships without him those years. Then came Colorado. It was bad enough that he committed adultery, but worse if he actually committed rape. However, no one will never know whether or not that was true and you can't make an assumption one way or the other about it. He was remorseful and has done everything possible to repair his image. The reception he received on the world stage in Beijing and the finishing touches he did in the Gold Medal game should be plenty for anyone who has ever hated him to now give him the pass he earned.
Then there was the Summer of '07. I was as upset as anyone when he badmouthed Andrew Bynum and especially Dr. Buss and the Lakers management. But let's not forget what triggered that outburst. It was an untrue comment made from a Lakers "insider" whereby Kobe was accused of telling Dr. Buss "either Shaq goes or I go." During the entire aftermath of the whole world blaming Kobe on Shaq's departure, he kept a cool head even though he knew it was a decision made by Dr. Buss that he had nothing to do with. Even Shaq to this day agrees with that. But certain people will never accept the truth as being the truth because they have another agenda. In any event, apologies were made, Mitch Kupchak finally got active and now we have the product we get to enjoy today. Don Nelson recently said that Kobe is not only the best player in the league, but the best leader in the league, too.
Finally, there were the rebuilding years apres Shaq. The Rudy T year was awful. Everyone was confused and Kobe was frustrated. Phil returned and Kobe should have won the MVP that year. 2006-07 was so marred with injuries and mediocrity that even the great Michael Jordan couldn't have saved that season. Then there was 2007-08. Kobe won the MVP and took a team that wasn't given a shot before the season started to the NBA Finals. He has been there 5 times in the last 9 years.
No, he's not Michael Jordan or Magic Johnson. His career isn't over either. But the bashing he gets over being selfish or all about Kobe is unfair. He's a competitor at the highest possible level and expects others to work as hard he he does. Like MJ. The same MJ who womanized and gambled and quit basketball for 2 years to pursue his dream of playing professional baseball. The same MJ who selfishly made a comeback with the Wizards for himself. The same perfect Michael Jeffrey Jordan who many idolize. That MJ. Like Kobe, the imperfect MJ.
There's my take on the good and bad of Kobe Bryant. Oh yes, his shot selection from time to time has something to be desired and he doesn't always get it right in terms of whether he should take over games or rely on his teammates. He's far from perfect, but all the "experts" think he's the best there is right now. That Kobe. Like MJ, the imperfect Kobe.
Edited by Ken #1 Beloved, January 08, 2009 - 05:18 PM.