This is a MUST READ article from Kevin Ding. Fantastic article on Kobe Bryant.
O.C. Register: Kobe Bryant’s world is again lit up by the most brilliant of suns, the gold ball that sits atop the championship trophy the Lakers won again last June. What’s more, there isn’t a cloud in this sky, quite a shift for someone who has fronted as many storms as he has.
He is the 2008 NBA MVP and 2009 NBA Finals MVP, and his No. 24 jersey leads all others in worldwide sales. He is at the zenith of his power and popularity. That much is seen by the stir he caused at Dodger Stadium just making his way to his seat for Game 2 of the NLCS.
So how is it he can also be somewhat of an afterthought?
The Lakers’ Web site put out a 950-word report on Coach Phil Jackson’s meeting with reporters just before training camp, looking ahead to this possible repeat championship season. Amazingly, not one of those words was “Kobe.”
That’s because he is winning again, but without new controversy. Bryant is no longer a man of mystery. He is neither misanthrope (to his haters) nor misguided angel (to his believers).
He simply became respectable, in every sense of the word.
Leading up to his 14th Lakers season, the Newport Coast resident sat down for an exclusive interview with the Register to explain that he has been more repaired than reformed.
“Circumstances,” Bryant said. “I really haven’t changed much.”
But Bryant did acknowledge one thing has turned around completely. Upon sharing it, he tried to add dismissively that it’s “just something personal for me.”
He has come to care more what others think of him.
“I’m more in tune with it. I pay more attention to it. I have a greater sense of responsibility for it,” he said. “It’s all a part of how you are going to be remembered as a basketball player when it’s all said and done. I care about it significantly more now than I did in the past.”