Should he be a facilitator? Is he the problem? Does he really make his teammates better?
All the questions above are valid and topics that we can choose to debate at a later time.
Now it’s simply time to stop and give a man credit where credit is due.
Kobe Bryant did something that had nothing to do with shooting a basketball this week, and it may be one of his greatest accomplishments.
When Laker Nation needed him the most, Bryant stepped up.
On Wednesday, prior to tip-off against the arch rival Boston Celtics, Bryant came to the center of the court. He had no notes or a teleprompter, just teary eyes, as he understood what he had to do.
Eloquently echo the feeling of an entire nation of emotional Laker fans.
“On Monday, we lost who we all know to be the greatest owner in sports. Ever.” Bryant said. “He was a brilliant and incredible owner, but he was even a better person with a great heart.“
“His vision has transcended the game, and we are all, all spoiled by his vision and by his drive to win year after year after year.” Bryant smiled. “Through our years being here at Staples Center the one thing that we could always count on was the great Dr. Jerry Buss overlooking his franchise from his box.”
Bryant then pointed up at Buss’ seat and asked Staples Center for a moment of silence to honor a man that is responsible for 10 world championships, 16 trips to the NBA finals, and more importantly affecting the lives of millions upon millions of people.
On Thursday, Dr. Jerry Buss was honored in a memorial service. Names such as Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Pat Riley, and Phil Jackson graced the stage and reflected on how Buss affected them as a person.
Bryant once again stood alone on Thursday. An audience of people waiting to hear what the face of the franchise had to say about his owner who had passed away just three days earlier.
Once again, Bryant didn’t look down at notes, didn’t need a teleprompter, nor did he stutter over his words.
He captivated the room as he so often does, told a joke to ease the seriousness of the moment, and most importantly spoke from the heart.
He ended with a message to his current teammates. “We are playing for something bigger than ourselves, bigger than one season, we are playing for the memory of a great man. Dr. Jerry Buss.”
Bryant has never been afraid of stepping up to a challenge because he has the confidence that he will succeed. What he did on Wednesday night, and then again Thursday afternoon is a very difficult thing to do. His clutch gene that so often helps him on the basketball court kicked into gear.
Both speeches captivated his audience as he spoke with eloquence and grace.
And it may be one of his most impressive accomplishments of his career.