Special thanks to Carlos Batres for writing this take and giving us the privilege to add it to TheLakersNation.com. Again, if you guys see anything Lakers related that you think deserves to be put up, just e-mail us at articles@TheLakersNation.com.
As far as on and off the court conduct, Michael Jordan and amongst other players of his stature and fame have set the bar as far as what we as fans are willing to accept in a player without it affecting our loyalty. But, most fans have one thing in common. We seem to only truly appreciate a great player once he is retired from the game. However, as an active player, we love nothing more than to kick a player while he is down.
We take hatred to a whole new personal level.
I am a true Laker fan, and I hate to admit it but I used to loathe Jordan and I rejoiced in his struggles that he was experiencing off the court. Of course, with the exception of his father’s passing.
But, in an effort to avoid doing the same thing with Kobe, I would like to pour my heart out and hope that others don’t repeat with Kobe what I did with Jordan. But, for the record, let me just reiterate what Spike Lee once said, “I love Michael Jordan but I hate the Bulls.”
Unfortunately, Kobe’s reputation is still taking a hit from his feud with Shaq. I for one, don’t like the media making my mind up for me by speculating rather than reporting the facts. Especially since their agenda is to generate television ratings and sell newspapers and magazines.
So, the next time you come across the topic, ask yourself, “is this an opinion or a fact?”
As a rookie, I can remember vividly how Kobe would be conducting an interview and Shaq coming from out of nowhere yelling “showboat”. How much of that was affection, jealousy, or Shaq just being Shaq? No one knows. But, looking back at their dislike for each other, it does make you wonder.
At the same time, as Kobe has admitted before, he does deserve some of the responsibility for their falling out. Especially since Kobe is cocky, brash and overconfident and could easily have rubbed his team mates the wrong way. But at the same time, I have to ask. As an NBA veteran, captain and an adult, why wouldn’t Shaq embrace and nurture that in a way that Kareem did with Magic?
Some may argue that there is no way to tell if he did or didn’t but based on what I saw publicly, it did not seem that way. But, that is my opinion and I hope for everyone else to judge for themselves based on what they saw not on what the media wants us to believe.
On a side note, I have to point out how ironic that Reggie Miller was so quick to judge Karl Malone and Gary Payton for, as he called it, “riding other players coat tails” to win a ring when they joined the Lakers. Yet, he is considering doing the same thing.
Along the same lines of irony Kobe has been catching so much heat for requesting that Andrew Bynum be traded for Jason Kidd. However, I can remember Shaq making exactly the same trade request and not catching no where near the same amount of criticism as Kobe has.
It also needs to be noted that Shaq’s request came from personal reasons due to his inability to get along with Kobe. On the other hand, Kobe’s request is due to his frustration of not winning. In my book that is a legitimate reason and I refuse to judge him for wanting to win. Yet, I don’t remember Kobe coming out to the media throwing a tantrum screaming rape, the way that Shaq did. Which, he also did when he yelled and screamed at his boss Jerry Buss, on live television asking for more money. Yeah! That’s mature.
The same goes for his trade request. I for one am not worried whether Kobe will be traded to another team. The Lakers Nation will always be more to me than just about one player. I definitely cannot support him if he does not want to be here as a Laker. That is why I would have never been caught dead in a Shaq-Miami Heat jersey and call myself a TRUE Lakers fan. Disgusting!
That being said, I would like to point out that I want Kobe here with the Lakers. But, I don’t blame him for wanting to win. Are his actions erratic? Yes! selfish? No! But, he is human and like most other legendary NBA players he is a competitor, hard working and will literally rip your heart out to win and for that I admire him and will always appreciate and cheer for him.
But if he leaves the Lakers I will leave it as just appreciation. Just like Shaq. But, I will never dislike him. Nowadays, no one allows Jordan’s mistakes and flaws, due to his competitive nature, to tarnish what he accomplished, let’s do the same with Kobe but this time lets learn to appreciate his greatness, while we can still watch him play, before it’s too late.
For those of you who may say, Kobe is not Jordan, my answer to you is… EXACTLY! Then why would we hold him to higher standards than Jordan?