By Anthony McClean, Editor In Chief Emeritus NEW HAVEN (BASN) —...
Kobe Still Doesn’t Get It
NORTH CAROLINA — Well another year has come and gone and the L.A. Lakers’ new “Leading Man”, Kobe Bryant is getting an early start on summer vacation then some or most of the other “Superstars” in the Association are still living the “win or go home” mentality on a daily and nightly basis.
That includes the man he wanted out of L.A. so he can “Be the Man”, Shaquille O’Neal. Shaq is currently in the second round of the Eastern Conference semifinals against a very good and talented New Jersey Net team.
You know the mark of a great player in the NBA is to not only to make players better around you, but to have respect of your peers both on and off the court and to revolutionize the game or leave a legacy of dominance and greatness when that player retires from the game.
You can also apply that to coaches to like Red Auerbach, Phil Jackson, Billy Cunningham, Larry Brown, Greg Popavich, Chuck Daly and others who hold their place in history based on wins, championships and the ability to mold players from average to very good to very good to great. But the basketball enthusiast usually debate around the water coolers in offices around the world with the players that make then cheer and jeer, boo and applaud in NBA arena’s around the country.
Who was better Wilt or Russell, Bird or Magic, Havlicek or West, Jordan or Magic, Lebron or Carmelo and on and on it goes. But what about Kobe Bryant.
Kobe, the well rounded-cultured young man that speaks numerous languages and has the charm and pizazz that one would think would rival Jordan or Magic. Kobe, the talented phenom coming out of high school straight into the NBA showing athleticism and the flash of greatness and dominance that put him in conversations of some of the best players of his era and decades of talented B-Ball players of the past.
But why is Kobe still not only despised and in some circles hated in the eyes of some players, media and most disturbingly fans as well?
Let’s look at some factors with him on and off the court:
1. Character perception is everything: The one thing a black athlete in this country cannot do is have a reputation of being selfish, arrogant or aloof or a thug in the court of public opinion(which this particular court is usually made up of caucasians). You look at Barry Bonds, Mike Tyson, Terrell Owens, Latrell Sprewell, Allen Iverson and even Ron Artest all of which are talented but can stake claim to one or more of these characteristics which will utimately place and asterisk or black mark by their names and legacies.
2. Rape Allegations: Although Mr. Bryant was not convicted of rape in a very high advertise trial with him and the victim, things went bad to worse thanks to Bryant’s own self inflicted wounds. First, he had to explain to his very young and beautiful wife why he committed adultry which sprung her into a lime light that she seemingly did not want to be in. Infidelity is something seemingly inexcusable in the opinions of women and married couples all over the country and world unfortunately for Mr. Bryant.
3. Giving info to the press about your team mates and what they do in their personal life certainly put Kobe on the bad list with fans but more importantly with players around the league. Their is nothing worst then being perceived as a “rat”. He also accused his former teammate Shaq O’Neal of picking up women in a similar fashion as he allegedly and apparently did which led to his legalitites in the first place. A move that Shaq and many players and fans considered to be “breaking the rule of silence” and becoming a rat to many of the piers on his team and the league could never forgive. And let’s not forget the incident with he and Karl Malone where he and his wife basically accused Malone of making a pass at his wife.
4. Selfishness: Kobe has the reputation as being a selfish player not only because he forced Laker management to choose between he and Shaq, but because his tendency is to shoot too much and not get his teammates involved although he showed some flashes of doing that in this years playoff against Phoenix. He also doesnt seem to make his teammates better. Something the Jordan’s, Shaq’s, Magic’s and other greats did in their career. That’s vital considering how much attention he garners on the offensive end of the court. Double and triple teams leave players open but his teammates have not shown they can make shots when needed primarily because they dont see the ball enough. Kobe takes too many shots and although he is probably thrilled to win the scoring title and probably will win it several more times in his career, scoring a lot of points does not lead to championships.
5. Arrogance: Kobe continues to show his arrogance on and off the court. I know superstars in pro sports are arrogance about them especially when they are considered the best in their sport, but Kobe takes it to another level. Kobe gives people the perception that he is above the game and does not have to play by the rules of the NBA. For example: When he hit Mike Miller of the Memphis Grizzlies with his forearm knocking Miller down and out in a regular season game and Kobe not only denied it was intentional but also thought his two-game suspension was too harsh and not warranted. His arrogance shines brightly in interviews during and after games, during practices and other situations with a microphone and camera in his face. This is a guy that is born in Philadelphia and is not accepted there. What’s wrong with that picture?
Finally, it doesn’t seem as though Kobe has much respect for Phil Jackson or the Laker team. As well as the Lakers played during the first round series versus Phoenix, in games that the Lakers really had no chance of winning, Kobe stop playing. Imagine Phil trying to get the team to continue to play hard to try an at least make the game competitive, cut the Suns lead only to see Kobe decide to stop shooting. That was the case in Game 7.
With the Lakers trailing big at halftime and losing by almost 30 in the third quarter, Kobe decided to play pass the ball to my teammates instead of taking shots. When they needed him to take over and shoot the ball, he didn’t making a statement to Phil Jackson and the team, if I don’t get the ball and shoot as much as I want in a game, this is what happens. A blowout.
Bryant took only 3 shots in the second half of that game making quite clear that he was disinterested in helping the team mount a comeback. Once again, it’s all about Kobe.
In closing, Kobe Bryant’s personality and character will not allow any player or coach to out shine him. He is considered the best player in the game in terms of athleticism and raw ability and talent but that title wasnt good enough when he played along side Shaq.
That title wasnt good enough according to Phil Jackson’s book and that title wasn’t good enough when you look at the incident he had with Lamar Odom when Odom apparently complainted about the lack of shots for him and others on the team.
You can have all the talent in the world and win all the individual awards year after year but if Kobe does not display the passion and love for the sport you play like the great players of today and yesterday, he will be forever known as a great player that could have been the greatest if he would have allowed himself to be humble and understand that no player is larger then the game and fans dont always cheer for the player, they cheer for the uniform.
To be considered the best, you need to wear that badge of honor on and off the court. You must be a true positive leader and ambassador of your sport and Kobe Bryant is yet to understand and relish that role.
He should also understand that team success is much more important than individual success and if he plays within the team concept the individual accomplishments will come anyway because of his God-given talent.
Let’s hope Kobe GET’S IT before IT’S all said and done and his career is over.