Kobe Bryant Blog Day, huh? (thus the ‘KBBD’)
Amazingly enough, only a blog that has real issues with Kobe Bryant – such as Hardwood Paroxysm (real or imagined) – could pull this one off. Anything less than that starting point and it reeks of sycophantism.
Even a blogger such as myself – sometime critic of Kobe’s – would struggle to succeed in an undertaking as huge as this.
Whilst I deplore the way Kobe has vented his frustrations during the off-season, I still think that he gets a bum wrap from far, far too many people – including some in positions of power in the NBA.
You don’t like the guy?
No problem… but have the integrity to be able to distance your antipathy from recognizing that he’s an amazing talent.
The recent LeBron James lovefest is just the latest: people are lauding James for pretty much what Kobe did the past two seasons – and he got panned for it. Now that he’s doing exactly what the critics screamed for, it’s hit with provisos galore. “Yeah, but…” is the most oft-used opening for discussions on Kobe’s successes with these esteemed folk.
Yeah but nothing.
Kobe Bryant is playing basketball at an amazing level this year, at both ends of the court. Like him or not, that’s simply a fact.
I find it amazing that we attach some semblance of ‘knowing’ to an athlete’s persona. In this day and age, you don’t think that ‘like-ability’ is heavily marketed?
Even worked on?
Greg Oden worked with a publicist prior to making interviews prior to the draft, making sure that he came across as good as he could. Reality check: we don’t know them. We may at times get glimpses of who they are, but to attribute any sense of who they really are to their public persona is more than a little tricky.
Without a doubt one of the most polarizing figures in professional sports, most people fall into two categories only – sharply defined by ‘love’/’hate’. Therefore, if you’re not a Kobe ‘hater’, then the natural assumption is that you’re a Kobe ‘lover’.
I definitely don’t fit in the category of being a hater. I do think he’s the best player in basketball today, and I am a Lakers fan.
But love him?
I find his off-court behavior to be at best puzzling, and sometimes infuriating. One only had to read my blog from pretty much when it started last June to sense my frustration.
And I’ll admit it: there was a stage where I thought BEGONE ALREADY! Like many, I was ready to move on from the Kobe-as-a-Laker days.
But that is a little unfair. More than a little. Kobe’s a complex individual, pretty much everyone is. I realise that that’s a fairly cliched and obvious comment to make, but we all have days when it’s fortunate that we’re not under the spotlight… and the spotlight is on no-one in the NBA more than Kobe. Perhaps only one or two others get as much of being under the microscope.
But also dwelling heavily in the realm of my antipathy was the LA front office. I had the same frustrations Kobe did about the seeming inability to get a contender together. And I’ll admit that I was wrong.
Mitch Kupchak had vision & wisdom far beyond the rest of us mere mortals (Kobe Bryant included)… especially supposed media insiders (like Rick Bucher). And all of us who scoffed at what the Lakers have done over the past few years look rather foolish now. Mitch & Co. turned an aging Shaquille O’Neal into Lamar Odom and Pau Gasol. Managed to hold onto a young, raw center by the name of Andrew Bynum… and put together a young, talented team that should be able to challenge the best the NBA has to offer for years to come.
So post KBBD, perhaps reflect a little on whether your views on the man are reasonable. At least recognise his prowess on the court… and grant him his due. He’s a phenomenal player, and the game is richer for his presence.