Kobe Bean Bryant is a gifted player that stars for the Los Angeles Lakers and that has helped them reach the proverbial promised land on a few occasions. Although he is still adding chapters to his legacy, we can already determine to a certain extent how he will be remembered and viewed in the near future. Once the Black Mamba decides to retire, he will go down into history as one of the best shooting guards to have ever played the game. And yet, many would have you believe that this superstar has a plethora of issues holding him back.
Here a few that we have heard over the course of his career:
- He does not look or sound cool
- Kobe cannot accept to just play his role
- He refuses to acquiesce to the head coach’s demands
- Eagle, Colorado
- He drove Shaquille O’Neal out of town
- He is stubborn to a fault
- He cannot win without Shaq
- He would rather be a one-man show
- He wants out of Los Angeles
- He only has one MVP
- He cannot defeat the Celtics
- He is an awkward individual even with his own family as evidenced by the 2009 championship celebration over the Magic in which Kobe seemed completely lost as to how to react with his kids when given the Finals MVP trophy
- He makes questionable decisions with the game on the line
- He has too much John McClain in him and not enough Danny Ocean
- He failed to show up for Game 7 against the Celtics but was bailed out by his teammates
- He’s lost a step.
Truthfully, we could keep on adding onto the list but the point is fairly obvious: Kobe Bryant (much like many superstars before him) has faced an insane amount of criticism during his NBA career. With that said, the man has worked hard to perfect his craft in his quest to become the best player he can possibly be.
Now in his 15th NBA season, Kobe Bryant is still one of the best players in the league today and does not look like he will be giving up ground any time soon. Have a look at his numbers this season:
At age 32, Kobe Bryant is submitting a PER of 23.9 (seventh best in his career) all the while having the highest usage rate (34.9 percent) of any player in the league. His team is in the hunt for the best record in the NBA and he is one of the biggest reasons why.
For his career, the Mamba owns the 18th best PER in NBA history, is 10th all time in points per game and registers as eighth on the all time on the scoring list. In addition, Bryant may end up being the best player to have ever played for a franchise that has been the home of legends such as Elgin Baylor, Jerry West, Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson and Shaquille O’Neal. Oh, and he is the proud owner of five championship rings.
As previously mentioned, Bryant has faced a lot of criticism during his years in the NBA, some of it warranted and some of it not so much; but can we all agree that he is a phenomenal player who has battled some personal demons?
Bryant went from being despised by many as young NBA player in the league, to liked by some when the Lakers started winning titles in the early 2000’s, to hated after being prosecuted in a criminal court, to amazingly getting more venom thrown his way when Shaq was traded to Miami and then the public started to change its view of him bit by bit as he won back to back titles recently. Public perception shifted in the blink of an eye after LeBron James decided to join the Miami Heat on live national television. Kobe is now seen as one of the few superstars that not only is a winner, but that will probably spend the rest of his career with only one team.
Allow me this analogy: the King of Pop was viewed by many as a flawed individual with several psychological scars because of his father and also because he grew up right before our eyes in the spotlight. Prior to his mysterious death, several comedians took shots at Michael Jackson because of his nose, skin tone, kids, voice, behavior and willingness to spend so much time with kids.
For some reason, Jacko has gotten a pass for some of the things he’s allegedly done in his past; instead fans chose to remember all of his hits and greatest moments. Why is this relevant? Well, because players such as Michael Jordan (gambling), Magic Johnson (tested HIV positive), Shaquille O’Neal (his ability to destroy everything in his path, his former teams included), Kevin Garnett (his tiresome bully act) and Allen Iverson (aversion to practice) all battled their own personal demons but have not faced as much scrutiny as Kobe Bryant; although Magic probably has a good case.
And yet, the question that several people keep asking is: what’s wrong with Kobe Bryant? And the answer is absolutely nothing. He is merely following the footsteps of legends that came before him. Perhaps we should give him a break.
In related news: I asked a few fans if they felt as though Kobe Bryant had been treated fairly by the media throughout his career; you can find their answers here.