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the Black Mamba

The biggest story in the NBA this season has been Kobe Bryant’s 81 points against the Toronto Raptors on January 22nd.  He was 28 of 46 from the field (7-13 from 3) and hit 18 of 20 attempts at the line.  It is by far the greatest display of offense in the history of the league…not done by a guy named Wilt Chamberlain.  Michael only got to 69, Kobe got to 81.  He played 42 minutes that night and ended up with 6 rebounds and 2 assists.  Quite frankly, I’m surprised he had two assists.  All of this coming a month after he torched the Dallas Mavericks for 62 on December 20th.  By the way, he did that in only 32 minutes.  The man is a scoring machine and is by far the best one on one offensive player in the NBA.  To coin the phrase, “You can’t stop him; you just have to hope to contain him.” Alright, after writing that paragraph I almost vomited.  I watched the All-Star game this weekend and I had a complete relapse of why I have a problem with Kobe Bryant.  I saw his commercial during the All-Star game…”you either love me or hate me, for all the same reasons.”  Well for the record, I think his drive, determination, work ethic, competitiveness, and ability are some of the reasons I like him.  I think it is great to see a guy in the NBA who is so competitive and wants to be the best.  It is not his game that bothers me either.  I think he is one of the five best players in the NBA to be honest.  Lets be realistic, there are guys in the league who are just plain scorers like Bryant, Iverson, Pierce, Arenas, Nowitzki…etc.  They are in the game because they can put the ball in the hole.  Just like closers in baseball, and kick returners in football, these guys are excellent at what they do, even if they are one-dimensional.

Do I think Kobe is a ball-hog?… Is the Pope Catholic?

Anything Kobe Bryant does on the basketball court does not directly affect what I think of him in general.  I think that he has to play the way he does because, let’s face it, the next best player on the team is Lamar Odom.  He has no one on his team who he trusts to make a shot or make a play.  So he does it himself.  Kind of like that mutant 12 year old who absolutely dominates all the other kids because he has a mustache and can buy cigarettes.  That is the way Kobe plays every night.  The only problem is, there are two or three kids like that on the opposing team every night too, so he has to do something superhuman to keep his team in it.

The point is Kobe bothers me because he wants to be like Mike soooooooooooo bad.  He fits the mold; he is a polished, well spoken, good looking, talented athlete who had the world at his feet.  But to be perfectly honest, before the Colorado incident Kobe never seemed humble and had a bit of an arrogance about him.  He feuded with Shaquille O’neal of course and that did not help his image too much.  Shaq was and still is one of the most beloved players in the NBA, and for Kobe to get into a power struggle with him almost certainly pinned him as the “bad guy.”  If this were pro wrestling Kobe would have been “Macho Man” Randy Savage and Shaq would have been Hulk Hogan circa 1989. They were friends after Hogan helped him win the belt, then Savage turned on him when he wanted to be bigger than Hogan was.  What happened, Hogan beat him at WrestlMania V for the title.  After all was said and done though Shaq ended up leaving L.A. for Miami and Kobe ended up having the charges of sexual assault dropped against him.  His image took a major blow and he became a target for every fan in 29 other cities.  (In no way does my distaste for Kobe Bryant stem from his trial or charges in Colorado, frankly I believed Kobe that he just cheated on his wife, why I have no idea.  We all make mistakes and unfortunately this one bit him back big time.)  

However, watching the All-Star game just reminded me why he makes me not like him.  Instead of being Kobe Bryant circa 2006, he decided to try and be like Magic Johnson.  He made it a point to pass up open shots and make sure he got his assist totals up so he didn’t look like a ball-hog.  You know it was pre-meditated to.  It reminded me of the game that he wouldn’t take a shot against Sacramento and the Lakers ended up losing…he had like 10 points and just seemed like a pouting 13-year old girl.  It also reminded me of the game against the Mavericks when he knew that he was going for something special, but he didn’t want to be labeled as selfish, so instead he sat out the fourth quarter.  You know that he regretted it, or he may never have tried for 80 against Toronto.  Please, he didn’t want the selfish label?  He ran the best center in twenty years out of town, and then ran one of the best coaches in basketball out as well.  All so he could take the leap to being the greatest of all time, and win on his own.  

I know I wrote an article about Ron Artest not caring about his image and that he should, and now I am saying that Kobe thinks too much about his, but somehow there are guys in the league who have found a happy medium to Kobe and Ron-Ron.  Kobe, in my opinion, has the `Be like Mike’ bug so bad that it has become his life’s ambition to be like 2-3.  You ever notice that they sound the same? That you could probably take the script from a Kobe interview and put all of his answers in with Michael’s and there be very little difference.  Check that out, it’s trippy.  

I’m all for second chances.  I could be wrong, it could be some terrible tragedy, but Kobe Bryant rubs me the wrong way.  Apparently I should stand in line.  I’ll never knock his talent or his determination to be the best, both of which are admirable.  He has spiraled from one the games most liked players, to one of the most despised.  Regardless of what most people think about him because of his ball-hogging, assault charges, and feuding with Shaq, the one thing that makes me cringe about him is that he is obsessed with being like Mike.

Statistics are all from NBA.com

One reply on “the Black Mamba”

love the title and kobe…sort of Agree with you on all points, but almost had to vote against it because of the WWE reference. As a Laker fan I never understood why Kobe just didn’t want to be like Magic instead of Mike. Win a few titles with Shaq watch him retire and then he has the Lakers all to himself and he becomes king of LA. But no he had to be an MJ clone just like everyone else. Good article.

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