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Westsider Rider

Monday, May 22, 2006

Damned if you do, Damned if you don't

Scoop Jackson wrote a good article on this topic which has brought me to write about it as well since it concerns my favorite basketball player, check it out if you haven't Kobe caught in hoops purgatory. This is a topic I've been discussing with my friends recently with the Lakers ending the season the way they did and how the media has covered Kobe. Right now LeBron James is in the position that Kobe was a few years back, he is the media darling and everyone loves him which is part of the reason why I didn't want Cleveland to advance too far because then the media would constantly talk about how great LeBron did and how Kobe couldn't do that with his team. For now, LeBron is the favorite and we will see how long this continues since we all know the media will be ready to get on him as soon as something messes up. Months back when Allen Iverson was on Quite Frankly with Stephen A. Smith he said he told LeBron that he has to watch out because as soon as he messes up the media would be on him and turn on him just like that, much like it has happened to Kobe.

If you look at Games 6 and 7 against Phoenix this situation is portrayed clearly. In Game 6, Kobe dropped 50 and the Lakers lost, the media was on him about how he shot too much and how that was a big reason why they lost. Then in Game 7 he scores 24 and his team loses but this time he didn't shoot enough. Unfairly, Kobe is most always blamed with the Lakers problems and how he isn't Jordan. Even Kobe himself does not like being compared to MJ and as he said on TNT "I handle the ball more [than Jordan] … the only similarities I see are our competitiveness … we're different, we're just different."

Unfortunately, after the Colorado situation everything changed for Kobe. People tried to play the morality card and lost respect for him for cheating on his wife. Granted it's not something one should do and I'm not trying to excuse him from it but if that's the case then you can't root for pretty much 95% of the NBA, Shaq, Magic Johnson and even Jordan have cheated on their wives. Jordan didn't live in the information age that we do today where people were able to find pictures of Kobe's accuser immediately following the news breaking.

No matter what happens for the rest of his career he will always have this double standard where nothing he does can be right. But I have faith that Kobe will bring the Lakers another championship and that will be the best one of them all because that will finally show all the haters that "he only won with Shaq," as many try to point out. Everyone must remember Shaq never won a title without Kobe, considering how dominant he was and supposed to be Shaq only won with #8 on his side, he never did it with Penny and has yet to, and I don't believe he will with D Wade.

Scoop makes a great point that Kobe started to emerge as Jordan was finishing is career so that people naturally tried to make the comparison:

"But the fact that Kobe came into the L on the heels of Jordan's second exodus -- and being so Jordanesque at the time -- human nature alone makes us connect him to Jordan like Bapes to Air Force Ones, Ask.com to Google, Chris Brown to Usher, Dime to Slam."
and continues on about this past season as Kobe had a statistically similar season to Jordan in 86-87 but his team performed better yet he's still called selfish:

"It's funny when they reminisce over you inside of a paradox like this, because no one mentioned how that season the Bulls played under-.500 basketball (40-42, fifth in their division, 17 games out of first place) and how they got swept in the first round by Boston, yet Kobe got the Lakers to play over-.500 ball (45-37, third in their division, nine games from first) and push the Suns to a "win or go home" game in the first round … and he gets dogged. Or how Michael came in second in MVP voting that year to Magic, yet Kobe came in fourth this year, fifth in the general managers voting poll.

Yet, they basically had the exact same statistical season.
MJ,'86-87: 37.1 ppg/5.2 rpg/4.6 apg
KB, '05-06: 35.4 ppg/5.3 rpg/4.5 apg

Yet, Kobe's season is being held against him."
As Kobe's #1 fan I didn't think it would end up like this as he is one of the most hated players in the Game and being compared to Barry Bonds in surveys for hated and distrusted athletes. Bonds is on a completely different level considering he is a cheater who has broken the rules of the game to get to where he's at. But part of me loves the haters, probably close to as much as Kobe himself does because people doubt him and when he succeeds it makes it that much sweeter. I know a lot of people don't like Scoop's writing but the closing of this article pretty much sums up everything I've been saying since the mid to end of this season. Kobe's in a no-win situation no matter he does but I'll let Scoop finish it out:

"His career is Jordan's in reverse. Win early, struggle late. But Jordan never had to go through this. Never had to deal with this type of scrutiny, never had to deal with this type of hate, never had to come on national television to discuss why he did what he did in the second half of a ball game that was lost at halftime.

In a season that was lost the minute the ref tossed up the ball in the very first game.

Unfortunately for Kobe, you can only play basketball to win.

The game that is his life has slowly become a no-win situation."


  • I agree with you, Kobe is probably unfairly maligned at times, by many many people (sometimes me). He is unquestionably brilliant on the court, it's just that unfortunately he carries that baggage. But I think more than anything, the media is fickle. If Kobe can win a championship minus Shaq, I think that you'll see them come back on the bandwagon and he'll go down in history on par with Jordan. Otherwise, we'll just have to see how it plays out. Nice post by the way.

    By Blogger Passion of the Weiss, at 8:58 PM  

  • Good work on this, Kenny. I think a lot of the reason Kobe is kept from that exclusive Jordan-strata just has a lot to do with bad timing. Jordan marketing his excellence and athleticism was rare and made him seem exalted and above everyone. Now, it's commonplace. It kind of kept a place in the basketball heavens warm for him till his success actually earned it. Jeff is right; Kobe wins one and he'll probably have a place in history similar to Jordan's.

    By Blogger Johnny, at 5:45 PM  

  • Thanks guys, this is just something that had been bothering me of late. I do understand why many hate him but its just crazy how everything has changed so much since the incident in Colorado. The other part of it probably has to do with the misconception that Kobe drove Shaq out of LA which is completely untrue, it was a business decision made by Dr. Buss and the right one, IMO because Miami will be regretting having Shaq on the books for that much money in a year or two.

    By Blogger Kenny, at 8:08 AM  

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