Thursday, May 03, 2007

Poor Kobe

Over the years I've been labeled a "Kobe Hater." This is the tag slapped on everyone who doesn't swoon at the sight of all things Kobe Bryant. So I'm prepared for everyone to accuse me of having an agenda or a bias or whatever, but I'm still going to rip him.

He had a great year and I thought he availed himself pretty well in the Suns series, even if he looked worn down in fourth quarters. What bothers me is that he's whining about his supporting cast in the aftermath. Here's why:

1. This is Kobe's own fault. Not so long ago, he was playing on a team that had won three titles and reached four Finals in five years. He had the best coach, the best center, and a host of players willing to aid Shaq and Kobe in all tasks big and small. But Bryant didn't want to play for Phil, he didn't want to play with Shaq, and he gave Jerry Buss an ultimatum: them or me. So Shaq got traded, Phil resigned, and L.A. became Kobe's town. He got exactly what he wanted.

2. He had a chance to go elsewhere. He's not KG; a guy that signed a big extension back when the team was on the rise and then got marooned by a cheating, inept GM. Bryant had the chance to sign with any bidder at a time when the Lakers were clearly going to blow for a few years. Phoenix courted him, the Clippers did everything they could to bring him to the other Staples Center locker room ... but in the end, he went for the extra dollars and the vaunted purple and gold. I'm not saying he made the wrong decision, as he was entitled to do whatever he wanted, but it was HIS decision. The Clippers and Suns were both obvious choices if he wanted to win. So I have no sympathy.

Granted, Cup-Check could have made some better moves in the last few years. Radmonovich was a bad signing, trading Butler for Kwame was moronic, and the decision not to deal Bynum for Kidd was certainly costly in the short run (and maybe the long run, because if you ask me, Bynum is more of the Next Elden Campbell than the Next Shaq). But nearly every GM makes shaky moves. The bottom line is that Kobe broke up a team that had just gone to the Finals and then passed on a chance to sign with a team with a better infrastructure.

So, sorry, but I don't feel that bad for him.


Anonymous said...

The sports world has an incredibly short memory. I am shocked that anyone even remembers that way he blew up that team. Of course, having Shaq wouldn't exactly be a big help these days.

Tim said...

This certainly wasn't pro-Kobe, but I thought it was pretty restrained. I can't decide if Kobe is screwed because he's in a ongoing Catch-22 or if the media actually takes it easy on him because they fear being slapped with that Kobe hater label. If someone like Ray Allen started bitching about getting some help, he would be raked through the coals.

Adam Hoff said...

I think he gets quite a bit of abuse, but that stems from his personality and track record. In my opinion, he's always been contrived and alienating, so it is no surprise that he's become a polarizing figure. He's a little bit like Barry Bonds - a ridiculous talent and performer, but with enough issues that now he "can't win" no matter what he does. On this issue though, I think it is pretty clear that he shouldn't be complaining about a situation largely of his own making.

Anonymous said...

While I think him giving the ultimatum doesn't really help the organization make any moves and he did play a part in the death of the dynasty, I think saying he didn't want to play with shaq without acknowledging that shaq didn't want to play with Kobe (which is why SHAQ demanded a max contract while STILL under contract in Kobe's free agent year) is at best just an oversight on your part and at worst an oppurtunity to bash Kobe. the fact that you prefaced this with a disclaimer that people call you a hater, it would be hard for me to not believe the latter.

Again, I think Kobe's being a little overdramatic with this patience thing. But he could be KG - making guys like yourself feel bad for him by "suffering" making 20 million a year when he could easily demand a trade to a contender.

Adam Hoff said...

I guess I should have added the word "largely" to the sentance "it is Kobe's fault," but other than that, I don't feel the need to change any of that. Shaq demanded a max deal but he didn't demand that Kobe be dealt, nor did he use impending free agency as a way to run Kobe out of town. Maybe his intent was the same and maybe if he had been a free agent he would have done the same thing. But as my high school coach used to say, "if ifs and buts were candy and nuts, we'd all have a Merry Christmas." Shaq handled the situation with far more tact (spin?) and therefore came off looking better. Kobe came off as the guy that used free agency as a way to threaten the organization and get what he wanted. So he's still responsible for his current situation, whether it is fair or not. And besides, that is only part of the story. He also had the chance to go play with Amare and Marion in Phoenix or with Brand and Co. across the arena and he decided not to. Totally his choice, but he had his shot. He wanted the Lakers to be "his team" so he could show the world what he could do; that he could win by himself. That hasn't worked out and now he wants help. I just don't feel bad for him. It is easy to look back now (especially that Shaq looks about 50 years old) and spread blame around, since there was definitely a feud. But the fact of the matter is that Bryant had the leverage and he used it to the fullest. Then he used the Clippers as bargaining power, strung them along to the final hour, and re-upped with the Lakers for max dollars and a solo starring role. He may not have exactly what he wants right this minute, but what he has is a result of him getting exactly what he wanted in the summer of 2004.

I don't understand the last point. What is the difference between Kobe and KG right now? They are both playing for crap teams with crap GM's, making huge dollars, and asking for help while not demanding trades. Seems exactly the same. Are you suggesting that Kobe can't demand a trade? That he should? I don't get it.