By Vincent PAGE, intern
There is no argument that Kobe Bryant is one of the best basketball players ever. In my opinion, he is the best basketball player in my lifetime. Better than LeBron James, better than Tim Duncan, better than Dwayne Wade. Some people claim he always had someone else helping him on his road to success. That’s true; he had Shaq, Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom in their primes. But having superstars next to him did not matter when Steve Nash and Dwight Howard took their talents to the bright lights of Los Angeles. If anything, those two may have dragged him down.
There is no player in the history of the NBA that could guard Bryant one-on-one. If they are stronger, he’ll hit a jumper. If they’re faster, he’ll post them up and hit his fadeaway that made him famous. He is the best scorer in the history of the NBA, not only for his statistics, but also because of his clutch moments. Leading five different Lakers teams to championships? That requires immense amounts of grit and playing well in the clutch. The entire finals series requires players to be at their best the entire time. The three-pointer that he banked in to win the game against the Heat was one of the best things I have ever seen in the sport. Speaking of scoring: 81 points? That’s more impressive than the 100 scored by Wilt Chamberlain. The talent back when The Stilt played was far less than the talent Bryant dropped all those points on.
Then there is the type of teammate he has been. This is a controversial matter, for most teammates who left Bryant don’t have the greatest feelings for him (calling Dwight Howard to the witness stand). However, maybe it is because Bryant demands the most out of all teammates, and those who did leave because of him simply were used to being the star of the show – or spoiled brats. Howard was the king of the castle in Orlando, and was treated as one. When he came to L.A. his expectations from the fans and especially Bryant were sky-high, and he just could not produce. Howard, now in Houston, has shown no signs of toughness since and is always complaining about something.
Bryant has been shown walking out of practice on multiple occasions, but that is understandable. Imagine being a veteran on a rebuilding team, giving it your all at practice, and just not getting the same out of the youngsters you are trying to make great. That would be incredibly frustrating, and Bryant walking out was probably the best thing he could have done. If I was a rookie playing against the best of all time, and he told me I was not giving it my all, I would listen to him, and trust him.
That is Bryant the basketball player. Bryant the person is a whole different story. Everyone knows about the rape accusation. If that were true, I would never speak a kind word of him again. But to my knowledge, it is not; therefore I cannot fault him on it. If I believed all accusations, I would not be a fan of Ben Roethlisberger, Ray Lewis or any of the other greats that had some off-field situations. Bryant was never really great to his fans, though, and I believe he took them for granted.
It is obvious that Bryant demands respect as a basketball player, as he has been the best player of the century. However, most people would rather see him on television playing, or possibly coaching in the future, than have lunch with the guy.