Kobe Bryant – A Social-Anomaly In Sports

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Kobe Bryant

 

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 Kobe Bryant is the most intriguing social-outcast in Los Angeles Sports history.   Seldom will you run into a player who has so much success and yet is so detested by his own hometown crowd.   People from various walks of life dislike Kobe. You talk to the average L.A. resident and you’ll often hear casual fans say, “I used to like the Lakers, but I just can’t stand Kobe.”  Women specially dislike Kobe, and I used to think it was due to his rape trial, but then I learned, it wasn’t even that.  

Many women will concede that it’s possible that was an extortion plot to milk some money out of a rich athelete superstar, so they’re not angry about the rape trial.  It just seems that their sixth sense/intuition tells them that this guy can be a bit of scumbag.  It is an anomaly to see an athlete so dislike in his own hometown, sometimes by the very fans of the team he plays for.

 Kobe is the exact opposite of Magic Johnson whom everyone loves.  Magic is an anomaly in that he breaks color barriers.  Regardless of whether someone is White, Black, Asian or Eskimo, they can identify with Magic. Think about it and you’ll find it to be true.  You don’t see Magic as a “Black guy” or this or that.  You just see him as a good guy you’d like to meet.  Perhaps that’s the way it should always be, but clearly, it’s not how things unfold in the real world.

Magic appeals to the non-basketball fan.  Kobe is detested by that same non-basketball fan despite his attempts to appear as the nice sweet caring family man.  Somehow, there is a voice in your mind that screams, “Hey, Kobe, I am NOT buying this act you’re putting on!”

  Which brings it to ME: The Los Angeles Lakers Fanatic. 

In 20 plus year as a Laker Fan, never have I been so frustrated watching a superstar that played for my team.

 Kobe has been the best player in basketball for years.  You can make a case for Lebron being better now (and I’d agree) , but then, you’d still have Kobe at a very close 2nd best player in the entire league.

To me, the game of basketball’s objective is simple: 

  • Offense: Get as many high-percentage shots as you can. 
  • Defense: Prevent other team from high percentage shot attempts. Force them into low percentage shots.

That’s all the game of basketball is when you break it down to its most simple component.  Sometimes, it really is that simple.

So, when you watch a game, (and when it’s done properly within a team concept, it’s beautiful to watch,) you’ll see Pick’n Rolls, Give & Gos, Weak Side Picks, Backdoor cuts on the baseline off of those weakside screens….. all designed for one purpose: To get you a high percentage shot: Preferably a “Layup” or a “Slam-Dunk” from 2 feet away.

 Which is why as a Laker fan, it’s so frustrating to watch Kobe single handedly throw games away shooting the ball 13 for 34, losing the games.  It’s not just that he shoots the ball poorly, but that attitude and selfishness deflates his teammates.  They’re no longer willing to move around on offense because what’s the point?  “The Jackass isn’t going to pass anyway.”

They’re not going to hustle back on transition defense because they’re disgusted with the state of the game.  This is what Kobe doesn’t get, or maybe he does.  I am sure he does get it, but he doesn’t care.  It’s apathy.
       

Jerry West - The Logo

 


 A (very) brief history on the Lakers

  As a kid, I grew up watching NBA basketball in its golden age.  Magic, Kareem, Worthy, Cooper, and company versus Bird, McHale, Parish and Co.  I could watch Magic score a mere 12 points in a game and completely control the tempo and “Feel” of of the game.  It’s hard to explain or grasp on paper.  It has to be watched and seen.

 In High School, I got my hands on every piece of basketball literature I could find.  I’d read about the older teams and study Laker History in particular.  I’d read about George Mikan in the Minneapolis Lakers to Jerry West.

  I’d learn about how Wilt Chamberlain, one of the greatest physical specimen’s to set foot on a basketball court also had just as big a ego to match.  I’d learn how the man who average 50 points per game for an entire season put his scoring aside when he joined the Lakers and Jerry West.  He focused on defense, rebounding and passing the ball.   In the 71-72 season, Lakers won the championship (not to mention 33 games in a row) with Wilt scoring only 15 points a game on 9.3 shot attempts as he average 19.2 rebounds.   (Jerry West and Goodrich each average 26 pts per game that season.) 

 He put his ego aside to win.  That’s the Lakers’ way, and the way it’s always been.  People seem to put ego aside when they join this franchise because they know winning comes first.  Bob McAdoo is another such example, a problem player league MVP who finally found a home with the Lakers.

  The end of last season, the NBA officially finished its 60th year anniversary.  In those 60 years, the Lakers have been in the Playoffs for 56 of them, 30 times to the finals, with 15 championships to show for it.  They’ve been to half the finals and have won 25% of the championships.

In 60 Years, 56 Playoff Appearances, 30 NBA Finals, 15 Championships for the Lakers.

 Because the organization historically, from top to bottom, is about winning, not about indiviual accolades.

  Which brings us to one Kobe Bean Bryant, the man who is all about himself.  The man who has not one, but TWO starting 7 footers who can play the low-post to dominate, but still can’t get himself to run a team offense.

  Watch the games, specially in the 4th quarter:  There are times when Kobe dribbles up the court and you know damn well, he has absolutely no interest in passing it.  He decided he is going to shoot before he got to the half court line and nothing is going to get in his way.  It won’t matter how terrible of a shot he takes, he is going to do it anyway.


 

  This is the Kobe WE [The Lakers fan] are stuck with.  The same Kobe who makes spectacular buzzer beaters is the one who is going to lose games because he wants to make the game a “Playground” game at times.   You take the bad with the good.  He can’t just give us the good.  His self-absorption is too great for that. 

 One thing needs to be said for that.  What a lot of casual fans don’t fathom is that if Kobe has orchestrated a little better, there’d be no need for those last second buzzer beaters.  They’d be up by double digits at the end of the game.  The fact that they’re in that position to need a buzzer-beater at home versus a mediocre team  is also often times due to Kobe’s ulra self-absorption.  It’s frustrating to watch games and not see professional analysts and commentators not mention this. 

 This is why we lost the recent game at Cleveland.  Kobe consistently loses games to Lebron because he wants to have a 1 on 1 battle.  In the first quarter, they ran the offense properly and had a 12 point lead.  In the 4th, Kobe needed to prove, he can score.  We know he can score.  He averaged 35points per game for a whole season, not to mention 81 points in a single game. 

 Kobe has Gasol, Bynum, and Odom off of the bench. Lebron has mostly bums and a fat sloth named Shaquille.   Lebron has to try to force the issue.  Kobe Doesn’t.  Lebron does not have what Kobe has: A strong supporting cast.  Yet, Lebron does his best to encourage his teammates.  Kobe annoys them! 

 Watching a recent game at Madison Square Garden drove me crazy.  So much so, that I went back, rewatched the 4th quarter, and wrote down what took place on every single possession in the Laker offense:

LA @ NY.    Jan 22nd, 2010

4th Quarter Laker offense:

-11:49  Gasol goes to the line to shoot Free-Throws

-11:21  Kobe free throw.  Note:  Kobe fouled on a back-door cut from a screen.  Pass from Gasol playing high post)

-10:45  Odom hits 15ft baseline jumper- Pass from Kobe’s drive & kick

-10:19 Kobe hits jumper off of 1 on 1 move, hand in his face. 

-9:44  Kobe Misses forced jumper from 1 on 1 move. Odom rebounds, passes to Kobe.

-9:28  Kobe Misses another jumper, forced 1 on 1 move from baseline this time

-8:50 Shannon Brown makes a 3-pointer

-7:59 Odom makes open jumper. Pass from a Double-teamed Gasol.

-7:36  Gasol Posts up & makes Shot

-7:09  Brown Misses 3-point attempt.  Odom another Offensive board

-7:04  Gasol tips in Odom’s offensive board tip in attempt

-6:36 Kobe Misses 3-point shot

-6:12 Kobe forces it.  Called for Offensive Foul

-5:35 Gasol travels on what would have been easy lay up

:5:10  Kobe shoots free throws, after being bailed out by refs

-4:30  Kobe makes a 3-pointer off of Gasol Double-Team

-4:03: Gasol post up. Beautiful spin move. Bucket + foul

-3:32: Kobe blatantly ignores Gasol posting up.  Misses 3-pointer badly.  I yell profanities out-loud at Kobe on this possession. 

-3:07 Gasol shoots free throws- Open in post.

-2:25 Kobe never considers passing to anyone in this possession.  Shoots free throws after refs bail him out on a horrible drive

-1:52 Kobe misses another jumber- Off board to Lakers.

-1:19  Kobe misses lay up off in bounds pass.

-00:40  Kobe airballs a very deep 3-pointer.

  • Recap of 4the quarter: 

Gasol makes 3 baskets, and also attempts 5 free throws.

Odom, and Kobe make shots off of Gasol double-teams.

Kobe: 2 for 7 shooting.1 offensive foul.

Kobe: Shoots 6 free throws. (4 of which were bail outs he may not get in a playoff game.)

  • Final line for the entire game:

Kobe shoots: 8 for 24, an unflattering 33.33%

Pao Gasol shoots: 7 for 10   

Andrew Bynum shoots: 7 for 11  

Gasol & Bynum combine for a total of 14 out of 21.   67% – Shooting percentage, (not to mention GOOD Things happen when they get double teamed in the post.) Stats do not tell the whole story here.  When your post player gets double-teamed, it leads to over all good fuzzy-feeling things on the court. 


 

 This is the Kobe we’ve got.  We need him on the team to win the championship, and yet we can’t get over that he is selfish, self-absorbed individual only out for himself.  Some people say Michael Jordan was the same way, but then again, Jordan is also well known for being a douchebag (and he never played for the Lakers, so I don’t care.) You can also make the case that Jordan had stiffs as big men.  He never has a Shaq in his prime, and never had two solid post-men in Gasol & Bynum. 

 A simpleton may yell out: “But Kobe wins.”  This is true, but he wins because he is on teams that have by far the most talent in the league.  Magic & Kareem could not have beaten formidable competion against the Celtics or the 76ers playing self-absorbed ball.  They had to involve every essence of team, and even then, it was tough. 

 Kobe’s championship teams have by far the most talent in the league.  This year in particular, anything less than a championship is a failure for the Lakers.  And yet, as a Laker fan, you’re worried……..   You’re worried about that playoff series where the series stands at 2 games to 1, and in that pivotal 4th game, the series can either be tied 2-2, or one team can go up 3-1.  The series’ fate can be determined in this game crucial game. 

During that Game, will Kobe decide to take 35 shots, forcing bad shots, and neglecting his two talented post-up big men in Gasol and Bynum?  Will Kobe’s desire to be Mr. Hero be greater than his desire to want to win the game?  This is what’s frustrating with Kobe.  You admire that he is by far the hardest worker in all of the NBA, and that he is so focused.   Without him playing, we don’t have a chance of winning the championship.  Yet, he drives you crazy with his selfishness. 

 That is the essence of Kobe.  He is the poison you’re stuck with.  Will he administer the poison to the opposition or to our own team?