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May 10, 2006

From ESPN - On Kobe

Kobe Bryant is a lot of things (and most I cannot say here or around the ears of my young children). This was one of my favorite moments from Game 7. This was mid 3rd Quarter when Kobe's team was down 25 and the crowd was chanting "KOBE SUCKS". Uh, check scoreboard dude. ESPN sums it up:

He's been trying so hard to be someone else -- or someone else's version of who he should be -- that he isn't really anybody. From the outside, his words seem hollow and his actions seem borrowed.

When he got clotheslined by Raja Bell, he couldn't simply go to the line and make his free throws. He had to perform a little dust-off on his jersey and a finger-wag to let everyone know the attack was mere lint on a great man's lapel. It was so obviously staged you could almost see the gears turning. OK, I have to do something here …

It's probably crazy to call Kobe's act sad, but it comes off that way. His abilities should be able to stand alone. He's a better pure scorer -- a shotmaker, if that's a word -- than Jordan ever was, and I'd make that case to anybody willing to listen.

The problem is, he's not satisfied with that. He keeps trying to summon the charisma and integrity he doesn't possess, and the result is a guy who can't get out of his own way. He keeps trying to transcend the sport, when he should be content to dominate it.

I would make the argument that Kobe is the best player in the NBA. That is easy to make. Maybe Lebron approaches that level, but Kobe plays D and can score on anyone. But he lacks charisma and it is apparent in the locker room and with his teammates on the floor. His entire act is contrived, as if his entire personality is dictated by an agent or a sponsor or is built around trying to be marketable. He wants to be a tough guy for his imagemakers this year. Check. Likeable guy next year. Check. He is posing for the camera and trying to sell something.

We could be watching greatness and a guy who scores 81. A guy that can make shot after shot over two and three defenders. And he is all those things. What he is not is an endearing personality or a guy that people root for. Maybe Lakers fans do, but most Lakers fans still love Shaq. If Kobe left, would they love Kobe? Phoenix fans still love Chuck despite him heading to Houston and his fued with Jerry Colangelo. Bulls fans love Michael, despite him heading to Washington.

Kobe cupping his ear was if to say, I cannot hear the entire world unless they are telling me how great I am. Tune out everyone. Tune out your teammates. Tune out Phil. Buy your way out of everything.

I want to marvel at the greatest player in the NBA, but his personality is such that no one but the Laker fans could stand this guy. Lebron is a guy I root for. Shaq. Tim Duncan. I love Tim Duncan, even as a Suns fan. He exudes class. Kobe exudes "fake". He is a made for TV Movie. He lived a charmed life, yet has nothing on the inside. There is no heart of a champion. There is no soul. He is completely empty.

Posted by Justin at May 10, 2006 03:44 PM