Spurs vs. Lakers, get your Kobe hatin’ on
Kobe Bryant as the best player in the world is a matter of strong debate. Bryant as the most polarizing figure in the NBA has long been settled.
Around the internet there are two loud factions in regards to the Los Angeles Lakersâ€™ Kobe Bryant: There are those that see him as the best player in the NBA, with any questions asked being an insult to the game of basketball and life in general. And then there are the rest of usÂ who donâ€™t use the Caps Lock feature on our keyboards to strike home a point or pluralize various forms of the word hate with the letter â€œzâ€.
And at the risk of subjecting the comments section to the latter, or looking bad tomorrow after Bryant has dropped 40 on the Spurs in a Lakers winâ€”both of which are within the realm of possibilitiesâ€”I will say this: there are other players to be more feared by Spurs fans (though not many), and many of the criticisms of Bryant have been both justified and well represented.
The problem with debating Kobe Bryant is there is no debating Kobe Bryant. There is no middle ground from which to start a healthy dialogue. Any attempt to do so falls on blind eyes or deaf ears.
Last week Henry Abbott lit up the basketball corner of the internet with some insightful commentary on the â€œclutchnessâ€ of Kobe Bryant. It was not a personal attack on Bryant or basketball, but merely questioning an answer that too often goes unquestioned. Why should we accept Bryant as the most clutch player in the NBA?
All great discussions start from simple questions, and the willingness to open oneself up to such questions. Abbottâ€™s piece inspired many thoughtful responses around the blog community, but far too often the discussion ended on the feedback front with a simple â€œbecause heâ€™s the best playerâ€ or â€œyouâ€™re just a haterâ€. Bryant himself would tell you to simply kiss his ass. Itâ€™s enough to drive Kelly Dwyer mad.
But understand, none of the people that professionally critique Kobe Bryant actually hate him as a basketball player. They simply question.
Because 6-for-24 on that kind of stage, with that much talent surrounding him, on those kind of shots, should be questioned. In my own response to Bryant and clutch I took a stab at why NBA types would constantly vote for Bryant in such situations despite so much evidence to the contrary. I should have clarified that the stance was my best guess as to why people constantly opt for Bryant instead of my own personal opinion.
Just because one can create a shot at any time does not mean he should do so.
Any reasonable critique of Bryant starts with acknowledging his greatness (this is usually the part ignored by Bryant fans when reading such posts). The man is the best shooting guard of the post-Jordan era hands down.
His stint as the best player, on the other hand, is far more short-lived than people think. From 2006-2008, Bryant was probably the best basketball player in the worldâ€”right at the backend of Tim Duncanâ€™s prime and just before LeBron James ascended to his current lofty heights.
Â Thatâ€™s still pretty damn good and to take it further I will allow for this praise: Kobe Bryant is probably the most skilled player in the history of basketball. In terms of offensive weapons and defensive ingenuity, hell, even Jordan was not quite as adept in creating as many shots in so many different ways as Bryant.
The rub, of course, is Jordan never had to. When he finally put everything together Jordan was able to work within the offense to find simple shots. Bryant grasps this concept as well, but too often he simply chooses to ignore it.
At the heart and soul of it, every blacktop or gym across the country has that one guy who is in every pickup game but never has to call next. Usually heâ€™s the most talented player on the floor and competes hard every game, but because his status no one questions why his team loses when he fails on a flurry of ill-advised shots.
And because he knows he has a spot in the next game, he rarely has a conscience for teammates who will have to wait several games before taking another crack at it because his ill-conceived shots.
There are certainly worse things for Bryant to be. He could, for example, be the varsity basketball player that takes his talents (along with his teammates) to the lesser courts to gang up on the unsuspecting future NBA bloggers chucking bricks and gasping for air between coast to coast free throw line floaters.
But then, that’s just me hatin’.