Spurs vs. Lakers, get your Kobe hatin’ on

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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 Lakers’ 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 us who don’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 “z”.

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 win—both of which are within the realm of possibilities—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 “clutchness” 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. Abbott’s piece inspired many thoughtful responses around the blog community, but far too often the discussion ended on the feedback front with a simple “because he’s the best player” or “you’re just a hater”. Bryant himself would tell you to simply kiss his ass. It’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 world—right at the backend of Tim Duncan’s prime and just before LeBron James ascended to his current lofty heights.

 That’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 he’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’.

  • Eman

    Bryant is a cacahead. Eat my delicious caca.

  • http://caca.com Eman

    Bryant likes to eat my mocos too!

  • rj

    as i stated in the ewing-duncan article, kobe will not age well. i expect more 30+ games and laker losses as the future roles on due to his denial of his diminishing skills. he threw down 2 transition, uncontested monster jams against sacramento. wouldn’t an aging player realize he is better off saving his energy and legs going for a layup? hell, rj ( not to be confused with my personal initials) doesn’t jam hard anymore and that is how he made his career. despite kobe’s greatness, i don’t see a whole lot of maturity when it counts.

  • ausitnspur

    I hatez kobe tonz

  • http://www.bpifanconnect.com Alix Babaie

    Eman, you are one sick puppy.

  • agutierrez

    Good analysis. You are particularly on point is saying that Kobe lovers never acknowledge that even his harshest critics always point out his greatness. I mean, who the hell in his right mind would even question that?
    To RJ: I would quibble only to say, he’s already not aging well. As the article referenced pointed out, he’s not nearly as clutch as conventional wisdom (and Nike commercials) would have us believe. The dissension within the Lakers organization, including not only Artest and Gasol’s thinly veiled complaints but also Jerry West’s statement that the Lakers are “getting old” (who do you really think he was referring to, surely not Fisher, who is easily replaceable in their offense), that dissension is directly related to Kobe’s selfishness and the fact that his own teammates recognize that he is not getting it done like he used to. Long story short: he will go down as one of the all-time greats but also one who did not know how to downshift that declining greatness for the benefit of his team (see: Duncan, Tim; Robinson, David).

  • http://www.bpifanconnect.com Alix Babaie

    Now, as far as the subject of KB24 is concerned, he is a great player, a supreme scorer but a horrible teammate.

    Give me Manu Ginobili any day of the week. Creative scorer, superb player and a team first guy who looks to get the other guys in silver and black involved in the game!

  • DorieStreet

    Whichever side and to what degree NBA fans choose to opine regarding #8/#24, there’s no denying the skills he has displayed, the competitiveness that has driven him, and the accomplishments in his career. The way he has gone about it is not unique (others have done it in similar fashion) but it has been front & center for so long (15 seasons & counting) that it has captured and polarized the sports masses of two generations. The current storyline-his quest for a 2nd threepeat (and all the angst/drama with it) goes on tonight, and for the next 4 months. Stay tuned.

  • Gebo

    Room service.

  • FaridK

    First, off let me say I am a huge Kobe fan. Not because he can score in bunches, throw down insane dunks (or used to be able to anyways) but because if you look over his career you see his greatness doesn’t just come from his natural athletic abilities but because of his desire to be the best and his competitiveness. That is why I personally do not like hearing Kobe basher’s pick on his short comings. Also because every player in the NBA has come short of their goals. As for the aging part, though his transition hasn’t been smooth long time Kobe fan’s will notice the difference in his game to make up for his aging, such as his use footwork rather than just jumping higher than the defender. Note* NBA guards also have a tougher time with aging than say, NBA bigs due to the athletic nature of the position where as bigs can rely more towards size and strength. I am going to end this novel saying that Kobe is clutch because he, more so than any other player can come up with high efficiency shot either for himself or his teammates. He may not win the award for greatest teammate ever especially during the Shaq-Kobe era but he did not have adequate teammates from 05-08 and throughout the course of his career has improved on his play making abilities. Lastly I want to apologize for writing such a long post but I can talk about Kobe’s justification as one of the greatest players ever for a long, long time.

  • Jacob

    Hahahahaha @ all the “haterz” kids. Every time I see a person get butt-hurt over a Kobe comment, it reminds me of Stewie Griffin’s reaction when he gets kicked off American idol tryouts. A bunch a whiny little babies.

  • Ed

    I sum it up like this: As a watcher of basketball there is no denying KobMe’s talent. As a fan of basketball and a human being I don’t wish to ever see him play for MY team. I could not root for him under any circumstances.

  • http://www.48minutesofhell.com Len

    Now this is one superb article.

    It is the kind of article that Bill Simmons wants to write but always comes up a little short.

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