Kobe Bryant is a lot of things.
He is a great scorer, a five time champion, and a legend. He still has the ability to completely take control of a game, even at the age of 36. Bryant is also a once in a lifetime talent because it will be hard for the Lakers to find someone like him for the next decade-plus. What seems to surprise the sports world is all of the things that Kobe Bryant is not.
As he passes the greatest player of all time on the NBA scoring list, Bryant is acting the same as he always would. He claims that he doesn’t think about putting up more points than Michael Jordan, but instead grills teammates in practice. “Shoot! Shoot!” he yells at Jeremy Lin during practice, “This m-----f----- don’t got s---.” NBA fans won’t see LeBron James and Kevin Durant acting this way. Later, in an obvious attempt to gain an endorsement from a certain paper towel brand, Bryant yells, “You m-----f------ are soft like Charmin,” at his teammates. Bryant concluded the act by telling general manager Mitch Kupchak, “These m-----f------ ain’t doing s--- for me.” Kobe Bryant doesn’t usually practice, but when he does he makes his presence known.
Despite an interesting practice, no one was calling out Bryant for what he was saying. It brings out the best in the practice when you’re going at it like that,” said Nick Young, who responded to Bryant’s trash talk with a bit of his own. Head coach Byron Scott didn’t mind either; “I just think he did a great job of getting everyone else fired up. He’s always fired up.”
Kobe Bryant is not normal. Many are passionate about playing basketball, but few live basketball. Bryant lives basketball. His obsession with victory is out of this world. Practices like this explain who he is. A normal viewer of that video could easily proclaim that he is an awful teammate. Not many others would contest that. Teammates that would say this would find themselves with a one way ticket to anywhere but Los Angeles. As Michael Jordan once said, “You don’t get no apologies in this business.” Bryant is constantly frustrated by not having teammates around him that want to win as much as he does. Jeremy Lin is not Derek Fisher. Jordan Hill is not Shaquille O’Neal. The times have changed, but Bryant still is inexplicably expecting a championship team.
Is Bryant what every basketball players should be? No. While he is a phenomenal player, too much about him should not be replicated. He does push teammates very well, but he is also selfish. He is not always a team player and this has caused the Lakers to struggle to bring in the right players in recent years. A younger Bryant was good for the Lakers and basketball, but something changed in the early 2000’s. It has seemed like ever since O’Neal was traded by the Lakers, things have been done by how Kobe has wanted them to be. This is not healthy for any organization. Things have gotten progressively worse in Los Angeles since they won it all in 2010 and Bryant is still on contract for next season.
It’s rare that players like Bryant come along but perhaps this is good. He has won five championships, but has placed the Lakers in a tough spot for the past few years with his declining health and play. Truth be told, it’s impossible to understand Bryant. Perhaps the only person that can do that is Michael Jordan. Fans and media have strived for decades to figure out who exactly Jordan is, but they cannot. No two players have been more alike in NBA history.