Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Kobe's character sets him apart

In eight months’ time the National Basketball Association will bid ado Kobe “Black Mamba” Bryant, one of its most prolific athletes (and revenue generators) of all time.
I am going to forgo listing Kobe’s countless statistical feats, or his collar-ruffling career earnings, and skip to straight to the only comparison that truly matters; MJ versus Mamba.
As a lifelong Chicago Bulls fan, it is clear to me that Kobe Bryant is the only basketball player in history who truly deserves to be mentioned in the same sentence as the incomparable Air Jordan.
Championships, records, earnings, and endorsements are irrelevant. What has elevated these two all-timers above all other NBA greats is the ferocity at which they competed, and their unapologetic arrogance.
In practice, Jordan would play on one team for half of the scrimmage, and then switch teams for the second half. Why? Because not a single person could push Jordan harder than he could push himself. It is well documented that Kobe has been regularly found in the gym at three or four in the morning, dripping with sweat and forcing trainers out of bed to help him work on his jump shot.
Neither player paraded themselves as a perfect human being or a role model. They simply played basketball.
Jordan was a philandering, gambling addict who mercilessly trash-talked opponents, and assaulted teammates in practice for performing below his standards. Kobe Bryant, the once accused rapist, has publicly humiliated teammates in interviews, regularly ignored coaching staff, and even demanded trades in losing times.
Arrogance may be a character flaw to some, however, it is precisely what catapulted them to greatness.
Without arrogance Kobe would not have had the gall to take 46 shots in a single game. He would not have dreamed of demanding the last shot (every single time). You can also imagine he would not have called the future hall of fame center Shaquille O’Neal an idiot.
Still, after hearing the news, Shaq had only kind words to say about Kobe. It takes a very special person to be such a loathsome, unpleasant human being and still receive the unanimous respect of your peers.
Today, most players are wrapped up in a politically correct, family-appropriate package. LeBron’s PR team would have you believe he is the Mr. Rodgers of the NBA.
Athletes are not, and should not, be hailed as role models. The qualities that make a great player do no necessarily make a great human being.
Dennis Rodman has averaged 13 rebounds per game for his career and Wilt Chamberlain averaged 50 points a game in 1961. Would you let either of them near your children?
When remembering Kobe’s illustrious career some may want to focus on his blistering stat lines and accolades, skirting around what they consider to be a “poor” attitude.
But, we should absolutely focus on his attitude. Kobe was never phony, he didn’t play coy, and he certainly didn’t bend to anybody else’s will. His intolerability is the reason he will be forever in the conversation with Michael Jordan.
So please, reminisce correctly. Savor every offensive comment Kobe every said. Chances are we won’t see a player of his caliber again for a very long time.

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Kobe's character sets him apart