Kobe Bryant, in a recent Facebook post, attempted to address a mini controversy (if you can call it that at this point) by explaining his method of leadership and the negative image it brings at times. The origin of the controversy Kobe indirectly spoke to can be found in his comments about his former teammate, Smush Parker. Bryant referred to Parker as “the worst,” declared that Smush shouldn’t have been in the NBA, and cited Smush, Kwame Brown, and Chris Mihm as the reason for losing the MVP to Steve Nash during the 2004-05 season.
After reading the comments, a question that has always been in my mind resurfaced: Is Kobe Bryant’s perceived arrogance just a by-product of his over competitiveness and drive, or is he just plain old mean and condescending?
To some NBA fans Kobe’s comments were just another example of his egoistic ways both on and off the court. Smush Parker himself didn’t take too lightly to Kobe’s comments, as he responded on Hard 2 Guard radio station on BlogTalk Radio.
“What I don’t like about him is the man that he is. His personality. How he treats people. I don’t like that side of Kobe Bryant.”
“Basketball is a team sport. It is team-oriented. It is not an individual sport. It’s not tennis or golf, it is a team sport. When you are the star of the team, you have to make your teammates feel comfortable. You have to make them feel welcome. And he did not do that at all.” – Smush Parker
To other fans (mainly Laker fans), the comments were viewed as funny, trite, or Michael Jordan-esque.
To me, it is just Kobe being, well…Kobe.
Over the course of his 17-year career, Kobe has been known as a brash, arrogant, cocky, while he has alienated many fans and players alike. On too many occasions, Kobe is surly and steel-faced on the court, and can seen berating his teammates on camera or in the arena. But one thing has remained constant over almost two decades: Kobe Bean Bryant doesn’t care about anyone thinks as long as he is remembered a “winner.” And winning is what he has done by amassing 5 championship rings and countless awards that have reserved him a special place in the NBA history.
Personally, I’d rather a leadership approach that a Steve Nash takes in which he chooses encouragement over yelling, high-fives over clenched fists, and forgiveness over grudges. But hey, everyone is different and handles situations in different ways, so I won’t knock Kobe too much. However, I would rather Kobe keeps his words to himself in certain occasions. After all, even if Kobe kept to himself more often, he wouldn’t somehow lose his unparalleled desire to be great.
Something I have found interesting, though, is that Kobe goes on these rants only when it involves players who have had a history of being lazy or someone who doesn’t match his own drive (Shaq, Smush, and countless others). On the other hand, players whom Bryant respects, such as Lamar Odom, Derrick Rose, and Chris Paul, he reserved compliments for.
At the end of the day, Kobe is going to be Kobe, which should be very interesting considering the players he has on his team this year. The response Bryant’s teammates have towards his heavy-handed leadership approach will go a long way in whether or not the Lakers can win a championship.
Written By Javeen Rob
Follow Javeen on Twitter: @JJRob15