What They Called For
One thing I hate is when blogs, especially ours, turn into a 'respond to the other guys'-fest. It's like a really bad post-colonial literature class, where everything you read, you're told, is in response to "the other" or the more empowered party or some bullshit like that. And you can't just appreciate what you read for what it is, in isolation. All that aside, "the other guys," namely ESPN's The Sports Reporters really pissed me off this morning when they uniformly decided to torch Kobe, saying that he "packed it in" and instead of playing the game out was actually "sending a message to his team as if to say 'I GOT YOU HERE.' Can the guy catch a fucking break? Last week you're praising him for becoming unselfish (yeah right, Walton and Kwame--with no small amount of assistance from the Suns' "defense" just miraculously decided to start making shots--therefore meriting that other guys get touches). This week, he is, as The SR's were saying, nowhere close to heir to the Jordan throne, because MJ would have never done what #8 did.
Upon throwing a coffee mug at the wall in the Freedarko boardroom, Brown Recluse Esq., disagreed with my outrage, dropping on me this nugget of opinion-based truth; one that is hard to argue:
"i actually see their point. he didn't look like the uber-competitor heir to the jordan legacy win at all costs kobe yesterday. i mean, he really didn't look like he cared if they won. i almost feel like he wanted them to lose. knowing what we know about kobe, he was trying to send a message to someone--p-jax, teammates, proponents of "the right way," the media, maybe all of them. a complex character, to say the least."
To which I responded--and this was the only way I could reconcile my conflicted views on the situation--that I could agree with B.R.esq. yet I felt that in a strange way, Kobe's statement (if it even was a statement) was Jordanesque. If he really WAS saying "Fck you guys," then it was nothing more than what Jordan did being a dickhead to all his teammates, making Bill Cartwright cry, etc. all for the purposes of getting them to play championship level basketball--except Kobe had his eye on NEXT year (and why shouldn't he, the Lakers didn't have a chance from jumpball last night). My point is that Kobe's "message" is going to help the Lakers in the longrun and also sends a clear message to PJax and Kupchak to go hard after some big dogs in free agency. Whatever Mamba did last night was no worse than when after The Era Bulls' fifth or so championship, Jordan went up to a crying Joe Kleine and said, "What are you crying for? I won you this."
The psyche of Kobe Bryant is complex, this we know. And therefore, when attempting to explain his actions, I recommend we do not attribute a single valence to them, but rather try to understand the man for all he encompasses.