Kobe Bryant is a fantastic ball player. A fantastic human, he is not. Sociologically, it’s pretty standard to evaluate people based on the perceived totality of their lives. It’s reasonable that some people don’t want to kick it with Kobe. Still being the intelligent humans we are, we can separate feelings from intellectual observations of pure basketball ability. Maybe.

Wouldn’t President Clinton like to think we only conducted performance based judgements?

That’s a little tongue and cheek because Clinton was elected by people because they felt he’d be a good president and perhaps it’s fair to include moral judgement in that equation. It probably isn’t fair to include that for someone who plays basketball. But why not?

LeBron James seems like a decent human being. I’m happy he represents the US in international competition because I feel like he leaves other players and viewers from other countries with a good impression. LeBron makes me proud, Kobe, just doesn’t. Neither get paid to instill a sense of national pride, so probably this falls into the real but not relevant category.

Even though I’m Kobe detractor - I still can’t deny his incredible, almost magical ability to score and make it look absolutely beautiful. Sure - some deride Kobe’s tendency to be a one man show. Statistically speaking - his 2012-2013 assists numbers aren’t even a standard deviation from Jordan’s 650 assists in his incredible 1988-89 season, or even from LeBron’s from 2012 - 2013 season. Kobe doesn’t always pass, but he can pass and do it effectively.

In 2012 - 2013 Kobe was the second leading scored in the NBA with 2133 points. That’s about $14,000 per point. LeBron clocked in with 2036 points which means the Heat paid him about $9,000 per point. So Kobe makes 1.5 times the amount LeBron does and scored only about 4% more points. Yes, it’s true salary is about everything from back office management to roster, but still - that's disappointing. Clearly players aren’t compensated on a points per dollar scheme, but the point is to demonstrate that while all NBA players are overpaid, Kobe takes it to extremes (and, I want to be mad at him for it - but it’s really not his fault. If I were him I would have gladly accepted that salary).

Kobe is the perfect storm of talented, attractive, smart, and egotistical. The things I dislike about Kobe are probably more our (and that’s a societal our) fault than his. It isn’t his fault that people have told him how amazing he is and put him above reproach or responsibility. It isn’t his fault that our culture values professional athletes over teachers, doctors, lawyers and janitors. He had a particular skill set, used it, and as a result he’s been treated like he’s better than everyone else. How can we expect him to be anything less than a jerk?

Short answer: because LeBron and Tim Duncan. That’s only two. There are literally thousands more.

Why are some players, given relatively the same treatment as Kobe, good people that give us a sense of pride? Why did they get the good juju and Kobe didn’t? Why is it that when the incentive is to act like an egotistical maniac and take advantage of women, some players don’t do it?

It’s time to stop asking “What’s wrong with Kobe?” and time to start asking “Why aren’t there more Kobes?” Why do so many players get it right?” So no more Kobe please. 

We’re probably not going to agree on Kobe. Some of us will defend him fiercely, others will insist that his on court power and poise aren’t as valuable considering his off court transgressions. Whatever the case, let’s talk about the players that are unquestionably good, so we can take whatever has taught them to resist the egomania around them, and teach it to the next generation of players. Then we’ll never have another Kobe. Hopefully we’ll have someone with his ball skills (or dare I say, even better ones) who can also make us proud.  



Stats: http://www.basketball-reference.com/

Cash Flow Info: http://espn.go.com/nba/salaries

AuthorAdrienne Wallace