Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Kobe Bryant Blog Day: No Other Way

With Simmons' latest little theoretical exercise, there have been plenty of overlapping discussions today regarding what would have happened if Kobe had gone to Duke, or been kept by the Hornets.

Here's the thing.

He couldn't have.

There was no other way.

Kobe had to become a Laker in order to become Kobe. Otherwise, he wouldn't be... Kobe.

That's part of his whole story.

Kobe represents something to all basketball fans. He is, as it has been said many times before, the most polarizing figure in basketball today. He inspires as much vitriol as joy. And it's not one thing. It's all of them.

It's not his smug cockiness, that's a trait shared by probably 75% of all players classified as "superstars." It's not his legacy of winning, because championships mean something entirely different on the Spurs than they do the Lakers. And it's not even his unfathomable, once-in-a-lifetime talent, because, honestly, we're swarmed with once-in-a-lifetime talent every time we turn on league pass and any team other than the Knicks, the Grizzlies, or the Pacers are playing (even the Heat have Wade. Well, not anymore.).

It's the combination of all these things. A guy, no, a creature like Kobe Bryant could only be forged by a rare combination of talent, upbringing, attitude, and luck. Luck, because he was sent to LA, to join that most notorious of teams, whose fanbase is known far and wide for a... variety of things. He had to be teamed with one of the most dominant players in history, to both raise his game to another level, and simultaneously cast a shadow over him that would only serve to drive him further. He had to have LeBron to draw himself against as the mature fighter. He had to have Gasol arrive and Bynum develop to bring this Laker squad to a new level, allowing us to question just how much of it is Kobe.

He's the perfect villain.

That's what I've come to understand, after reading everything today. He's the perfect villain, in every sense. He brings something out in all fans, whether it's adulation or spite. From the purple and gold, to the championship rings, to the perfect jumper, to the switch-handed layup, he's the icon of everything that's simultaneously right and wrong with the league.

He's a villain.

He's a warrior.

And this season may be the culmination of all this that shows just what he is.

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