The Dark Knight

“Show me a hero, and I will write you a tragedy.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald Frustration
Not hiding…the court–and his family–is his solitude

Kobe Bean Bryant is the story of how a child from West Philadelphia, grew into a man of worldwide acclaim. It has been 12 years since the fabled NBA Draft of 1996…within that class are the likes of Allen Iverson, Marcus Camby, Ray Allen, Steve Nash, and Jermaine O’Neal, however none of them are as intriguing as the enigma that is Bryant.

Kobe Bryant high school
The King of Lower Merion

Over the years, pundits spewed venom saying that he was everything from an elitist without street creditably to a bad teammate. The only thing he ever was as a 17-year old high school student, straight to the professional ranks of the NBA, is misunderstood. In his naivete he didn’t even read all of the crazy things the Los Angeles and national media wrote about him. His main focus was making the transition from competing against boys to men.

Kobe rookie
Del was more father figure than coach

Basketball is, was, and always will be something that drives him.

The goal is and always was from his youth in Italy to become the BEST basketball player that he could be. If it were not for the guidance and support of his family, this story had the potential to go awry way before 2003.

We all make mistakes, especially as a teen or young adult, however not many of us, have had to grow up and make choices in a fish bowl for all the world to see.

I write this as a friend of the Byant and Cox families, so my words are tainted with loyalty.

Nevertheless, if you had a sneaker contract worth six-figures when you were 17, or if you wanted to make a decision that went against what your parents wanted, just remember that you didn’t have to do it with complete strangers and the media watching.

For some reason or another Kobe has been painted as everything that is wrong with professional sports.

Allow me if you will to venture back to the early 1980’s. Joe “Jellybean” Bryant was playing for the San Diego Clippers, and made his off season home in his native Philadelphia.

They lived in the Overbrook section of the city around the corner from the legendary Wilt Chamberlain. By this time Kobe had began to emulate his father, playing basketball in the living room, while watching “Jellybean” on television. This was the building block for the MVP you see today.

1997 SLAM DUNK Champion
All Star Saturday ’97 was his coming out party

By the time KB24 became the standard for which all NBA players were measured, in the 2002 NBA All-Star game, he had already won 2 titles, in back-to-back years. Later that season he returned to the mountain top sweeping the New Jersey Nets en route to a third championship.

Winning is not everything, however for a young Kobe Bryant it is what drove him, and it drove everyone else against him. From his a certain teammate, to the press I am sure he could relate to a me against the world way of thinking.

Adding insult to injury, when he did win his first All-Star MVP award, it was in his hometown, where the legends of basketball players before him grew, and not only was he booed, he was made to feel as welcome as a bill collector’s phone call at 7AM.

That was a game I will always remember, as it was my first All-Star Weekend. The boo birds were in so much of a frenzy, that I even caught wreck for cheering.

When asked about the Philadelphia public display of affection, Bryant shared with the media his loss for words, saying “I was pretty — pretty upset. Pretty hurt.

I just wanted to go out there and just play, just play hard. But they booed and you know, I still like coming home, though. I still enjoy playing in Philly, nonetheless.”

bryant210.jpg
What do you think Jesus is thinking?

The reason for this anecdote is because I know that KB24 is a special person, and as a journalist and sports fan, I know that a player like this only comes around every so often and this is why I choose to celebrate him.

Why should I join the millions of other writers and continue to pour proverbial salt on the shoulda been healed over wounds?

The road less traveled has gotten me this far, and I do not intend to change now.

The Los Angeles Lakers are playing excellent basketball, and the catalyst is none other than the starting five, bench, and coaches.

As Bryant expressed in his press conference, the MVP is a team award. He trust in his teammates shows, as they have worked hard on their games, and in the film sessions, to become worthy of his belief.

Trades have been made, free agents have been signed (Derek Fisher), and that combined with Kobe’s dedication to his game and strict training regimen has paid dividends like none other.

LeBron James and Kevin Garnett at the start of the season were the favorites to win the Maurice Podoloff trophy, with Bryant at a close second. After the All-Star break, Chris “CP3” Paul emerged as the “one” to win, with Kobe in a close second. The logic here is consistency and that is why Kobe Bryant will, at the start of Game 2, hoist his much deserved Most Valuable Player award into the STAPLES Center air.

Kobe Bryant 2007-08 MVP
They who endure, conquer

Peace, AXG

37 Responses to “The Dark Knight”

  1. DavidMac says:

    Chris Paul was robbed, he is the MVP of the league.

  2. Chris Paul was robbed? Based off of what? Just curious about your opinion.

  3. Lakers Blog says:

    This is a great article. Thank you for the insight.

  4. CEvidence says:

    I would have given my vote to Chris Paul too.

    Kobe should have all ready had his MVP…maybe even two by this year. But we all have an idea as to why that didnt happen.

    But….if Steve Nash won two, back to back — it’s almost automatic that Chris Paul should have gotten his this year. Why? In every category Paul’s numbers are better than Nash’s. Every stat.

    Where would the Hornets be with Paul. At home right now because they would not have made the playoffs for sure. The Lakers would be in the same position without Kobe, so that fact is a wash.

    My main issue is the REASON that this award was given. If it is for what he has done previous years, fine, but just don’t call it an MVP. If it is because he wanted to be traded so badly in the beginning of the season, got some teammates and changed his mind, fine. So we are going to hold it against Paul that he didn’t have any complaints about his teammates or management? That’s not fair in any way.

    If the voters want to go by pure numbers as they seem to some years. Stick to that. If it is other factors going in, stick to them and let those be known. But the going back and forth needs to stop.

    I truly believe that Paul did just as well with less this year and should have been the MVP. When people respond and say, “Paul will have his time” that shows just how much of a joke the award is. The “time” should be in the season where he put up great numbers, was a team leader FROM THE BEGINNING, and powered his team to this position. Not a lifetime achivement.

    Kobe is greatness, true, but not this years MVP…sorry…

  5. Jaali says:

    On a personal level, Kobe Bryant is at worst a rapist, and at best a white girl porkin’ philanderer who cheats on his wife. This is not a man to be lauded. He is a disgrace to the black community, a cretin who accentuates the stereotype that black men are not faithful husbands.

  6. Mizzo says:

    Do not engage Jaali. He’s the same cat who changes his name and email address but comes with the same old dumb ish.

    I don’t know how these cats get through the spam filter.

  7. Mizzo says:

    Kobe all the way. We’ll see who the real MVP is in June.

  8. DavidMac says:

    Cevidence wrapped it up perfectly.

  9. thebrotherreport says:

    When the sexual allegations first came out, I applauded Kobe because the only person he owed an explanation to was his wife. He did it in front of the free world not knowing what her next move was going to be and for that he has my respect as a man.

    As a player, what can you say? He has the killer instinct that you see in few athletes. When they were up 3-1 against Philly in ’01 when he made the “Cut their hearts out” comment, I was pissed because the 76ers were on the receiving end of it but deep down I was smling because that was the Philly ballplayer coming out of him.

    The Man Upstairs has a way of humbling people; for Kobe it took losing some friends, millions in endorsements and nearly his marriage.

    Humbling is a test of one’s will and faith. Kobe has held fast to both and receiving the MVP is one of the rewards for that perseverence.

  10. DavidMac says:

    Kobe wasn’t scared of losing his marriage, he was scared of losing his money because his dumbass didn’t sign a prenup.

    Like Cevidence said earlier, if they wanted to give him the title for past mistakes that is one thing but don’t make him this year’s MVP, that is Chris Paul. If Kobe wasn’t on the Lakers they would still be in the playoffs, if Chris Paul was not in NO they would be at the bottom of their division. The same thing applies for LeBron James. Chris Paul should have been 1 and Lebron AT LEAST number 2, for Kobe and Garnett to come in higher in the MVP race than LeBron is a joke.

  11. thebrotherreport says:

    I would’ve had a problem if CP3 won it I actually nominated him two months agao as my choice. But since I don’t get a cut of that MVP money I’m not gonna scream bloody murder either. I’m just giving KB24 his due.

  12. Chris Paul had an excellent year, and I look at April 11, 2008 as a gauge for the MVP award. At the time, the Hornets were in 1st place in the Western Conference, and they were visiting the Lakers that night and not only did they get out played, they lost their number 1 spot.

    I spoke to Chris Paul a few days ago and he told me that he is happy for Kobe, and that Bryant deserved the award. How can we argue with “CP3”? I also spoke with LeBron James, and he said the samething, that KB24 is the league MVP. Its hard to dispute the people that actually play the game.

    As for Kobe off the court, I’m guessing the article wasn’t read, about how I mentioned it is very easy to throw stones at public figures, if you are not one yourself. I can imagine, how difficult it would be to live in a “fishbowl” for all the world to look and talk about your every move. And unless you know the people personally, we really shouldn’t have too much to say about them.

    Just my thoughts, as I respect everyone’s opinion.

  13. DavidMac says:

    Kobe said Steve Nash deserved to be MVP, Shaq said Steve deserved to be MVP. So what, that doesn’t change the fact that Chris Paul and LeBron should be the top two finalist in the MVP race. It is as simple as that.

  14. clay davis says:

    lets the get the violin out for poor mr.bryant. all that money and success just aren’t enough to sooth his hurt feelings. i’m sure he’s real worried about what people on the internet think about him.

  15. Deevo says:

    I think people have seen Kobe perform better individually in the past so have completely overlooked his “subpar” individual season this year. But I don’t see why Kobe averaging 35 ppg a few seasons ago should hurt his candidacy this year.

    No matter how you slice it, the man averaged 28, 6, and 5 – which are GREAT numbers for anyone other than Kobe or LBJ – AND he led his team to the top of the western conference. He did this while defending the best player on the other team most nights. Oh yeah, he has a torn tendon on his shooting hand that needs surgery for crying out loud.

    You cannot tell me that if Wade had produced these numbers and led his team to the top of the west that he would not be considered a front-runner by many of the same folks who deny Kobe deserves this trophy now.

    Lastly – there is no way in heck the Lakers would have just as good a record as they have now if Kobe did not play this season. Seriously, you think the Lakers could have won 57 games without the guy? Give me a break.

    Nothing against CP3 and LBJ (or even KG), who I think are all as deserving and I would not have complained if they got it. But I just find it laughable that people are saying he didn’t have that great a season so he doesn’t deserve even a top 2 finish. Please.

  16. DavidMac says:

    The Lakers have Paul Gasol and Lamar Odom, with Fisher at the point and a solid bench. They play good defense and when they execute their offense they are highly effective. This year they would have definantly been in the playoffs without Kobe.

    I’m not trying to demean Kobe and I do think he was robbed of the MVP before, but that in no way excuses the robbery of Chris Paul this year or LBJ again.

  17. Hmmm, let’s see the TRIANGLE offense works BEST with a dominating 2 guard. In fact the only people in that position to win an MVP were MJ and now KB.

    The Lakers do not win 57 games in the triangle without Kobe Bryant. And no Kobe Bryant does not care what people on the Internet think about him, however why throw stones at the man? He had a great year. I know that had the Lake Show lost last night, the pundits would be having a field day right about now. If you like basketball, truly you must see how good he is, and when it is all said and done LeBron James will carry the torch just fine!

  18. CEvidence says:

    DMac —

    I wasn’t talking about Kobe’s past mistakes. Please don’t use my words out of context. I was talking about his past performances on the court. I get the feeling that the voters are finally awarding him for that, instead of giving it to the man who has had the singular best statistical and team building season this year. And that is CP3.

    They were enough of a shock that the coach was awarded Coach of the Year, shouldnt a player who was almost under the radar at the start of the season deserve the “most important” player award as well? I believe so.

    As I said, Kobe is great, and if I needed someone to play on my team no matter the situation, I’ll fight you to get to choose Kobe first. But, this year…YEAR…he was not the MVP. He is being awarded for having a strong year…check. Leading his team to 1st place….check. But what else? All he has done in the past, and overcoming the fact that he didn’t want to be on this team???? That isn’t cool. Because he threw his teammates under the bus, while everyone may have been rallying about CP3 and his leadership abilities. Why are we holding that against Paul? It’s not fair to hold it against him when he was performing the way he should have from the get go.

  19. thebrotherreport says:

    I agreed that they probably gave it to him this season because the voters felt like they owed him one, (see: Denzel Washington and the Oscars) but that’s not to say that he otherwise isn’t worthy of the award. Because Steve Nash damn sure wasn’t the best player in the league two seasons in a row.

    Anyone in favor for the MVP being awarded AFTER the playoffs.

  20. TBR, giving the award after the playoffs would be the best way to decide who the league MVP is. I sure hope David Stern read your post, because that is the BEST way to handle it.

  21. Deevo says:

    That’s what I’m saying though. It isn’t robbery – and I think the only reason why it’s considered robbery is because, like you mentioned, Kobe was “robbed” of MVP before when he had better numbers.

    But let’s just assume MVP has to be on a (not “the”, just “a”) top team in the conference. Fine. Kobe meets the criteria this year, as does Chris Paul. That will eliminate Lebron from the discussion this year. Not that I agree, since I do think memorable seasons need to be recognized.

    I don’t buy the argument that CP3 deserves it this year and nobody else does because Nash did the same thing in Phoenix and he was named MVP twice. He deserves to be in the conversation, no doubt. But to say he was robbed is to discount what Kobe did this season and say Kobe’s season doesn’t measure up.

    Using the Nash argument – Nash won an MVP award because he carried a team without Amare Stoudemire to the top of his division, right? Kobe carried a team without its defensive anchor (Bynum) for over half the season, and Gasol wasn’t there until after the season started. The Lakers went something like 7-2 on a 9 game eastern swing without the help of Bynum or Gasol for the entire trip (Gasol came later). The argument that Kobe had “a lot of help” this year is a myth. He was the one constant force driving the team, and his unselfishness (finally) brought the team up to a higher standard.

    CP3 on the other hand had West, Peja, and Tyson all year. If you want to use the argument that they weren’t really anything before CP3 came along, that’s fine. But then what happened last season when the Hornets battled injures? Missed the playoffs. The importance of his teammates cannot be belittled this year when the team couldn’t produce without them the year before.

    And we’d have to agree to disagree on this one, but I’ve watched the Lakers all year. If you think the Lakers would make the playoffs with just Gasol (for 30+ games), Odom, Fisher, and the solid bench in the west (meaning they’d win 50 games or more), then I don’t know what else to tell you.

    You will never be able to convince me that 28, 6, and 5, and defense on the opposing team’s best player night in and night out is “robbery.”

  22. thebrotherreport says:

    In a way it eliminates players who don’t make the playoffs and gives those that do the opportunity to improve their chances.

  23. thebrotherreport says:

    Deevo – I’m in total agreement

  24. Deevo says:

    To those saying Kobe wasn’t the MVP THIS year, honestly answer me this.

    Say Kobe was a 3rd year player, who previously never made the playoffs, and had a career averages of 23, 5, and 4 before this season.

    To start the year, people were writing his team off again, saying they wouldn’t make the playoffs (which people were saying about the Lakers and the Hornets prior to this season).

    Would you view his season this year any differently? Or would he still not be a legit MVP candidate with a mere 28, 6, and 5?

    (I’m sorry I keep bringing those numbers up, but I’m just bewildered as to how people overlook those and say he wasn’t great this year. It’s like the years MJ was overlooked because he “only” averaged 29 all over again.)

  25. DavidMac says:

    Cedvidence, I really don’t know what you are talking about, I never put words in your mouth, you would see that if you read my posts.

    To everyone else, I disagree with having the MVP award given after the playoffs. I think the award is for MVP of the regular season and you shouldn’t discount people because their team is weak, a great player will not win if they don’t have adequate talent around him, so to skip over a guy because he isn’t in the playoffs not warrented in my eyes.

    Deevo- I guess we will have to disagree then, because I can see a LA team making the playoffs without Kobe this year in the West. CP3 elevated his game this year and made all the guys on his team better. He turned them into a beast and they are 2 games away from sweeping the current champs. LBJ has a worse squad than last year and still got out of the 2nd round and put up terrific numbers, take him out of Cleavland and they are finishing at the bottom of the East.

  26. DavidMac says:

    Deevo- I’m not dissing Kobe’s numbers at all. I’m not saying he had a garbage year at all. I look at who is the most valuable player in the league, there are only two choices from what I have seen this year and that is Chris Paul and LBJ, without them their teams would not make the playoffs.

    I mean hell, the Lakers have two #1 scoring options on their team, Gasol and Kobe and a decent #2 in Odom and lets not forget Bynum at the beginning of the year. They are almost the Western equivalent of the Celtics.

  27. thebrotherreport says:

    Gasol arguably had a better team in Memphis than in L.A. minus Kobe. And still didn’t make the playoffs.

  28. Deevo says:

    DavidMac – agreed with you on the regular season MVP. No playoffs counted. Choking in the playoffs sucks, but shouldn’t be held against you if you had a great regular season.

    But you overlooked my point about CP3’s teammates being out last year and them not making the playoffs. Of course he made all his guys better, they were finally playing.

    And isn’t it possible that the Laker team looked really good because Kobe made them better, which is the argument being made for CP3? Assists are just numbers and don’t tell the whole story of making others better. You also have to look at how open other players are when you are constantly being double-teamed.

    I know we’ve agreed to disagree, but it just really sounds like you barely even watched the Lakers play this year. Because in all honestly, without Kobe, that team is not even making .500 this season.

  29. Deevo says:

    Gasol is not a legit #1 option. He has proven that in Memphis. Is Michael Redd a #1 option?

    And now I almost positive that you don’t watch the Lakers at all because Odom is a TERRIBLE #2 option. If he was any good at that, the Lakers would have been in first place the last couple of years. The reason he is thriving is he is finally where he is comfortable – as a #3 or #4 option.

    And that “take a player off a team and they wouldn’t be any good” argument can be said about more than just CP3 and Lebron. I don’t see Dwight Howard or Deron Williams being pimped with the same fervor.

    And like TBR said, Memphis had at the very least as crappy a squad as the Lakers do w/o their stars. Gasol faked injury just so he wouldn’t have to play with those guys.

    Now that you mention it, sure seems to me like Kobe made Gasol that much better that people think he is actually the savior of the team (after playing a mere 30 games).

  30. Well written Deevo! I couldn’t agree more!

  31. mcbias says:

    Another interesting issue is how much guilt Shaq and P-Jax have to bear for their continual attempts to throw Kobe in front of the media bus. I say quite a bit!

  32. CEvidence says:

    DMac @ 1:02 PM – May 8th

    “Like Cevidence said earlier, if they wanted to give him the title for past mistakes that is one thing but don’t make him this year’s MVP, that is Chris Paul.”

    I’m not taking a shot at you or whatever, but still…I was not talking about ANY mistakes the man committed off the court that do not involve bball. I’m talking about strickly on the court, how he should have recieved one for his performance years before, but this year, based on performance it goes to Paul.

  33. DavidMac says:

    Cevidence, where are you getting that I’m talking about off the court issues? When I say past mistakes, I am referring to the league not giving it to him before when he deserved it over Nash.

    As to Deevo.

    Regarding Paul last season I attribute that to him being better this year than he was last year.

    Year Team G GS MPG FG% 3P% FT% OFF DEF RPG APG SPG BPG TO PF PPG

    06-07 NOK 64 64 36.8 0.437 0.350 0.818 0.8 3.5 4.4 8.9 1.8 0.1 2.52 2.40 17.3

    07-08 NOH 80 80 37.6 0.488 0.369 0.851 0.8 3.2 4.0 11.6 2.7 0.1 2.51 2.30 21.1

    I hope you can understand what I posted it looks weird. Main thing is he was better this year than he was last year, which is wha tI attribute the Honets success to.

    As for Odom, you may be right, he may be a better #3 option, but I still say Gasol has been and can be a #1 scoring option so that is a advantage Kobe has going for him.

    Also Memphis without Gasol is still leagues worse than LA without Kobe. LA still had Odom, Bynum, Farmar, Fisher, and Radmonovic. The grizzlies have what Rudy Gay and Mike Conley Jr., I take the Laker’s squad everyday.


    Bottom line to me is this, if they are going to give Nash MVP in 05 and 06 why not give it to Paul this year who when he has better stats than Nash had his 2 MVP years.

    As for LBJ and Kobe

    How in the hell can you give Kobe the MVP over LBJ this year when LBJ is better than Kobe in every statistical category this year except 3P% AND LBJ has a scrub team that got worse mid season.

  34. CEvidence says:

    Fine, but your statement wasn’t clear enough. It read like you were talking about “his” past mistakes not the leagues or voters.

  35. DavidMac says:

    What about
    “If they want to give him the title for past mistakes”
    sounds like I’m talking about his personal problems? Who in the hell would give a man an award for a rape allegation anyway?

    I think it was a perfectly clear sentence, and not vague or confusing at all.

  36. Deevo says:

    DMac –

    “How in the hell can you give Kobe the MVP over LBJ this year when LBJ is better than Kobe in every statistical category this year except 3P% AND LBJ has a scrub team that got worse mid season.”

    Easy. Kobe didn’t get the MVP in his memorable 35 ppg season. Not saying that’s LBJ’s fault, but c’mon. If the voters were to reward LBJ for frankly a less-superior season than Kobe’s a few years ago in a year where he took a more talented team than Kobe’s (recall Smush Parker and Kwame Brown were his fellow starters – playing in the WEST. ‘Nuff said) to 4th place in the eastern conference, then THAT would be unbelievably hypocritical.

    Again, I’ve been basing my posts with the assumption that team success is vital. I don’t like it, but it is what it is, and it’s been what it has been the last 5 or so years (Dirk??). So yes, KB, CP3, and KG all have better claims to the trophy than LBJ IMO, using that criteria.

    —————–

    “Main thing is (CP3) was better this year than he was last year, which is wha tI attribute the Honets success to…”

    Two things here.

    1) I asked the question above – would your opinion change if Kobe was a 3 year player who had averaged 23 ppg a game and whose team never made it to the playoffs before?

    I don’t think Kobe should be penalized for playing within the team concept, taking less shots and hence scoring less. In fact, kudos to the voters for recognizing that that simple change improved him. Bringing us to…

    2) Are you only taking statistics into account when you say “better than last year?” Because I can tell you now, Kobe has played much better this season than he did last season when he averaged more points. It’s not just about numbers, it’s about carrying his team when he needed to, and pumping up his teammates whenever he could.

    You absolutely cannot discount the importance of Kobe’s presence on the court. The team’s entire success relied upon it this year. To say CP3 affected his team’s success so much more than Kobe is just not an accurate statement.

    To that point – don’t you think having Peja play more than 13 games this year helped open up the floor for CP3, giving him more room to maneuver and helping him dish 3 more assist per game than last year? It works both ways. I won’t penalize him for his great season for finally having Peja around; as I wouldn’t penalize Kobe for having Kupchak trade for Gasol mid-season after Bynum went down.

  37. michelle says:

    Kobe is a great player and he deserves the MVP.