Yesterday, Los Angeles Lakers’ Kobe Bryant climbed up another rung on the all-time NBA scoring leader board. He passed Michael Jordan and now finds himself in third place on the list behind Kareem Abdul Jabbar and Karl Malone.
But, last week, the 36 year-old lifetime Laker’s likeability dropped even lower in the minds of many NBA fans like me.
During a team practice, the bumptious Bryant bristled at teammates in an unwarranted profanity laced tirade.
According to an ESPN report, ”Bryant said practice was no different than any other one he participates in except for maybe the fact the media got a court side view of him trying to motivate his younger teammates.
“No, I was just being myself,” Bryant said. “I don’t know if it helps them, but it obviously raises the intensity level.”
Caught on film, Bryant’s “just being myself” behavior has sullied his legacy amongst those who have always admired Bryant and considered the mercurial star one of the greatest all-around players in NBA history.
However, last week the tempestuous Bryant comported himself as an immature potty-mouthed lout unbecoming of a 19-year NBA veteran and perennial all-star.
The ultra-competitive Black Mamba appeared more of a biting, venomous predator instead of the fiercest and fastest snake, for which he was named, on the African continent.
Kobe embarrassingly added to his well-documented acrimonious relationships with other Lakers teammates. Just ask Shaquille O’Neal, Dwight Howard, Andrew Bynum and most notably, Smush Parker, whom Bryant unnecessarily excoriated.
Bryant’s continued pissy attitude and temper tantrums during the autumn of his career may warrant an asterisk next to his name whenever it is mentioned in the future. For example, fans may say, “Kobe Bryant, incredible player, but what an a$$!”
Unfortunately, last week’s hissy fit is what we have routinely come to expect from Bryant over the past few years. Fans have witnessed his murmuring, complaining, whining, moaning and finger-pointing every time this loquacious Los Angeles Lakers guard steps on the hardwood.
Yet, no one in the media says a thing when they should be calling for Lakers management to bury a baby’s binkie in Bryant’s mouth instead of tippy-toeing around the Lakers’ $32 million per year prima donna.
What a disgrace that ESPN and TNT announcers refuse to call Kobe on the carpet for his glaring, glowering and grimacing every time he shows up on camera.
Why don’t we hear TNT’s Marv Albert or Kenny The Jet Smith or Ernie Johnson or Charles Barkley step up with some stones and speak out against the constantly belly-aching Bryant?
Sadly, we see plenty of other pandering ESPN sportscasters like Jeff Van Gundy, Mark Jackson and Jalen Rose molly-coddle Kobe’s contentious conduct and carelessly condone his condescending comments aimed directly at his very own Lakers teammates by giving Bryant a mulligan and saying that’s “Kobe just being Kobe.”
Before Kobe continues to fool himself to think that NBA fans will continue to tolerate his petulant, arrogant attitude, here’s hoping someone bottles up the bickering, babbling Bryant.
Otherwise, we won’t always celebrate Bryant as one of the game’s greatest players and scorers ever.
But, we’ll remember the Black Mamba as an arrogant, ill-tempered snake of a teammate or “Kobe just being Kobe.”
MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!