A Day In The Life Of A “Kobe Lover”
Reflections from June 17th, 2010.
by Bryan Crawford / @_BryanCrawford
I only saw the first half of Game 7 before I fell into a fatigue and food induced coma. A little more than 15 hours prior to tip-off, my wife gave birth to our second daughter. That was at 4:56 AM. I stayed awake the rest of the day doing a lot of running around and taking care of a few things and by the time I got back to the hospital with wifey and our baby we’d named Gianna (long story but yeah, yeah…I know) later that evening, I was completely worn out. I walked around the corner and ordered some food from TGI Fridays and took it back to my wife’s room. I watched the first half as I ate, and as I lay down from my steak and shrimp “itis” during the halftime show, I looked over at my wife and said, “I’m not going to make it through this game.” Prophetically, ten minutes later I was out. The events of the day had finally caught up with me.
I woke up around 3 AM. The room was dark and the TV was off. I thought about the game and how I had no idea who’d won. I knew that all I had to do was look at my phone to find out but the problem was, I was afraid to.
Before I went to sleep the Lakers in general and Kobe Bryant in particular were playing horribly and I had an eerie feeling that Boston was going to win the game. For some reason, the first thing I thought about as I lie in that dark hospital room debating on whether I even wanted to pick up my phone or not were some of the SLAMonline commenters. Especially the ones who are Lakers haters, Kobe haters, and bandwagon Boston fans that only jumped on because they wanted to see the C’s knock off Kobe and LA. Because I’m familiar with most of the Notorious H.A.T.E.R.S. on the site, if Boston won I thought about how happy they were going to be and how much crap they were going to talk and how I was going to have to sit and read their remarks in infuriating silence, unable to say anything.
What could I have said that would’ve mattered to them anyway?
I’d already seen many of them give LeBron James a pass for being eliminated from the postseason yet again (his team sucked, his elbow was hurt, etc.), and I saw that no matter what happens, Bron Bron can do no wrong in the eyes of some, and that’s all good. But I also knew that Kobe would get no such love.
I knew that he wouldn’t be given the same benefit of the doubt (bad ankle, bad knee that needed draining DURING the playoffs, broken finger on his shooting hand, etc.) had he come up short. I knew that he would be considered a failure in the eyes of those who love to hate on him for not being able to beat Boston and deliver a championship. I knew that people would use a second loss to the Celtics in the Finals as a valid reason to openly question not only his legacy, but how good of a player he really is. For people like myself who have been waving the Kobe flag on this site all season, I knew that there would be nothing that I could add in his defense that would amount to much of anything…and I knew that some people would delight in it.
As I thought about all of these things, I got kind of bummed out.
I’ve been attacked by keyboard gangsters more times than I can count this season when it comes to defending Kobe Bryant. I shouldn’t even have to defend him at all and it’s gotten to the point of being annoying that people would even dare argue against his greatness, especially when the evidence of it is all there. But they still do, while using the most ridiculous of arguments.
Once again I watched all season long as the debate between who was better, Kobe or LeBron, raged on. By the time Cleveland got eliminated and the NBA Finals rolled around, with Kobe on the verge of winning his fifth NBA Championship the argument shifted and became who was better, Kobe or Michael Jordan? Both are used in an attempt to try and diminish Kobe as a player, and both are just straight up dumb to begin with.
Kobe Bryant is better than LeBron James at this point.
Even if you’re one of those people who subscribe to the theory that says Shaquille O’Neal deserves all of the credit for LA’s three-peat and Kobe deserves none (another diminishing argument), you can’t argue the fact that he’s lead “his” Lakers squad to the last three championship rounds and walked away with two rings. LeBron may have had one of the best highlight filled and statistical seasons we’ve ever seen and he’s more than deserving of credit and praise for it, but until he delivers a few championships to whichever team he decides to play for after “LeBron 1st” rolls around in a couple of weeks, saying he’s the better player is absolutely absurd and that’s not meant to be a diss.
Highlights are fun and regular season statistics are cool, but they mean nothing in basketball’s bigger picture. If they did, Wilt Chamberlain would be considered the better player between himself and Bill Russell, but he’s not. At the end of the day whether you agree or disagree, the bottom line is, the ring is the thing by which all players are–and shoud be–judged.
As far as comparing Kobe to MJ, well that’s just crazy talk.
In the modern era of basketball, Michael Jordan has no equal. But Kobe Bryant is pretty damn close. LeBron gets compared with Kobe who then gets compared with Michael Jordan. The basketball royal hierarchy has been set in that order (no disrespect to guys like Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, or other past NBA greats). The best that LeBron can hope to do at this point is pass Kobe on the list. And unless he goes off on some sort of miraculous championship winning streak that changes the landscape of the argument entirely, Kobe will always be the player he’ll be behind and the one he’ll be measured against in basketball’s “Holy Trinity.”
So as I finally got up enough nerve to look at my phone, I saw that there were five missed calls, two voice mails, eight emails, and twelve text messages. I usually don’t but for some reason I checked my texts first. The last one I got (the one I read first) was from my 11-year-old son that lives in Florida. It read: “Lakers won the finals.” It didn’t even matter to me that he sent it at 11:21 CST, well past his bed time. I just sat back, smiled, and thought to myself, “Congrats, Bean. Mission accomplished.”
Later that day as I read the comments on SLAMonline regarding the Lakers winning the championship, not surprisingly, people still found reasons to not give Kobe his due. It’s all good though, he’s always going to be held to impossible standards that no one can live up to anyway.
So whether you feel his teammates bailing him out in Game 7 (after he’s bailed them out so many times already) is evidence of how bad he really sucks, or if grabbing 15 rebounds was less important to you than his six for who-really-cares shooting numbers, it doesn’t matter. It’s in the books now. Kobe Bryant, five-time NBA Champion.
Hate on, haters.