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Lebron, Kobe, and the Path to Redemption

It’s unfortunate F. Scott Fitzgerald was unable to witness the rise of mass (electronic) media, for he surely would have had to rethink his now-famous maxim regarding second acts in American life. The unblinking omnipresence of the camera (professional and otherwise), the vigilant attentiveness of the microphone and tape recorder, the indefatigably of the Internet and the television networks; all require an endless stream of intriguing narratives in order to capture the hearts and minds of the bored and disinterested.  And while the camera and mic and blog are quick to judge and condemn the disgraced and the corrupt, they are equally quick to pardon the contrite and the penitent. Rebirth and redemption sell, particularly in a nation with as insatiable an appetite for drama and scandal as the United States.

What’s more: from Tom DeLay to Eliot Spitzer to Newt Gingrich, and from Tracy Morgan to Charlie Sheen to Don Imus, the American public’s boundless capacity for forgiveness has proved beneficial for countless politicians and entertainers who, due to one offense or another, have found themselves the target of the public’s opprobrium. Seek penance from Piers Morgan, goof around on “Dancing With the Stars,” pen a tell-all book, and voila! your sentence has been commuted and the road to respectability reopened. With seemingly (very) few exceptions, there are no crimes or infidelities that are beyond the pale; all transgressions will be forgiven or, at the very least, forgotten.

The sports world has, of course, been subjected to an equally long parade of disgraced celebrities seeking, and usually finding, redemption. Ray Lewis may or may not have been complicit in the murder of two men; but oh, what a Super Bowl ring, some pre-game war dances, and a few (admittedly) funny Old Spice ads can do for one’s reputation! Michael Vick? His cruelty is of little relevance when he’s passing or rushing for touchdowns and leading the Eagles (this past season excepted) to the playoffs. Unlike in politics and entertainment, where the prerequisites for forgiveness typically include a teary-eyed press conference and ritual self-abasement on the talk-show circuit, athletes are required only to produce results on the court/field commensurate with the expectations of columnists, TV analysts, and fans to earn their pardon.

The NBA is no exception to this phenomenon; indeed, two of its greatest stars, future Hall of Famers both and perhaps the league’s most famous players, have at one time or another been forced to redeem themselves. But while one has proved largely successful in his efforts to cloud memories of his various transgressions (some of which would’ve sunk the careers of lesser players), the other has failed thus far to convince the public of his innocence, despite the relative harmlessness of his offenses.

They are, of course, Kobe Bryant and LeBron James.

The former’s is a peculiar case. His post-Eagle, Colorado fall from grace was a particularly rocky one, both on and off the court: allegations of rape; an embarrassing collapse suffered at the hands of an inferior Pistons squad in the ’04 Finals; an ugly and much publicized divorce with his co-star (Shaq) and head coach (Phil Jackson, who during his season-long hiatus wrote a book decrying his erstwhile star’s antics) that offseason; and, finally, a disappointing and injury-plagued ’05 campaign that saw the Lakers (now finally, and wholly, Kobe’s team) fail to qualify for the postseason for the first time in ten seasons. By the summer of 2005, his reputation had sunk to the lowest depths, and for all but the most diehard of apologists his hitherto stellar career appeared in jeopardy of descending into a sullied irrelevance.

But these prognoses proved premature. By sheer will, and through a remarkable string of performances (culminating in his 81-point outing against the Raptors in January) throughout the course of the 2006 season, Kobe shouldered a horrid Lakers team and carried it within a whisker of upsetting a powerhouse Suns squad in the First Round. If his return to prominence inevitably encountered some very serious roadblocks (the Game 7 flame-out in said series, a disappointing First Round exit the following year, his public pillorying of Mitch Kupchak and Andrew Bynum, his trade demands that same summer, etc.), his astonishing feats of scoring, and his resuscitation of a franchise that had fallen from its accustomed Olympian heights, were enough for fans and observers to forgive and excuse many of his various personal and professional shortcomings. His MVP, the Pau Gasol trade, and the Lakers’ subsequent return to the Finals (on three consecutive occasions, no less) were merely the logical outcomes of the redemptive processes he’d initiated with his own, demonstrative play.

His superstar counterpart, meanwhile, has faced far fewer obstacles in regards to his redemption, and yet has in large measure failed to dispel popular perceptions of his inadequacies, as both a player and a person. While on the surface the reasons for this may appear self-evident (his inexplicable meltdown against the Celtics in 2010, “The Decision” and the subsequent South Beach celebration, his no-show in the 2012 Finals, etc.), particularly when measured against Kobe’s aforementioned successes, the fact of the matter is that what LeBron has or hasn’t accomplished on and off the court matters infinitely less than how he has accomplished them.

For post-season and crunch-time failures aside, LeBron’s play has been exemplary since his arrival in Miami. He is not, in other words, Tiger Woods, whose golf-related struggles have subverted attempts to recapture old glory; indeed, few would or could dispute his singular brilliance, or that he’s arguably the brightest light in a crowded constellation of superstars. That he’s playing at a level rarely matched in league history and, as a consequence, grudgingly acknowledged as an MVP-frontrunner, only confirms this fact.

No, what differentiates Kobe from LeBron is not the former’s rings or game-winning shots, but rather his fortitude. We’ve come to accept and forgive Kobe precisely because he is unapologetic and ruthless; he is indisputably the “man” on his team, he will take the final shot (even if he’d be better served to defer to an open teammate), and he appears truly indifferent to what fans, writers, and analysts may or may not think of him. LeBron, on the other hand, has never appeared quite comfortable with who he is or what he’s done; his recent intimations regarding a possible return to Cleveland, coupled with his apparent refusal to attempt last-second jumpers (even if deferring to an open teammate is often the appropriate play), is for many yet further evidence of inherent weakness.

Thunderous dunks and triple-doubles are, in other words, inadequate displays of confidence and strength. And while vacillation and remorse may suffice in politics and entertainment, they are of negligible importance in the highly masculine world of professional sports; indeed, the disgraced athlete is almost better off not apologizing for his transgressions. Winning, or, better yet, dominating, are the only sure means of earning the forgiveness of the masses. Anything less (as LeBron has discovered), and past errors and vices will never lay very far beneath the surface of conversation.


41 Responses to “Lebron, Kobe, and the Path to Redemption”

  1. I don’t think Lebron will stop getting scrutinized even if the Heat win the title this year. It’s almost as if there is nothing he can do to win people over. He has to go to the Finals this year, DOMINATE

    Posted by Mike | March 9, 2012, 12:26 pm
  2. Sorry, click on the “submit” button on accident. To continue:

    He needs to dominate in the Finals to even stand a chance of winning people over. If he doesn’t lead that team in the playoffs/Finals, he will be looked at as “Robin”/”Scottie Pippen 2” etc…

    I just think it’s hilarious how he’s called Robin when he has lead the Heat in damn near every statistical category.

    and good article…I agree, Lebron needs to stop caring about what people say and think. Play your game and don’t apologize.

    Posted by Mike | March 9, 2012, 12:34 pm
  3. Interesting read Sean. I’m convinced that LeBron is now derided even more for going to Miami than for “The Decision” because it meant that he was giving up the role of “The Man”. I’ll go a step further; lots of people hate that he went to Miami precisely because it was a logical move. For someone who isn’t comfortable being “The Man”, at least not on a full-time basis, wouldn’t it make sense to team up with someone (Wade) who is comfortable with that role, and is a friend to boot? I applauded this logic at the time and still do, but it looks like I’m an army of one on this one.

    Ironically, Kobe was derided for wanting to be “The Man” to the point of (in the minds of many) forcing Shaq off his team. Sad to say, but I think that many people held that against him more than the sexual assault charges and the admitted adultery. But people forgave him once the Lakers started winning again, and that’s the lesson for LeBron. Winning one or more titles will cure, if not all, then a lot of the public antipathy toward LeBron. Perhaps in several years observers will even look back and extol LeBron’s on-court unselfishness and his non-insistence on being “The Man”.

    Posted by E-Dog | March 9, 2012, 3:38 pm
    • I guess people want their idols to just stick with their guns – play a role and be comfortable with it. The problem with Lebron is that he parades himself as the confident powder-tossing, biceps-flexing, all-smiling, self-proclaimed King…and then follow that with a worried-look on his face, toddler-like nail-biting, and tentative performance during winning time. Simply put, you can’t say you’re The Man and then defer when the going gets tough. He can’t buildup people’s expectations, like shoot 8 of 9 in the 4th, jack up and make 2 ill-advised long jumpers, and then say afterwards ‘I just made the right play’ to justify passing uo the chance to play hero ball. It’s all about expectations. I often hear people lament the fact that Lebron is seemingly held to a different standard. Well, that’s baloney. In anything, people are judged according to their own abilities, first and foremost. That’s the scale by which anyone is primarily measured. And so far, Lebron has flirted with greatness, capturing our imagination… and then disappoint with underwhelming performance when it matters the most. That’s the frustration that people have with Lebron. It’s not hatred (like with Kobe) but it’s just that people love success stories and happy endings. And Lebron, as good as he is, just ruins it for everyone.

      Posted by Jourdan | March 9, 2012, 6:43 pm
      • But that’s just it Jourdan – I think that LeBron is sticking to his guns and being who he is. He’s the engine who powers the Heat for the first 3.5 quarters, sometimes longer, but defers to his teammates in crunch time. No one wants to accept that this is who he is; we so desperately want him to be something that he’s not (a cold-eyed killer). But this model can work; just look at the Shaq-Kobe Lakers. Shaq was the Lakers’ engine, the guy who powered them into crunch time, and Kobe was the one who closed the deal. I’d say that combo worked pretty well. The Heat already have their closer in Wade, and if they can just figure out that he should be the guy down the stretch for them and they shouldn’t mess with this, then no one will beat them this spring.

        Posted by E-Dog | March 10, 2012, 7:40 am
        • You’ll have to pardon Jourdan; he’s not interested in truth. Just conjuring up ridiculous narratives and forcing athletes to fit into them.

          The Heat have three stars players who can shoot the ball in crunch-time (including LBJ, who actually shot the ball nearly as often as Wade in crunch-time situations during the Finals) and a handful of players who are also willing and capable of making those shots (Haslem, Chalmers, Miller, Battier). They’ve played better in close games this season so they seem to have found their groove. Their stars can shoot it, but if they’re also willing to find the open man when defenses converge on them the Heat will be an even better force down the stretch.

          Posted by The Realist #2 | March 10, 2012, 9:48 am
          • Realist #2, so in this narrative you believe it being “force fed” , is it any different than another narrative, the one about Lebron the “muscle flexing” guy as Jourdan put it, why can’t it fit Lebron?

            We can’t have a double-standard, we criticize Kobe for being the go-to man in “this” narrative, he was the closer — we compare him to Lebron and vice versa, when Lebron can’t close the deal and shuts himself from the world, as if he doesn’t know how to use his God-given talents; we reluctantly accept another narrative — which has to be created specially for Lebron, the superstar that can’t close the deal. Thereby he puts himself in an island that he doesn’t want to accept is his reality, he’s the main man, he has to show at least he can close, but he retreats into the sphere of “can’t/won’t” to not accept the defeat if he can’t deal with it. He shies away from criticism, in those cases. Kobe will take the onus that it’s on him, even when he stubbornly does it, not deferring to the best option on the team and ignoring common sense, Lebron on the other hand airs on the side of extreme caution. For the sake of not taking some blame, he willingly tossed himself to the side and made himself a role player, one he is already.. why is he not then taking the next step of his career? Because he doesn’t want to take on criticism if he loses?

            That’s the gist of the article, one man, Kobe has willingly taken it upon himself to transform himself into that guy who doesn’t care what YOU or I think about his game’s performance, even if it’s to the detriment of his team. On the other hand, Lebron James does not take it upon himself in most of the cases, he’s not an open book when he retreats back, he spooks himself into thinking he can create a safe-haven for himself therefore- I will not take the blame, let Haslem shoot, let Wade shoot. He’s a 1a player. How many players do you know who were compared to Lebron, who didn’t take it upon themselves to win? By this I am saying, comparing him to other willing-passers? Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Rajon Rondo. Go back in history, didn’t Isiah Thomas take it upon himself? Didn’t Magic know how to close games? Didn’t Steve Nash at times become that guy? Why can’t Lebron? Why can’t Lebron why can’t lebron?

            Posted by UN0 | March 12, 2012, 3:44 am
        • Thanks E-dog!!! You’re the first guy to actually said the same thing that I have been harping around here.

          Lebron just need to accept who he is. Lebron should just do what he does best, and that’s exactly what you said – be the team engine…and then defer to Dwayne in crunch time. But people here seem to see that dichotomy as appalling and keep on making up excuses left and right for Lebron passing up GW shots and being “shaky”, as Bird put it, in the 4th. No one has to make the excuse for Lebron. I find that irrational and stupid.

          Lebron should stop trying to make everyone happy by being the best in everything. That’s the dilemma that he’s having and I could see that the pressure is getting to him, evidenced by the self-doubting tweets post-games. He just should accept that his game, as strong as it is, lacks confidence in the dying minutes. He admitted himself that he hesitates and such. Maybe a ring will cure that. But since then, let Wade close the games for him.

          Posted by Jourdan | March 10, 2012, 2:09 pm
        • What’s appalling is how you want LBJ to defer to Wade in crunchtime – and yet you whine about him being a passive crunchtime player in your posts anyway. And this has been a pattern of your posts even before the Utah game, where you “wondered” about LBJ passing up shots in the all-star game (with one of them being to Wade for the GW).

          You want him to defer? Then keep quiet if he’s not shooting the ball more in crunchtime.

          Posted by The Realist #2 | March 10, 2012, 4:00 pm
          • What’s wrong with you? Are you from planet “STALKER”?

            All I was saying then till now is that Lebron shouldn’t have passed that ball since HE CAN MAKE THEM. He shouldn’t abide by that conventional basketball wisdom saying “this is the right play” blah blah.

            And that’s all just to rebuke ass-wipes like you who’d rationalize why he had passed the ball.

            When to me, it’s pretty simple. Skip has a point. Bird has a point. Lebron’s freezing during winning time. He’s shaky. And that’s all mental…nothing to do with his game at all.

            So the dilemma is that he’s too skilled to make ‘right plays’ every time he’s confronted with a GW shot, yet there’s something that goes in his head preventing him from doing what his skill set allows him to. To address that dilemma, I simply propose what E-dog has also said: Let go of the alpha-dog status during crunch and let Wade take over. Score here-and-there and do what he does best, which is to distribute the ball and create for his teammates.

            Anything wrong with that??? You clearly lack comprehension.

            Posted by Jourdan | March 10, 2012, 5:13 pm
          • “I simply propose what E-dog has also said: Let go of the alpha-dog status during crunch and let Wade take over. Score here-and-there and do what he does best, which is to distribute the ball and create for his teammates.

            Anything wrong with that???”

            Yes. This “movie” has actually been played out before – the prime example of this being the 2011 Finals, where Wade took the bulk of 4th qtr. shots, LBJ assisted on almost half of his teammates 4th qtr. buckets, and he shots the ball only in spots “here-and-there” (he’s right there with Wade with shots taken in close games down the stretch).

            But here you are, seemingly unhappy with your own suggestion when you describe LBJ as being more “passive” in close games. I just find that curious.

            Posted by The Realist #2 | March 10, 2012, 5:37 pm
          • “I gave the ball to D-Wade and he made it happen…I didn’t second-guess it at all. I had enough opportunities to make plays. I made a few that put us in position to win. That is all I want to do, make plays that give us a chance to win.” – Lebron James [http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/recap?gameId=320310014]

            Bravo. Finally, it’s happening. Lebron knowing and doing what he does best – put the Heat in a position to win, deliberately decide not to close the game before it happens (ala Jordan), deliberately chose his closer in Wade, and deliberately executed it.

            The result – a win. Wade with the hero ball. Lebron with nice 2 passes in the end.

            I hope you watched the game NBA Realist #2. That is what Lebron is. This is what he should do.

            Posted by Jourdan | March 11, 2012, 4:36 am
          • Oh, by the way, Lebron also made a clutch 3-pointer that sent the game to overtime…seems the path to redemption’s starting. I really wish the Heat wins it all.

            Posted by Jourdan | March 11, 2012, 4:41 am
      • the guy who has flirted with greatness and put up underwhelming performances has been one mr kobe bryant , how come he gets worse the bigger the game the harder the defense the bigger the stakes, his numbers his play they all GO down, evidence of this includes never having multiple 40 point games ina row in the playoffs ,no clutch game winning shots in a series they won or in the finals, no playoff triple doubles, stats that get lowered in the finals, getting blown out in elimination games (no signature comebacks) and the only time he was dominate of playing great , another teammate was performing better (ala shaq) I think hes the dissappointment, we all want micheal jordan or the second coming and kobe isnt the guy, even know this season we want to be amazed at hes still getting 30 at 33, but when you look at how many shots hes taking and the ugly percentage and mediocre underachieving record of the lakers ,I just shake my head.

        Posted by samtotheg | March 10, 2012, 10:04 am
  4. LEbron has to dominate? naw he doesnt have too…..kobes never dominated the finals and if he did have a great finals (ala 2002) he had a teammate playing better than him,in fact heres some fun facts for kobetards…kobe bryant has never had multiple 40 point games ina row in the playoffs as he has in the regular season,hes never had a playoff triple double, and his career playoff numbers are lowered in the playoffs and go down even further in the finals …kobe bryant most overrated overhyped player of all time, thats one title that no other player can challenge.

    Posted by samtotheg | March 10, 2012, 9:53 am
  5. btw kobes on the verge of passing micheal jordan this season in MISSED SHOTS!!!!

    Posted by samtotheg | March 10, 2012, 10:07 am
    • Oh no Kobe’s gonna pass Jordan in missed shots even though MJ played 15 seasons and Kobe’s in 16th. Enough comparing Kobe to Jordan, MJ is the best no one’s disagreeing with that. LeBron doesn’t need to dominate he just needs to win. Get outta here with that most overrated bullshit it just makes you look dumb. The fact of the matter is Kobe if you combine his stats and rings has had a better career than LeBron. When LeBron wins a few and shakes the claim that he can’t he’ll be good. He has a great team around him right now and if he doesn’t win one it will effect his standing with all time greats. It’s not unfair Kobe went through the same thing after Shaq left. Then he won some and people accepted him as one of the true greats. Now that LeBron has started to become even better and has a great championship caliber team, everyone is calling Kobe card. It’s almost as if LeBron makes into the all time rankings Kobe must be sent from the top ten or so to the being maybe a top 50 player.LeBron and Kobe can’t coexist near the top or what?

      Posted by J | March 10, 2012, 3:53 pm
      • “It’s not unfair Kobe went through the same thing after Shaq left.”

        It wasn’t right then either.

        Posted by The Realist #2 | March 10, 2012, 4:03 pm
        • It might have not been right, but everyone goes through it Kobe, MJ before he got his. Why feel sorry for them it’s what everyone wants to see a truly great player prove his doubters wrong. The difference is Kobe and MJ took it in stride and proved that they cold on the court. While LeBron wants people to feel sorry for him that he’s being doubted. Just prove them wrong and until then brush it off. I’m not saying it would be easy, but it makes you look hell of a lot more bad-ass. That has really been the biggest thing I’ve disliked about James is that he thinks everything is unfair towards him and whines about it all the time. He just lets fans and the media get in his head too much.

          Posted by J | March 10, 2012, 5:04 pm
  6. j you are retarded kobe never went thru what lebron did he had 3 rings as a part of the new york yankees of the nba …and his stats are not better than lebrons he has more rings thats all btw kobe is gonna pass up jordan in missed shots before he passes jordan in points scored provin kobe is a volume scorer not an accurate one ha you and jourdan are probaly one of those dumbasses who look at a kobe shooting nite wheres hes 8 for 28 with 30 point7 u two tards pay attention to his point total and not his shootin efficiency i bet both u dweebs are the kinda guys who wud call a fat gurl hot cuz she got big boobs ignorin her gut and love handles…

    Posted by samtotheg | March 11, 2012, 3:42 pm
    • Haha funny sorry that LeBron isn’t on a team with another superstar oh yea he is and two of em isn’t it. And yes he did for six it was Kobe can’t win without Shaq all day, I promise you I was there. All I said was wait till the Lakers get back on top they never stay down for long and then they did and proved them all wrong.

      Meanwhile LeBron finally has a team and lost to an inferior team and cries how everyone hates him. Yea he puts up ridiculous stats, but he has the best team in the NBA and he can’t win a title and is trailing an oft injured Bulls for the best record. He keeps coming up short, sorry your hero just can’t win. And no those nights that Kobe shoots like that I’m pretty disappointed, but he has consistently won and hits buckets when needed. He always does what needs to be done to win.

      The Spurs were stacked, the Heat had D-Wade and Shaq just exiting his prime. The pistons were great all around team that beat “the NBA’s New York Yankees” and were one of the best defensive teams in history. The Celtics were stacked. That’s just this century most teams that win titles are stacked should we take away their titles.

      The only championship team that had one superstar, an ancient HOFer, and some role players beat your beloved LeBron who dissapeared who was teamed with D-Wade and Bosh both top 5 players. That team should’ve dominated the Mavs like Shaq and Kobe dominated in their three peat. How many teams have three peated Yeah three teams in NBA history! Stop whining for LeBron you’re a baby oh no everyone’s so mean to him he has no championships, but he puts up good stats why won’t they leave him alone. Where I could the same about Kobe, but he’s already a great when you get that through your head instead of being one of those people that bashes Kobe all day, instead of just appreciating your LeBron.

      By the way I can admit LeBron is great player, but he has no titles. Charles Barkley, Karl Malone and John Stckton were all great players too but with no ship it hurt their rankings and it shouldn’t change with LeBron just cuz you wish he would toss your salad. He’ll be top 15 without a ring, but to be top ten you gotta get a ring. It shouldn’t change with LeBron just cuz he cries that the world hates him. He brought it upon himself just like Kobe brought his hate upon himself.

      By the way I’m more of an ass guy, nice tits are always a plus, never fucked with fat girl but big bitches need love too just not from me. By the way were you look at fat chick porn on the other tab when you came up with that is that why that popped in your head.

      Posted by J | March 11, 2012, 4:32 pm
  7. bitch dont act like yer team was crap u had in addition to kobe u clowns had the greatest coach of all time the 6th man of the year a former dpoy who still does a good job guardin guys aka artest an all star and the 2nd best center in the league who cud have been all star u guys won the season series includin a blow out and ur boyfriend cudnt win a game not 1 game., includin gettin stomped out in game 4 ohh get ur one of those guys who see a shitty boxscore by kobe and think cuz he got bailed out he did great u guys gotta better team than the thunder and yer in 4th place cuz yer hero makes teams worse

    Posted by samtotheg | March 11, 2012, 5:16 pm
    • Better team than the Thunder the Lakers are crap outside of Kobe, Pau and Bynum. We desperately need a trade for a true point guard. We’re built for the triangle still. If David Stern hadn’t fucked us over we’d be the best team in the NBA right now.
      Chris Paul
      Kobe Bryant
      Ron Artest
      Kenyon Martin most likely
      Andrew Bynum

      That lineup woulda killed the league, but woulda coulda shoulda is a waste of time. Kobe makes teams worse huh the Lakers are very stagnant without him. Watch a game before you talk he takes the same shots when he has a good or bad game sometimes they don’t fall he’s getting older and is not MJ.

      Yeah we got swept after playing through the finals three years in a row and both our star players getting to the final Olympics game. The Heat players were well rested and still got whooped. Bynum was nowhere near the level last year he is this year. It is definitely his breakout season. And Fisher and Artest were horrible in the playoffs last year. It was all Kobe and Gasol last year in the playoffs and Gasol dissapeared that series. Which allowed them to throw everything at Kobe. I’m pretty sure your talking about the finals game 7 in 2010 with the bailout where Fish was the only player to shoot over 50% for the Lakers. Where both teams shot under 40%. Where Kobe out-rebounded the Celtic Big Men by himself. The same year that same team beat your beloved LeBron.

      Posted by J | March 11, 2012, 5:54 pm
      • wow first off im anti kobe not pro lebron dont assume shit

        second , I watch all the laker games ive been watching since the days of chick hearn and prior to kobe in 94 when i was 8 believe it or not.

        third let me remind you of that game 7, first i was talkin about a bunch of games this season kobe shot like shit and his team still won and yeah about that game 7 pau had 4 more boards and 2 more assists and shot a better percentage , artest had 5 steals 20 points 1 less assist than kobe and shot a better percentage as well as shutdown paul pierce, fisher was 66 percent and hit both his 3’s and he held ray allen to 3 for 14 …yet kobe is the guy who did all by himself rite nevermind those guys.

        yer lakers had the same starting lineup from the championship years and got swept …u admitted by yer own accord that the starters are good enuff to reach the finals ..fishers play hasnt decline that much since the last 2 years not only that bynum has gotten better ….

        and its bs kobe had no help against dallas in game 1 against the mavs … he had 2 guys with double doubles in game 2 he had bynum 8 for 11 and had double digit rebounds yet kobe had 9 more shots go figure in game 3 gasol and bynum had double doubles and shannon brown and lamar odom had double digit points and d fish had 9 so he almost had dbl digit points …..btw kobe had 17 that game and kobe had 17 the next game his team lost by 36 and kobes guy jason terry had 9 threes made…..so yeah kobe didnt have help my ass….keep lyin or coverin for yer hero ….you probaly sucked his dick….I think you shud watch all the games not the highlights or put things in a proper perspective….like for instance in kobes first finals everyone remembers the over time he took over but not the fact he shot 38 percent for the series and was outscored by pacers player austin croshere… no one remembers the 2nd finals other than iversons duel with …..shaq who had 44 kobe shot like shit and didnt score too much…that sweep who was guardin kobe kerry kittles shaq still outplayed him…everyone remembers the 3 to send the game into against the pistons no one remembers kobes shit percentage and the fact he shot more than shaq and lost the title for his team… the first finals match against boston u forgot how the lakers gave up a large lead at home and was wiped out in boston…or what about his temper tantrum against the suns or the next year when his team got murked by those same suns and he bitched and demand for jason kidd etc….the magic series you dont remember the d the lakers lenght played on d howard and how well gasol played….and u even forgot game 7 in 2010 when kobe had a plethora of teammates step up you say lebron quit but he played better than kobe against that same boston opponent and lebrons teammates played worse….ur a typical kobe tard u probaly wud say shit like lebron shoots a higher percentage cuz he drives more but kobe got 20 something points on that 6 for 24 shootin performance cuz he got 15 foul shots ,,,yer boyfriend drives alot too…or u wud bitch about kobes got bigs in the lane so its harder well then he shud have easy as assits once he beats his man but lebron whoops his ass too….lebron beats kobe in everything except for shootin fuckin free throws btw calderon rates high in the category too…..higher than bron and kobe…..even the 3pt the long ball at least this year bron whoops his ass…bron has been a runner up for defensive player of the year…kobe plays zero fast break d guards the weakest perimeter player on the court ….never been a runner up or candidate for dpoy…and even in his prime wud fuckin cross his feet on d …thats a fundamental no no hes a gambler on d and picks spots ..not a beast on ball defender in his prime…..see i do watch the games in fact i watched more than you cuz u shud know all this already.

        Posted by samtotheg | March 12, 2012, 2:07 am
        • btw u just ruined yer premise that the lakers won their first 3 players with shaq and kobe and scrubs so wut kobe declind now he needs MORE players..btw yer wrong shaq won those titles with kobe as a sidekick u cuda switch him with AI look at the numbers and the games….kobe never climbed mount mutombo (dunk on him) shaq did routinely …..jackass !!!!

          Posted by samtotheg | March 12, 2012, 2:11 am
          • Kobe was a sidekick? A guy like Shaq doesn’t wait on once-in-a-generation prospects to become who they are and then to average 25 a game during the 3-peat to become a dynasty. Incredulous, that Kobe could be a sidekick. How many did Anferne Hardaway win with Shaq? Hardaway was in the prime of his career and so was Shaq, how many times did they go to the finals, how many conference championships did they win?

            Once Kobe becomes a perennial superstar, the Lakers go on to win 5 championships.

            Posted by UN0 | March 12, 2012, 3:53 am
          • Shaq and Kobe didn’t have scrubs they had a young D-Fish good for ten points a game, Rick Fox, Robert Horry. Then a bunch of scrubs. And are you really telling me Shaq is the only reason that the Lakers were one of the most dominant teams history. LeBron has two top 5 players at their positions on his team and they haven’t dominated like that Laker squad did. Shit the 08 09 Lakers had a 65-17 compared to the 58-24 record the Heat had and won the title. So I could say that team was more dominate. And the second championship Lakers went 57-25 and had a much harder time going through the playoffs than the year before, because Artest sadly wasn’t as consistent as Ariza.

            Artest and Fish are hardly the same players as two years ago. Fish is nearly 38 yrs old and shoots at a much lower percentage and scores less. Artest had been nonexistent until two weeks ago.

            So Kobe has to win by himself, but it’s okay that LeBron dipped on his team to team up two top five players at their positions. And by the way I have no problem with he admitted what he couldn’t do. And yes Kobe has declined he’s 33 won all his titles post-Shaq after 30 and playing 13 seasons. What is he not allowed to get older you get older you need people. Like how in MJ’s second three peat he got Dennis Rodman.

            AI are you kidding me coulda replaced Kobe in the three peat. Yeah Kobe doesn’t shoot over 50% most guards don’t, but he never shot under 40%. Kobe had skills size and athleticism that AI wish he had. And on top of that Kobe was what 20-22 years old as a huge piece of one the most dominant teams ever. If he’s done nothing than where the hell does that put LeBron?

            Wow he didn’t dunk over Mutombo, Either has LeBron. First off Shaq is 7’1” 300lbs. and was a beast at the time. Kobe is 6’6″ and 240 or so. Second off what the does that have to do with being a great, really? Does that make Blake Griffin an all time great cuz he jumped over a car? Or is Kobe better than LeBron because he won a dunk contest his rookie year? No you dumbass what does that have to do with shit.

            And I never ever said Kobe won game 7 by himself I’m just saying other players didn’t do more than him in that game. He did what he needed to. Just come back to me when LeBron wins one and you can talk all the shit you want. Good luck having that happen and it’ll be funny cuz if he does D-Wade will have the Finals MVP.

            Posted by J | March 12, 2012, 2:13 pm
          • It’s interesting to hear how so many people overvalue bynum. He just made his first AS team, it’s not like he’s been a perennial member on that team. He didn’t play in the 08 playoffs, and played sparingly and not that effectively in the 09 and 10 playoffs. Though, to bynum’s credit, he gutted it out a little bit and gave the lakers just enough. But, I take some of that credit away for him pulling a Shaq, and being selfish and getting healed on company time, after the 10 champ.

            The reason I bring this up is to show just how little help Kobe actually did have, and still managed to win back to back titles with these guys. Pau was a 1x AS, going 0-12 in the playoffs before joining kobe, and his AS days seem to be over. He settle for 4, which is good, but far from HOF good.

            J is right about the help that Lebron has had. Whatever illegitimate excuses anyone thought he deserved before his heat days went away after last year. And his heat teams still haven’t matched the 66 and 61 wins by the 09 and 10 cavs’ teams. So much for lack of help. The heat have 3 probable HOFers on their current team, all in their primes. No other team can even remotely come close to saying that.

            Posted by boyer | March 12, 2012, 2:52 pm
  8. first 3 rings not players my bad

    Posted by samtotheg | March 12, 2012, 2:13 am
  9. btw samtotheg, even when Gasol came to the Lakers guess who also was the closer of the games? Yes the Lakers made good use of their height advantage but they also made use of everybody around them, Kobe made Gasol better, that’s a fact. That’s why we make a lot about being a closer, the one who closes the deal. Those guys tend to win championships, Dirk did it, and he had a supporting cast to do it. But we want to overanalyze Kobe as a guy who needs to have other players what Jerry West didn’t need Elgin Baylor? Jordan didn’t need of Paxson, Rodman or Pippen– or Phil Jackson’s triangle? So Kobe is a sidekick to you? He wins 5 titles he had to be a huge part of, or they don’t sniff the championships and he’s a sidekick? That’s why your boytoy Lebron doesn’t have the rings to show for it but Kobe ties Magic for rings. You can’t dismiss this guy as being a sidekick when he’s proven he’s been successful his entire career. Go ahead and bring up the transition phase Lakers? You don’t hink Lebron could win with the talent he had in 2007? They went to the finals so they must have been good. The Lakers, if you were a “witness”, were an incomplete team in the middle of a rebuilding mode, one that eventually became 2 more championships. What would the Lakers do with 2 more role players in this season? They are probably 2 role players away, 2 Metta and Fisher replacements away from going to the Finals again.

    Posted by UN0 | March 12, 2012, 4:03 am
    • @Realist #2 ““I simply propose what E-dog has also said: Let go of the alpha-dog status during crunch and let Wade take over. Score here-and-there and do what he does best, which is to distribute the ball and create for his teammates.

      Anything wrong with that???”

      Yes. This “movie” has actually been played out before – ”

      Then don’t bitch and moan when Kobe does shoot and then you go on a Kobe-crusade when you want people to take a backseat to Lebron when he doesn’t. You can’t have it both ways, cry abt Jordan/Kobe and here is Lebron in a happy medium, he then transforms into the guy that does not accept blame.. the guy that does things so he doesn’t get the blame. He can be a passer and everything but don’t cry when his teams lose due to him not wanting to man up in the closing moments of a crunched up game. There is a difference b/w inferring a guy should use his abilities which is to distribute the ball, and then parading the way he does, then the fans parading like Lebron doesn’t deserve to take any blame at all. If there was an excuse tree for every blunder in Lebron’s career, it would be taller than those trees in northern california. People let their Lebron bias guide them into believing there is actually a double standard in play here; no you can’t both act like you’re The King, and that we should accept Nike’s “witness” campaign and watch him defer almost every single time in crunch time — we know he can’t shoot in crunch time, we know Wade is their best option, how about once in a while instead of passing a scoring opportunity, Lebron actually try to score when he’s wide open to cut to the basket? It’s not alien to his ability, he cuts to the basket, stops, makes a quick asserted pass to an open player — so why not flip it the other way and say, when you’re open and you are able to score because a lane is wide open, take the small 8-10 foot jumper you CAN actually do, and cause a team to win, so people don’t turn a blind eye to what he is able to do anyway.. people act like Lebron is a 6’1 Rondo/Nash hybrid with Smush Parker shooting skills for crying out loud.

      Posted by UN0 | March 12, 2012, 4:36 am
      • I meant to say you can’t both be 6’8 have an imposing scoring ability, while being an able passer, hold a 3-4-5 team charade to pump your ego (and act like there wasn’t a pre-arranged deal to go to Miami), and hold “The Decision” and defer.

        We’re not chiding the man for deferring, that’s a very special virtue in any player, the point is, when it’s crunch time, this man forgets he’s Lebron and that he ever held the Decision. It’s not like every one of the plays he passed up on an opportunity to score, they went on to win and there was a proven track record for winning in doing so, it’s like he’s the exact opposite of Kobe – he’s on the extreme end of an unselfish player in crunch-time and you can dully make the case it’s more to the detriment to the team since he’s the best player/score of the team, he’s the core of that franchise therefore, we don’t have to re-categorize what a franchise player should or shouldn’t do in the closing moments of a very close game. Yes Wade has made big baskets, but do you see LBJ continuously pass it to Wade? Or do you see him pass it up to Chalmers or Shane Battier? While I get that it builds confidence, to what extent? Winning time is winning time no matter how you slice, it it may take the best player, in this case Lebron to do it, or as it was the case for the Lakers yesterday, Bynum who was an obvious mismatch for the Celtics in winning time. You saw Kobe go 1-0 this year in deferring and with good results, it’s not like there’s actual x’s and o’s reasoning for him to defer.. yea he has great shooters but not all of them play at the same time, most of them are sitting in the bench for the most part.

        Posted by UN0 | March 12, 2012, 4:44 am
      • What I’m saying is don’t act like you deserve all the praise pre-half-and post game put on a show, be the “engine” then pass up opportune moments because you don’t want to take the blame.. you can’t both be that same guy and not want to take the blame.

        NBA popular dictionary: (new entry)
        Lebron Standard – is one where we accept a franchise player defers continuously for the deflection of the aftermath.

        IE ” There isn’t a Lebron Standard for why Kobe passed the rock to Bynum in the dying minute of the Celtics game last night; there was actual incentive to passing to Bynum as he had the hot hand”.

        “Chris Paul didn’t do the Lebron Standard, he correctly saw the benefit of taking the ball to the hoop which resulted in a 1 point win”.

        Posted by UN0 | March 12, 2012, 4:49 am
      • “Then don’t bitch and moan when Kobe does shoot and then you go on a Kobe-crusade when you want people to take a backseat to Lebron when he doesn’t.”

        Um, where did I ever whine about Kobe shooting the ball?

        This thread has gone to the dumpster. And I thought Jourdan ducking my post from earlier was ridiculous enough…

        Posted by The Realist #2 | March 12, 2012, 10:48 pm
        • Ducking what? Huh? Have you offered anything worth analysing at all? All you offered from the start has been crap. I only indulged here and there for my own amusement. But you’r brand of comedy’s already growing old.

          So just go bk to sucking Lebron. I have better fish to fry, e.g, Jevan, Lochpster…they have more gray matter between their ears than what you could possibly half in perhaps two lifetimes, if that’s even possible.

          Posted by Jourdan | March 12, 2012, 11:40 pm
  10. you guys are morons, it was shaq ….then the rest of the guys kobe was a sidekick kobe has a tremendous amount of help , he doesnt even have to guard the best perimeter player on opposing teams you guys keep trying to sweep that under the rug,I stand by what I say to that u can switch kobe with AI , or austin croshere in the first nba finals etc…and they wud have rings too kobe doesnt usually outplay those guys he just gets the win cuz he has the BETTER TEAM …when i get home im gonna ether everyone of you kobetards and every one of yer crappy points.

    Posted by samtotheg | March 12, 2012, 4:25 pm
    • First off Kobe used to play the best perimeter player in his prime years and do very well too. Not all his all-defensive team awards were bullshit some of the recent one’s were I’ll accept that. He doesn’t guard the best perimeter players anymore, because we have this guy Ron Artest or Metta World Peace whatever, he’s a pretty damn good defender. He started off bad this year with his d, but has really picked it up lately.

      It was Shaq blah blah blah how many championships does Shaq have without Kobe oh yea one with Kobe 2.0 D-Wade. While Kobe won back-to-back rings with a guy who had never won a series in his career and Bynum on one leg.

      “AI , or austin croshere in the first NBA finals etc…and they wud have rings too”. Woulda Shoulda Coulda, I could say the same for if Kobe had D-Wade and Chris Bosh on his team. It didn’t happen get over it. Oh yea and the fact that AI and Croshere couldn’t play D like Kobe good job looking at offensive stats. Kobe has five rings and you don’t get five rings off pure luck. And on top of this Kobe wasn’t even at his best yet.

      LeBron has the BETTER TEAM, see how i bolded it there it means I’m yelling through the keyboard ha, and he hasn’t won anything yet.

      And for Kobe’s shooting, K-Love is shooting one percent better and is 6’11” a big man. What was that because he shoots perimeter shots yea i thought so. And everyone talks about how he’s an MVP candidate, but Kobe shoots too poorly to help his team. Kobe makes his team worse though any coach in the NBA would kill to have him, I wonder why.

      You do realize you said that right that Kobe makes all his teams worse. So Shaq won three titles by himself despite Kobe dragging down his team. Gasol won back-to-back finals with Kobe just making that team worse. Your points are crappy do you actually think before you type.

      If you switch D-Rose and Westbrook would the Bulls have the best record they put similar stats? no, because D-Rose knows how to run a team better. Kinda like how Kobe actually played D and Allen Iverson well went for steals all the damn time. Croshere really he coulda took people of the dribble to relieve a little pressure from Shaq. Sure just plug in people with similar stats and say they coulda done this. Is K-Love as good Charles Barkley was he’s putting up better stats. Is Monta Ellis better than D-Wade he’s putting up similar stats. You see what you do with shit like that it’s very easy to compare stats and say you can replace this guy with that guy and they’d do the same.

      Posted by J | March 12, 2012, 8:05 pm
      • yer dumb as shit dude, kobe guarded best offensive wing guys IN SPOTS , he rarely guarded them all game, if u want I can analzye the game play by play and the 4th quarter too again asshole when kobe had 2 points what did he close ,when kobe had 8 points what did he close or when he 14 points or made only 8 shots all game that wasnt made in the 4th it was thru out the game, I know it hurts sorry to burst yer bubble, yer dude is overrated you keep sayin lebron like thats my guy or some shit ha…..so now u admit kobe has a great defensive stopper in ron artest in addition to the 2nd best center in the league AND a top5 guy at his position to quote what one of you kobetards said earlier and you STILL need more pieces to help kobe you had all that and the 6th man and yer asses got swept …….kobe made the finals 7 times and lost 2 and has 2 finals mvps in 16 seasons,his team was favored to make it last year too, lebron was favored last year and lost thats it the only time his team was suppose to win it all, you gave yer boyfriend a pass for failing to win when expected too,twice, lebron deserves that same priviledge

        Posted by samtotheg | March 12, 2012, 11:58 pm
  11. ok bitches this is gonna be time consuming so ima give it to you guys in parts….

    first part for the first of kobes 3peats the numbers prove kobe was a goddamn sidekick and u cud switch kobe with jalen rose and the lakers wud have still won the title ok first …..

    kobes averages are u ready 15.6 ppg for 36.6 percent and if u go by game to game kobe in game one had 14 points in game 2 he had 2 points the lakers won both games btw in game 3 he didnt play the lakers lost in game 4 he had 28 points they won game 5 he had 8 on 4 for 20 the lakers lost and in game 6 he had 26 on 8 for 27 shooting…the lakers won

    shaq had 3 40 point games averaged over 30 and over 60 percent shooting and double digit rebounds kobe was in fact a fuckin sidekick ,,,,

    and even jalen rose shot 46 percent 23 ppg on 17.8 shots per game meanwhile kobe shot 18 shots per game …provin in theory u cud switch kobe with jalen rose and the lakers wuda still won

    Posted by samtotheg | March 12, 2012, 7:23 pm
    • And on the real even if Kobe was a sidekick can you take away those titles and if so then he has two as the alpha dog. LeBron still has Zero. Kobe gets it done and you can’t take that away. I have no problem admitting he was the #2 options through 3 quarters but he closed it. Shaq was in his prime Kobe especially the first title year was still coming into form.

      Posted by J | March 12, 2012, 8:10 pm
  12. Excellent read, which ultimately begs the question “To whom do they owe this redemption to?” Is it the fans, basketball geeks like us who don’t anything better to do than to scrutinize the best ballers on the face of the planet? From our perspective that may be a Yes, but from the players’ perspective, I think it falls upon them being comfortable with who they are and what they’ve done.

    If we take a look at both players, it seems to all derive from their attitude.

    Kobe was a very good player coming out of high school, but wasn’t regarded as the next best thing (drafted #13). Lebron was a basketball prodigy having his high school games televised on ESPN. I don’t recall this happening before his time or since simply for one player.

    The question about Kobe was “what can this kid do?” and the reaction to Lebron was “look at what this kid can do!” From Kobe having to earn a starting gig with an All-Star in front of him to having to defer to the one of the most dominant big men to ever step out on the court, Kobe has brute-forced his way into conversation about who’s the best player and where he is all-time.

    Lebron’s path has been much different and it seems that there’s been a certain level of entitlement when it comes to his attitude. In one of his MVP seasons when he and his team were taking team pictures before games and performing skits, it was all good as long as they were winning nearly every game. In steps Orlando and shuts all of that down and Lebron walks away without shaking hands. You can’t really blame him for not liking to lose, no one does, but the way he handled the situation was questionable to say the least. So when he became a free agent and jumps ship to a mediocre Miami team, he’s lauded for a statement that isn’t even that original:


    Okay, I know it’s how he did it and everything, but what everyone took from this was Lebron sending the message that he didn’t care to be “The Man”.

    Both of their paths have been quite different, and that may be what has shaped their psychologies in games or at the end of games. Kobe is going to continue to hoist up 30 shots/game if that what he thinks will win the game and not really care in the midst of what many see as diminished talent. Lebron is going to continue to play at a remarkably efficient pace and his questionable decision-making or lack of aggressiveness at the end of games will continue to be analyzed with a fine-tooth comb until the greatness that’s been bestowed upon him shines when it really matters.

    I’m not saying one is better than the other, they both make mistakes when the pressure picks up. The one observation that I have is that Lebron can overcome the minor flaw in his game and it’s obvious that he thinks about it when the time comes. He already knows in that regard he could be like Kobe, have more of a killer instinct and not care about the results. I have the feeling he’ll reach the point where he’ll grasp destiny in his hands and take control when his team needs him too. I’m not so certain about the number he was getting up to though…

    Posted by J.T. | March 13, 2012, 10:34 am

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