When someone has a great career in any profession, it is expected that the selected someone should receive the respect that he/she deserves. This statement is true in basketball. Michael Jordan, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Shaquille O’Neal, and Tim Duncan are all examples of this rule. However, one man’s fans do not follow this rule. For some reason, when the name Kobe Bryant is brought up, there is immediate hate. However, with the half-baked arguments used against Kobe, is it really fair to hate on this basketball player?
Argument Number 1: Inefficient
This may be the biggest knock on Kobe Bryant. For his career, Kobe has shot 45% from the field and 33% from deep. These efficiency numbers are only average, however, there are a few variables here that people do not see.
Firstly, keep in mind that Kobe has been the number one option on his team for the longest period of time. Kobe was double teamed for his entire career, looking at footage proves this. When the team you are facing up against puts their two best defenders on you in every play, it makes sense why Kobe’s efficiency numbers are a bit down.
Next, remember that Kobe played an incredible 19 seasons in the NBA. After Kobe tore his Achilles, his efficiency dropped towards the 35% mark. These seasons inflate Kobe’s final efficiency, and it is unfair to use these seasons against Kobe. For those that say “then he shouldn’t have played”, why would a basketball player quit basketball when he is on a young roster? He was a mentor to the young players on the Lakers, if he quit, he would be letting the future of his organization down.
Lastly, why is it only Kobe punished for average efficiency? Carmelo Anthony shoots 45% for his career. Paul Pierce is worse at 44%. Bill Russell shoots 44% as a center, and that man gets nothing but praise. Ray Allen FG% - 45%. Ben Wallace stands at 46% as a center. Allen Iverson is at an abysmal 42%, yet he is considered one of the best scorers of all time. Elgin Baylor is at 43%. Chauncey Billups is low at 41%. Isiah Thomas on the Pistons shot 45%, and he is considered top 15 all-time. Yet, out of all of these players, it’s Kobe who gets the hate? This does not seem fair.
Although, yes, Kobe could improve his shot IQ, he is not as inefficient as people put him out to be. In fact, Kobe is known to be able to make the most difficult shots ever attempted in an NBA game. He can constantly get the ball and give you a bucket with ease, he was doing this for 19 years straight. Kobe is unfairly punished for his shooting when in reality, he is one of the best scorers, and if not the best scorer, of this generation.
Argument Number 2: Not Clutch
Now, this is one of the more legitimate arguments in this blog. Kobe did choke sometimes, most notably 2004 and 2006. However, is there is a single human being in this world that hasn’t felt pressure before? Plus, people will only want to find any small instance of Kobe not succeeding in the clutch. No one is looking for times when Kobe completely took over a game in the clutch time when his team needed it.
In 2001, Kobe Bryant averaged 30 points per game on 47% shooting in the playoffs to help his team win the championship, only as a 21-year-old. In the 2002 finals, Kobe averaged 28 points per game on 52% shooting to help his team again win the championship. This includes 12 points in the fourth quarter in game 3 to narrowly help his team win by 3 points.
After Shaq left LA, it was Kobe who had to carry the load. Kobe would go on to win 2 championships, Kobe winning both finals MVPs of course. However, after Kobe completely took over the finals with broken fingers, people want to say “he only shot 43%, so he choked”. What people forget is that Kobe played against the two best defensive teams in the NBA in the Celtics and the Magic in his two finals wins. What people forget is that the Lakers as a team shot 41%, while the Celtics and Magic shot 43%. What people forget is that Kobe averaged 32 points and 7 assists a game against the Magic, yet people say he choked.
People forget that Kobe has the most game-winners in NBA history. If you made a highlight reel of every clutch shot Kobe Bryant had made, it would be about 15 minutes long per season. People forget that Kobe for the longest period of time had to carry his team for 35 minutes, and then had to play the last 5 minutes of every game, just so that the Lakers had a chance to win. Most of the time, the Lakers did win, due to Kobe Bryant. So yeah, it makes sense why his percentages are low in the clutch.
Finally, Kobe’s last game of his career was the epitome of clutch. Scoring 60 points in his final game, carrying the Lakers to a win after being down, eliminating the Jazz from playoff contention, and finally, doing all of this as a 39-year-old. Yet, haters see this game and go “it was only the regular season, doesn’t count”. If the fan base was as nit-picky to someone like Michael Jordan or LeBron James as they are to Kobe, we could convince ourselves that these legends were not clutch players. This argument is false.
Argument Number 3: Shaq Carried Him
Although this argument is not as used as other arguments in this blog, some people still like to use this against Kobe. However, it could not be any more false. Although, yes, Kobe would not have 3 extra rings without Shaq, the same could be true for Shaq as well. Without Kobe, Shaquille O’Neal may not have those 3 rings as well.
Firstly, keep in mind that the Lakers did not win anything until Kobe developed into a lethal scorer. If Shaq was carrying Kobe, then why didn’t the Lakers win before Kobe had developed? What is more is that Kobe Bryant was consistently all-NBA second and first team in 2000-2002, the years Kobe won the championship? How can you carry someone that was an all-star and all-NBA member?
Now, people will say “Shaq won all 3 finals MVPs, he carried Kobe”. How is it Kobe’s fault that Shaq averaged 35 and 15 every final? Kobe was still capable, he was averaging 26 points per game every final. Finally, after Shaq left, Kobe still managed to win 2 championships. It is safe to say Kobe was not carried by Shaquille O’Neal.
Argument Number 4: Bad Leader
This argument does not even make sense. You do not have to make your teammates better in order to be a good leader. In fact, a great leader has to get on his teammates whenever they make a mistake. Gregg Popovich knows this, so does LeBron James, as well as Michael Jordan. Kobe has this same mentality when it comes to being a leader, so why is he the only one criticized for doing this?
On top of this, a bad leader does not randomly win 5 rings and 2 finals MVPs. A bad leader does not take his team to the finals consistently, a bad leader does not learn 4 different languages just so that he can call plays to his international teammates. Finally, a bad leader does not sleep 4 hours a day just to work on his game for 19 hours a day, solely for the purpose of setting an example for his teammates.
”Kobe is a jerk, he is not a good leader”. Michael Jordan was freakishly mean to his teammates, yet he is considered one of the best leaders the game has ever seen. The fact is that you have to be on a player’s case when they make mistakes. Even LeBron knows this, yet no one sees when he becomes angry at his teammates. Kobe is a fantastic leader, 5 rings show this.
Argument Number 5: Only 1 MVP
This argument is more legitimate than others. However, what Kobe loses in fantastic seasons, he makes up for inconsistency. No one wants to admit it, but Kobe is one of the more consistent players in NBA history. Kobe went 14, almost 15, seasons in a row of 20+ points per game. In his best year, Kobe was averaging 35 points per game, yet he did not win the MVP.
However, when Kobe finally did win an MVP, the haters came. They would say “he did not deserve the MVP”. Now, whether Kobe deserved the award or not is pointless. The fact is that Kobe still led his team to 56 wins, he still had a fantastic season, and he did win the MVP. There is nothing you can do to use that against him. Not only this, but he arguably deserved the 2006 and 2009 MVPs as well.
So, not only was Kobe consistently an MVP candidate every season, but he arguably deserved the MVP in a few seasons and even ending up winning one, despite being a more consistent scorer than anything. The fact that Kobe only has one MVP does not make him a worse player. Shaq, Hakeem, David Robinson, and Willis Reed all only have one MVP, yet they are not criticized as much as Kobe. This seems completely unfair and inexcusable.
Argument Number 6: A Ball Hog
Now, although this is true to an extent, it is not a valid reason to degrade Kobe. Kobe was a scorer, the Lakers did not want him on the team to be a passer. Michael Jordan was a ball-hog late into his career, but he is not ridiculed for it. Wilt early in his career did everything but pass the ball, so why is Kobe the only one punished for not passing?
Would Kobe had been a better player if he passed more? Yes, he most likely would have, but that does not mean that Kobe is a worse player because of it. However, as for passing, although Kobe is not a playmaker, he is an underrated passer in his own right. Kobe is second all-time in assists for the Lakers, and he actually led his own teams in assists for 10 years out of 19 seasons. That’s right, Kobe was not just leading his team in points, but he was leading his team in assists at the same time. So, although Kobe was somewhat a ball-hog, it was not as extreme as people make it to out to be.
Argument Number 7: Off-Court Struggle
Yes, this is a legitimate argument. People sometimes use Kobe’s off-court problems against him to say he is overrated. Yes, Kobe has had bad off-court issues, but this should not affect the way people see him on the court. No need to dissect this argument, as it is simple enough to understand the bias of this argument.
Argument Number 8: LeBron James
This final argument makes zero sense. People will try to compare Kobe Bryant to LeBron James, just for the sole reason of putting Bryant down. What is bad about this is that Kobe and LeBron do not play similarly at all. LeBron plays like Magic Johnson, a passing player that can also score in a variety of ways, while also being a fantastic rebounder. Kobe plays more like Michael Jordan, a scoring player that can also play excellent on-ball defense, while also being deadly in the post. Yet, we don’t compare MJ and Magic. We compare LeBron and Kobe.
Overall, it is accepted that LeBron is a more all-around player than Kobe, however, it is also accepted that Kobe is a better scorer and on-ball defender than LeBron. Yet, people compare these two in hopes of putting Kobe down, not for the purpose of comparing two incredible basketball players. However, comparing Kobe to LeBron does not put Kobe down at all. These two should not even be in the same sentence. It does not matter who is the better player, as they are not even remotely close to the same. This argument is flawed.
Supporting Kobe Bryant does not make you a Kobetard. In fact, people love to hate this man, but they never want to see the success that he has, or the insane work ethic he has, or the 5 championship rings. They do not want to see his 12 all-defensive selections, they do not want to see anything that says that Kobe is a great basketball player. This seems unfair, but this is all my opinion. Let me know your opinion in the comments, and have an awesome day.