Just last week, I shared my amazement regarding why Kobe Bryant attracts so much hatred in the media as well as in the public eye.
After Game 5's news conference, I fully understand why Bryant’s "bad guy" image has withstood the test of time.
Following the Celtics' dramatic win at the TD Garden on Sunday evening, I posed the following question to Kobe: "How confident are you in yourself as well as your team that you can head back home and win two games?"
Bryant gave me an answer, but the condescending and arrogant fashion in which he answered rubbed me the wrong way. He was very sarcastic when he said that he was not confident, an answer which sparked a chorus of chuckles from the L.A. media. Looking back at the presser, I would really like to know what was so funny, seeing that the Celtics had just beaten the Lake Show in back-to-back games. Plus, the Green are the only team to steal a win from Phil Jackson and Co. at the Staples Center in this postseason.
The realization forced me to reflect on my younger days growing up watching His Airness, Michael Jordan, maneuver his way through the media with the grace and poise of a White House presidential aide. Even if Jordan wasn’t a fan of the question aimed at him, he was always politically correct and never allowed the media to know how he was actually feeling at the time. Granted, Mike's postseason record is slightly stronger than Bryant's, and he never had to deal with losses in the same way, but it’s the principle behind both of their approaches that differs drastically.
Which brings me to my main point: Kobe Bryant will never be the player that Michael Jordan was.
No matter how close Kobe gets to six championship rings — even if he surpasses M.J. — he will always be known as a ball hog, a selfish player, the guy who drove the Diesel out of Hollywood. Bryant can say he doesn’t want to be compared to Jordan until he's blue in the face, but the similarities are undeniable.
Kobe chews his gum like Mike, he backpedals down the court pumping his fist like Mike, he drinks Gatorade and is sponsored by Nike, just like Mike. Kobe Bryant is a product of his environment and for the last 14 seasons, his habitat has been the hardwood of the NBA. His road to stardom took a much different path than Jordan's, which could have brought about Bryant's false sense of superiority.
Although he was on the verge of greatness, Jordan wasn’t the most highly touted player in the country coming out of high school. Of course, he did make a name for himself once he arrived at Chapel Hill, but he certainly didn’t take Ray-J’s big sister to the prom. Jordan also didn’t come straight into the league and have superstar Hollywood types sitting courtside in admiration of his athletic exploits. While Kobe had Jack Nicholson and Dyan Cannon in the expensive leather seats cheering him on, Mike was lucky to get Nick Celozzi and Maury Ettleson of Chevrolet dealership fame to support the Bulls back then.
Any way one looks at the situation, Kobe's actions can be perceived in a number of ways: he was upset, he's a poor sport, or maybe he just didn’t like my question. I just want Kobe to know that I hold no ill will (like he cares) and that I wish I could be in L.A. to see how he feels after the Celtics clinch banner No. 18
Like I always say, Kevin Garnett said it best. "Anything is possible!"
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