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NBA finals Lakers Celtics Game 7: Kobe Bryant and a legacy at war

Jun 18, 2010, 12:36 AM EDT

bryantcelebrate.jpgThat’s one for the thumb. 

Kobe Bryant won his fifth title in 2009-2010, nesting a clutch jumper and a series of icing free throws. The storybook ending was written, with Bryant further cementing his legacy as one of the truly great players in NBA history. His veteran leadership and indomitable will to win is second to none and tonight he proved that, finishing with 23 points and 15 rebounds. It was another season, another championship, in his long line of jewels in the crown of his career. 
Well, that’s one way of looking at it. How about this?
Kobe Bryant won his fifth title in 2009-2010, despite shooting 6 of 24 from the field, routinely taking shots out of the flow of the offense, and generally failing to deliver in the most important game of his career. Luckily for him, his teammates who were so often derided for their contributions,  stepped in to cover for him and delivered him his fifth title. Bryant had four turnovers, routinely dribbling into double coverage and failing to deliver as he heaved shot after shot in double to triple coverage. While Bryant clearly has his place among the legends, this performance even more clearly elucidates the difference between Kobe and Jordan.
No, that’s not right either. No, here’s the real story. 
Kobe Bryant once again collected an NBA championship ring behind a stellar playoff performance, while also fanning the flames of debate about what exactly his legacy is. 
There. That’s it. 
Kobe Bryant is, and has been for some time, the most divisive player in the league. Adored by his fans in an idealistic manner, and razed by his critics. He is simultaneously considered the hardest working player in the NBA, one of the hardest working in the history of the league, and one of the most unlikeable players. Players are on record calling him a certain term for an orifice. That’s the reaction he gets from people. Many of whom are his friends. He is considered arguably the finest pure offensive player of all time, and a selfish gunner that can hurt his team with his quick trigger. 
He is the hero, he is the villain, he is the warrior, he is the prat. Beyond all of that he is the champion, again.
This is the real legacy of Kobe Bryant. In Game 7, he forced up shots, and fought fiercely for rebounds, collecting 15. He foolishly handled the ball into traffic, and played stellar defense on Ray Allen. As always, Bryant lifted his fans to greatness and kept his critics’ cross-hairs squarely on him.
And that’s who he is. The player who manages to constantly keep us all talking about him. His life, his attitude, his behavior, his game, his future, his place in history next to the greatest of all time. 
When the buzzer sounded and Bryant collected the ring that pushed him ahead of Shaq, (which he mentioned in the post-game presser), Bryant gave us another chapter to marvel at, and debate, to defend and attack. Jordan was idolized, universally loved. It’s not hard to reach out and grasp the concept that he may have been a more heartless personality than Bryant, and yet Jordan never faced the scrutiny and passionate distaste Bryant has. Kobe has been the lightning rod for the ring. He is still considered the anti-LeBron. His legacy of raising the interest of the league is not the product of his play or the jewelry on his fingers. It’s the product of those rings and the way in which they accumulated. 
To say that Kobe doesn’t care about his critics is a lie. He’s propelled by the same obsessive desire to crush those who doubt him that Jordan was. It is the single strongest thread between the two players. Kobe’s stats don’t rack up, But his attitude and willpower does. Just the fact that he’s compared to Jordan is a huge compliment in and of itself, and yet it’s treated as a derogatory comment. As if “not as good as Jordan” was some sort of bad place, which the rest of the basketball playing universe occupies. 
Bryant’s legacy is build upon the fierce debate he has created in the sports world. He holds something for everyone, even if that something is a deep despise for his every move. And the more the world rallies behind him and throws stones at his glass house, the more he feeds on it and continues his quest to be the very best he can be. 
And that’s what he wants his legacy to be. 
170 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. G Jamal - Jun 18, 2010 at 7:15 PM

    100% Agreed. How can you call yourself a real man or woman and a fan of the NBA and not be and offended when you heard that interview or watched it, as I did. Kobe told a BOLD-FACED lie as usual, because it’s not the first time. I love basketball and have followed it since long before even Jordan came into the league.
    Kobe came into the league trying to be just, “just”, like Jordan. He tried to walk and talk like MJ. He tried to answer interview questions like MJ. He used the same tones and voice inflections in his speech and he tried to master MJ’s moves. THE BIGGEST PROBLEM is, he has not and never will master how to carry a team night-in and night-out with everyone in attendance and every viewing knowning that he is about to take over a game and everyone knowing there is nothing that can be done to stop him. GO BACK AND WATCH SOME OF THOSE OLD MJ GAMES (ANY YEAR), but don’t just look at the final points that MJ had at the end of games. Watch the games, pay attention and you will see how often Jordan scored in critical times and shot-selection. Seriously, if you do this you will see that truthfully Kobe is no where near being at Jordans level.
    Jordan is like a Bentley and Kobe is like a $90,000.00 Porshe. Kobe is a fine player “no doubt”, but not really close to Jordan. It’s insulting to hear Kobe lie about his style and great players who he pattened his game after and at the end of the story say, “I never like MJ, I wanted to be like Majic.” (WHAT A LIER.) Now he trys to blend with most sports writers and say MJ’s the best ever, but Kobe only even started saying this after he pattened his entire game after Jordan and realized that he’d never truely measure up to Jordan’s greatness.
    Gotta despise that guy Kobe. He is a “great” player, but what an a–hole.

  2. Brian from LA - Jun 18, 2010 at 7:56 PM

    Kobe = MJ and MJ = Kobe.. there is no doubt about it. Both are/were top tier ball-hoggers that were particularly deaf when that critisism is/was leveled almost daily. What sets them apart is how they play/played the game, with a set larger then the rest. We watch, because odds are better we will see something spectacular then if we watch someone else. We watch, because we want to see others try and humble them, try and kick them in their set, to whipe the arrogance off their face… but history has been written, they took the shots, wore the target, and they still were winners. they are the same…..

  3. DMONMCD - Jun 18, 2010 at 8:00 PM

    Kobe’s legacy? Although talented the harsh reality is that if the Colorado police and DA did their job we wouldn’t be talking about him because he would be where he should be and that is doing hard time!

  4. jprogers - Jun 18, 2010 at 8:05 PM

    From a middle class white guy: Screw the Negroes Belong in Africa league… It is pure garbage, Kobe is garbage, Jordan was overated garbage, and ur black garbage… The NBA is the WWE of basketball… Fake as f**k

  5. neil - Jun 18, 2010 at 8:19 PM

    What’s up with the riots? What a bunch of friggin’ monkeys in LA. They lose, they riot. They win, they riot. They break windows and trash cars. What a joke. Kobe is a gangster and LA is his ‘hood.

  6. KOBE_BLOWS - Jun 18, 2010 at 9:33 PM

    MJ will always be the greatest basketball player of all time. The only thing people will remember about Kobe is being an A**hole and rapist, as well as having the MOST sorry a** fans of all. LA is full of bullsh*itt*rs and glamour b*tches who get their jollies off of famous people coming to their games. they have the worst crowd and fans. What a Sh*tty city.
    Now on to this debate about MJ and Kobe being equals……BS! Kobe has never shot 56% for 3 full season.
    Kobe always seems to choke in the biggest games
    Kobe is not likeable
    Kobe averaged 24.6 pts/playoffs, Jordan averaged 33.4
    Kobe only has 33 triple doubles in his career,Jordan ended with 71
    Kobe is 5 of 8 in the Finals, Jordan was 6 for 6
    Kobe won the Finals MVP only twice, MJ won it 6 times
    Kobe really only has won 2, the other 3 were because of Shaq
    Kobe always needs key all-stars to play with, all MJ had was Scotti
    Kobe rapes young women, jordan doesn’t
    Kobe is a 12 time all-star, 6 time all-star MVP, Jordan was a 14 year all-star, 10 time all-star MVP
    Kobe was a scoring leader twice, Jordan was a 11 year NBA scoring leader
    Kobe has done nothing in a watered down league with no defense, MJ has played the best defenses of all, (with handchecking) and more physicality
    Kobe needs help all the time or he complains, MJ worked with what he had
    Kobe sucks, MJ doesn’t
    In conclusion, whose shoe is more famous MJ’s or do you even know what Kobe’s looks like?
    Kobe, How my a** taste?

  7. Anonymous - Jun 18, 2010 at 9:50 PM

    AHHH No! Kobe can stay where he is!!!! It fits….Hollywood is where fiction happens and these days the NBA!
    The RAPIST can stay in the land of fakeness,… never would I want him even close to my team…whinning about calls and playing basketball are two different things…..PLEASE KEEEEEEEP HIM!

  8. Joel - Jun 18, 2010 at 11:03 PM

    Yes we’ll keep our whining and championship winning Kobe Bryant. And you can stay where you are and die of envy when the Lakers hold a parade every year dum ba ass!!

  9. doug - Jun 18, 2010 at 11:10 PM

    Robert the man, shut the @#$% up you idiot

  10. Dogg - Jun 19, 2010 at 12:17 AM

    Very good point.

  11. Tree - Jun 19, 2010 at 1:39 AM

    Lighten up Dave. Robert was only explaining, not complaining. FYI, no other race of people have endured the hardships in WHITE AMERICA and by WHITE AMERICA than the NATIVE AMERICAN INDIANS and AFRICAN-AMERICANS. The RACE CARD is all AFRICAN-AMERICANS have to play with. The rest of the cards are all marked in WHITE AMERICA’S marked deck. STFU.

  12. chea ryt - Jun 19, 2010 at 1:40 AM

    This is some overhyped story!!!! Dont make this sound poetic. Talk about overrating a player. He is not even a top ten great. One things for sure is that he has had great teamates & he is not soley responsible for ANY of the 5 rings(Shaq, Gasol, & TIM DONAGHY!)

  13. Jerry Buss - Jun 19, 2010 at 1:57 AM

    OMG! Lame, lame, lame! A great defensive battle all series culminates in one of the most exciting 4th quarters in this storied rivalry, and you’re crying Katy? Wah!!!! That’s basketball at its best, honey. Where they let them play. Both teams showed grit and determination, with what most people consider the better team (not by much!) winning. Suggest you try another sport!

  14. Robert Parrish - Jun 19, 2010 at 2:04 AM

    Good riddance! Obvious you know nothing about basketball. Clearly saw the game through green tinted glasses!

  15. Steve Jackson Asheville - Jun 19, 2010 at 2:25 AM

    sorry for the double post

  16. yolanda - Jun 19, 2010 at 4:03 AM

    Hey Katy, Kobie does exactly what every other player in the NBA does. Poke, push, etc etc. But you sound like every other whiner when the Lakers win. Its always all about the calls. Maybe you should just buy some cheese to go with your whine and it’ll keep quiet.

  17. Anonymous - Jun 19, 2010 at 4:39 AM

    Wow, Dave. I am a black man and after reading what you said you sound just as bad as him.

  18. hackpiper - Jun 19, 2010 at 6:44 AM

    Celtics fan here…
    All I can say is that Kobe consistently took it to us throughout the series. Every time he shot, I was nervous…with good reason. and everytime he was on the court, he propelled the Lakers to score. When he looked “selfish”, it seemed to me that his team mates simply weren’t playing with enough intensity to match his. The Celtics (and all of Boston) knew that there was no way they were going to stop him; they could only win with a full team effort that neutralized the other Lakers on the court. He is a player in the truest sense. Best ever? I have no idea. He certainly looks like the best right now. I wish we didn’t have to introduce the “race” issue into the discussion, but its unavoidable, I suppose. Lots of heat, no light. Racism simply sucks …in all of its manifestations. We need to rise above it within ourselves and simply behave toward each other the way we know that we should. When you take away all the talk about money and superstars, off the court shenanigans, and all the other BS…that’s one of the great things about sport. Real athletes bring it all to the game. Thats what Kobe does. Congratulations to him and the Lakers (and to you fans, too…)

  19. John - Jun 19, 2010 at 10:43 AM

    To all you Faker Fans,
    your boy Kobe is the biggest Pussy in the history of the NBA.
    He is a very dirty player and complains to the refs on every call.
    He has no respect for anyone (including his own team)
    Its all about Kobe. Hats off the the other players who carried him
    in the final game. (6 for 24) in a game 7 you have to be kidding me.
    The Celtics were the best TEAM in the league this year. Look what they did in the playoffs. The refs swallowed the wistles in the 4th quarter. and let the pussy have his moment.
    He also showed no respect accepting the trophy from the greatest player of all time BILL RUSSELL ( 11 RINGS ) Ya you fans that jump on the band wagon, take a look back. (Sam Jones 10 or 11 rings)
    Kobe doesn’t come close to any Celtic.
    D-Fisher should have been the MVP in my book.
    O BTW how is the girl Kobe raped a few years back doing?

  20. hello its me - Jun 19, 2010 at 11:14 AM

    kobe is one of the worst players in history he has no respest for players of the past and no respect for woman as seen for raping a white woman plus he messes way to many shots peep only like himbecause they miss jordan he is way over hype

  21. hello its me - Jun 19, 2010 at 11:22 AM

    thanks john you couldnt have said it any better

  22. B - Jun 19, 2010 at 11:31 AM

    lol dont be a hater YOUR Celtics LOST!!!LOL

  23. Gloire - Jun 19, 2010 at 12:47 PM

    Oh Foul Dwimmerlaik, your counsel is wise but alas it does not undue the fact that you are merely the King of Hobbits – a merely people if ever there was. Your words are lost here, in this land principly concerned with the comings and goings and games of giant men. We dismiss your wisdom at our own peril, but you are dismissed nevertheless Foul Dwimmerlaik, Lord of Hobbits, and allow us men to destroy ourselves in anger and hate based on ignorantly retained but deeply held mistrust. And perhaps, Foul Dwimmerlaik, this will not be so bad for your kind – for when men have gone, hobbits will rule the world from deep in their no longer insignificant hobbit holes. So fight on Dave and fight on Robert and destroy us all.

  24. Walt - Jun 19, 2010 at 1:05 PM

    Best NBA blogger? No offense, but Matt either didn’t watch the series or didn’t understand what he was watching. He discusses the job Kobe did defensively in guarding Ray Allen but the only problem is Kobe didn’t guard Allen in the starting units. Fisher guarded Allen, Kobe guarded Rondo but essentially floated as a zone defender because the Lakers didn’t respect Rondos shot.
    Bryant only guarded Allen when Fisher was out and even that was only true part of the time.

  25. Joel - Jun 19, 2010 at 1:38 PM

    Oh John….typical 13 year old blather….Celtics the best team this year????Hahaha…who’s holding the hardware baby? Its the Lakers thats who…go smother yourself with a pillow

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