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Kobe Bryant tells LeBron’s critics to “back off”

Aug 1, 2011, 12:57 PM EDT

2011 NBA All-Star Game Getty Images

You can add Kobe Bryant to the list of LeBron James defenders.

In an interview with ESPN Sunday, Kobe — who has seen his share of fan and media criticism, and a few other people’s shares also, especially following the trade of Shaquille O’Neal from the Lakers and the incident in Colorado — told people they should back off LeBron.

“I think people need to lay off that kid, that’s what I think. I’ve gotten to know him pretty well playing on the Olympic team, and I think they just need to back up off him and just let him play and let him live his life. Let him make his decisions, let him mature as a player.

“It’s tough to be under a microscope like that all the time. So I would like everyone to just back off him and let him play.”

That’s not going to happen by the way.

LeBron’s marketing scores have plummeted. The only way LeBron is turning that around is the Kobe model — win and lead your team to the wins. Not 60-plus regular season games either, we mean rings. That’s the only thing that changes his legacy.

Kobe gets that.

  1. florida727 - Aug 1, 2011 at 3:17 PM

    Well, heck, if Kobe tells me to back off criticizing LeBum, then by golly, I guess I better back off. After all, it’s HIM, it’s Kobe.

    Jerk-off. Shut up Kobe. LeBum is an easy target because he folds up like a cheap suit when the playoffs roll around. When it matters most, he hides best. LeBum, get some rings, THEN spout off about how talented you are. Couldn’t win with DWade and Bosh? What’s your excuse? Needed Carmelo and Amare to round out your team?

    • downtowndanny - Aug 1, 2011 at 3:55 PM

      dont you mean fold like a lawn chair? how does a cheap suit fold bro? we all know Lebron hasn’t lived up to the hype in the playoffs but 99% of the guys that have hated on him (myself included) can’t outplay him on the court. Will i continue to bash him when he falls short, absolutely but reality is reality he’s still a better baller than you..

      • caseybojangles - Aug 1, 2011 at 5:51 PM

        let me correct that for you…its 99.999999999% of the guys that have hated on him…

        crap…f it…i’m just going to go with 100%

      • goodtimesohio - Aug 1, 2011 at 8:28 PM

        @downtown, I don’t really know what you are saying here. 99% of the people commenting here don’t play any professional sports and make the $15-20M a year. LeBum and any pro NBA could kick my a$$ blind folded and most everyone on here. Trust me danny, cheap suits do fold, I’ve done it…..just sayin’

      • hatrhurter - Aug 2, 2011 at 8:50 AM

        sorry but when you brag about your skills and then don’t come through in big games you open yourself up to ridicule. as for those people that have hated on him not having his ability to play, they never claimed to. if you want to gloat about your skills you need to learn how to take the insults when you don’t come through.

  2. philiplewis1 - Aug 1, 2011 at 3:28 PM

    Lebron’s critics have a lot more ammunition to work with than just his playoff performance. He’s a very unlikable person and I’m betting it’s even worse in person. What I’d rather see is all the critics returning to laying into Kobe like they were during the Colorado rape accusation. How he bailed out of that situation is beyond me.

    Neither of these guys is much of a team concept player and I’m just amazed that Kobe has the rings he does and there is no surprise that Lebron doesn’t have one. Don’t expect the Heat to have the kind of season next year that they had this season. This may be a one and done “effort” (and I use the term very loosely).

  3. diablito0402 - Aug 1, 2011 at 3:46 PM

    Hahaha couldnt of said it any better than that,, well put..

  4. david8726 - Aug 1, 2011 at 4:03 PM

    Kobe is right.

    Professional sports is filled with guys who have beaten their wives, been involved in drugs, and done many other unsavory activities. The only thing LeBron is guilty of is having a big ego.

    Was LeBron deserving of criticism? Yes. But, at some point you have to let it go. The amount of criticism LeBron has taken is totally disproportionate to any wrongs he’s done.

    • caseybojangles - Aug 1, 2011 at 6:12 PM

      well put. i’d probably add, while not excusing the manner in which he decided to leave cleveland as he has to take ultimate responsibility for his actions, that it probably wasn’t so much his big ego that let him down, but his team/management that led to that mess of a show on ESPN. while arguably making the best career decision for himself in leaving, he got the absolute worst mgmt advice from his people. from a pure business perspective, the person who’s idea it was for that show should have been fired on the spot. my gut tells me it was probably a leech of a friend that lebron hired that made this thing happena a la the show Entourage. anyone that got paid to handle his off court business is guilty of malpractice.

    • denverdude7 - Aug 1, 2011 at 7:45 PM

      Kobe is not right.
      Kobe stayed and didn’t become Pippen to Wade’s Jordan.

      Bron-Bron left for what he saw as an easy road to a ring.

      Either way, if the Heat win a ring it belongs to Wade not Bron-Bron.
      If the Heat don’t win a ring it will be Bron-Bron’s fault.

      Gotta love the irony….. : p

      • david8726 - Aug 1, 2011 at 11:16 PM


        LeBron is clearly the best player on the Heat. He was the MVP candidate this year, Wade wasn’t. The finals doesn’t change any of this. So enough with the “LeBron is Pippen” foolishness.

      • david8726 - Aug 1, 2011 at 11:17 PM

        Oh, and FYI your boy Kobe was demanding to be traded to Chicago before the Lakers stole Pau Gasol from Memphis. He was ready to bolt to greener pastures until the deck was stacked in his favor.

        I love the revisionist history some people try to do on this blog.

      • shakeelbashir - Aug 2, 2011 at 1:55 AM

        Kobe is 100% correct get over lebron he’s an amazing player he will end up with 3 rings easily. even if lebron was the pippen to jordans wade which he isn’t how does that burn him at all pippen was one of the best players ever so i dont see in any way how that would offend lebron, when it comes down to it he’s making millions playing alongside of the best players in the nba. finals in the first season they are together what can you expect next year? Hop off lebron’s scrotum

    • goodtimesohio - Aug 1, 2011 at 8:38 PM

      you are then saying that that Kobe is a Saint……..WOW David!

      • david8726 - Aug 1, 2011 at 11:13 PM

        Uh, where did I say that?

        God I love the internet, it brings out all the idiots who just read whatever they want to read, even if it’s not there.

  5. mikeinthevine - Aug 1, 2011 at 4:17 PM

    Waaaah, Waaah, poor LeQuit, poor Kobe. Quit your cryin’ and go get a real job.

    • caseybojangles - Aug 1, 2011 at 6:02 PM

      ha ha ha…LeQuit…i’ve never heard that one. seriously…did you think of that yourself? like it just came to you just now? Good one!!!

      here’s one for you…why shouldn’t you ask LeBron for change for a $1…because you’ll only get……huh?….what? you’ve heard that one?????? damn…i should get some new material or just STFU with the old, tired shiz.

  6. ezwriter69 - Aug 1, 2011 at 5:05 PM

    If you tattoo yourself The Chosen One, and anoint yourself and even answer your phone with “This is The King”, people are going to slam you when you fail, especially when it’s as spectacular and repeated a failure as his have been… sorry Kobe, this idiot painted the target on himself, literally, we’re all keep taking shots til he wins something. Even you don’t have the ego of this loser…

    • caseybojangles - Aug 1, 2011 at 5:55 PM

      you kidding me? kobe’s def got the el grande ego. the only difference is that he’s won it all so we all give him a pass. if kobe was a joe schmoe that i met off the street randomly and flaunted that nachos del grande ego of his, i’d B**** slap him without thinking about it.

  7. silvrwrx - Aug 1, 2011 at 5:07 PM

    there’s no question lebrons ego is huge, but yours would be too if you were scouted since the day you picked up a basketball as a kid. it also doesnt help when he made the money he did at 18. but the real question is, is he motivated by money or championships? only time will tell so until then its all talk…and what qualifies as a “real job”??? lol

  8. thetooloftools - Aug 1, 2011 at 6:26 PM

    Hey Kobe, Cleveland here.
    Shut up A-Hole.
    That fat rock you bought your lady after the fur flew told me all I need to know.
    You probably walked away because you had money, not because you were innocent.
    LeBron James said “I will not rest until I bring a championship to CLEVELAND”.
    We went nuts and LOVED him.
    No Doubt.
    He was our guy.
    Our go to man who got it and was from here and knew what it meant.
    And then he just walks off and waited till all the big free agents were signed to inflict MAXIMUM damage to Cleveland with his “decision”.
    You must be as stupid as he is if you can’t connect the dots.
    Don’t ever forget, if you didn’t have money, you could be in jail; Kobe.
    By the way, why did you change hotels that same night your deal went down if you didn’t do anything wrong?
    Shut the hell up.
    I will dog LeBron forever and if you keep yapping, your next.
    I don’t need the 2 cents of someone who should possibly be in prison if it wasn’t for their paycheck.

    • denverdude7 - Aug 1, 2011 at 7:40 PM

      100% agreement here.

      Hey Kobe, just shut your pie-hole and go play in Turkey or Iraq or wherever else you want to. Bron-Bron sold out and willingly became a second class citizen to Wade. You didn’t.

      Notice the difference now?

    • david8726 - Aug 1, 2011 at 7:48 PM

      Hey Cleveland,

      Get over it. Seriously, you all sound like a bunch of emo ex girlfriends, still spewing venom and rage more than a year after the breakup.

      LeBron did you guys wrong by doing the “decision” TV special.

      But guess what? He also did a lot of good for you guys. He was the only fun, entertaining thing coming out of your sad city for 8 years. He gave you guys a ton of good times.

      As angry as you might be, you will look back at LeBron’s tenure and realize that those were some of the best times ever to be a Cavs fan.

    • goodtimesohio - Aug 1, 2011 at 8:35 PM

      @tool……I lived in Colorado when the Kobe $hit went down, and I believe that rock cost him $400K. With the crap he and his wife pulled on his housekeeper, this guy is a great NBA player, but a LA LOSER. Kobe needs to go back to school and learn the meaning of the word “morals” and shut the frickin’ up!

    • ohiofanrick1 - Aug 2, 2011 at 1:14 PM

      this is for all the “crybaby” Cleveland Cavs fan who have nothing better to do than bash LBJ .. the reason he left had nothing to do with HIS loyalty, it has everything to do with that strange affinity that city has for keeping losers and letting winners leave.. Lebron took the Cavs to places that they never had been ..all he got in return for “help” was a ‘soon to retire’ Shaq and the third best player from the Wizards (Jamison)..all the while Garnett,Allen, Vince Carter and J kidd all changed teams ..and dont get me started on the point guard situation he had to play thru (williams and Booby) and then before he was gone ,Mr. gilbert thouight of the genius idea of firing Mike Brown .. Cleveland can rely only on the Lake erie monsters to ever win ANYTHING bcuz, like the 90’s Indians, the front office of all your sports teams thrive on keeping losers in abundance in your town.. tyvm

    • ohiofanrick1 - Aug 2, 2011 at 1:19 PM


  9. denverdude7 - Aug 1, 2011 at 7:33 PM

    Hey Kobe,

    As an incredibly talented basketball player you didn’t do the one thing Bron-Bron did. You didn’t willingly become a second fiddle to anyone just to win a ring. You stuck it out, worked to improve the other players around you and EARNED your rings.

    Simple fact of the matter is Bron-Bron Pippenized himself and will have to carry that burden for the rest of his life. Ring or no ring.

    If he wins one, it’s really Wade’s ring. If he doesn’t, it’s his fault. Bron-Bron put himself in a no-win situation and deserves every word being said about him.

  10. diablito0402 - Aug 1, 2011 at 7:53 PM

    I love kobe he is my favorite player, but he should of kept his mouth shut on this one.. How dare the best clutch player of this era defend a guy who choked in a alright cleveland team and choke in a minature allstar team,, shut up kobe and just win more rings patna…

  11. silvrwrx - Aug 1, 2011 at 8:23 PM

    kobe actually threatened to demand a trade if they didnt get him help after they traded shaq. thats after 2 years of no help lebron left after 8 years of no help.

    • david8726 - Aug 1, 2011 at 11:19 PM

      Don’t tell that to Lakers fans. They’d love for you to believe that Kobe was ALWAYS true to the lakers, even though he was ready to bolt out of LA until they puled off the Pau Gasol heist.

  12. rayrsatx - Aug 1, 2011 at 9:21 PM

    Is this the same “Kobe” that threw his teammate Shaq under the bus & criticized him when kobe got caught cheating on his wife? Mind your own life & business Kobe!

  13. goforthanddie - Aug 1, 2011 at 9:56 PM

    Nobody else noticed Kobe’s little dig there? Calling a 26-year-old a “kid”?

  14. rayrsatx - Aug 1, 2011 at 11:20 PM

    I heard an ESPN announcer compared Lebron to a “bad guy” wrestler that everyone loves to hate. In the end, King James brought it on himself & makes it worse when he opens his mouth & whines!

  15. rayrsatx - Aug 1, 2011 at 11:23 PM

    Lebron will never be the greatest unless he wins a title & that might not happen till 2012-2013 season!

  16. originalsmasher - Aug 1, 2011 at 11:36 PM

    LeLame!, LaLame!, LaLame!, LaLame!

  17. youngyankee - Aug 2, 2011 at 11:49 AM

    Cleveland fans need to let this go and stop bitching. Lebron from a business perspective lost out by going to Miami and willing to be 2nd fiddle, so I don’t think the motivation is money. The diff. btwn Kobe and Lebron? The Lakers accommodated their unhappy superstar with Pau. Cleveland really effed themselves by making that jamison trade. They went all in for a ring that year and it didn’t pan out, whether Lebron checked out of games or not.

    Nothing wrong with Lebron doing what he’s entitled to do, we don’t rag on Garnett for leaving Minnesota. Why? Because we the fans deemed it was ok for KG to go for a ring because he served X # of years to the ‘Wolves and their fans?

    And Kobe needs to STFU because if he thinks we forgot about what kind of person he is behind the glare of 5 rings, he’s as dumb as “The Decision” was.

  18. involvement82 - Aug 2, 2011 at 9:01 PM

    I love tomatoes

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