Kobe Bryant: the worst thing to happen to basketball (as of late)

January 24, 2006

So Kobe scores 81 points in a game. Of course I respect the skills of such a great player, and Kobe is indeed great. I was initially surprised by all the media hype, but then I reminded myself that we live in a culture of quick fixes. While everyone drops their jaws at Kobe’s performance, has anyone besides Vince Carter (who said this is bad for basketball) stopped to ever think about the consequences that this will have on the future of basketball?

I am 29 years-old. I grew up playing basketball at times from 10 AM to 10 PM. I chose not to pursue it because I wanted to show young people that there were other ways to excel other than through entertainment. I have never let go of my love of the game. It is starting to fade now the way I see the game changing and the impact it has on young people. I am not on every court in the country, but I am very familiar with how our young folks see basketball.

In many parts of our inner cities across the country, our youth think of basketball as a one-man sport. The idea of Woody Harrelson’s comments from White Men Can’t Jump rings true: “Black men want to look good first and win second.” This mentality leads to many kids believing that the way to excel in basketball is to shoot first, second, and third, and maybe win fourth. The way Kobe is getting attention these days, more and young people will see this and aspire to do the same.

Why is it that we are praising Kobe more than we are praising the Detroit Pistons? They are the ultimate team and are approaching a 70-win season. If we celebrated them, more young people would want to practice the team concept and know it was a way to win and be celebrated. Why is no one talking about Kobe’s teammates standing by and not advancing their own skills as a player? Is he making his team better by outscoring them?

Lastly, all the comparisons to Michael Jordan needs to stop. Scoop Jackson even compared him to Tupac. C’mon. Until Kobe leads his team to consecutive championships (as in NBA Finals MVP), he should not be compared to MJ, who won 6 championships as the MVP and never even played a game seven in the Finals. Michael Jordan became the greatest when he embraced the team concept and Phil Jackson knows this, so it is odd for him to allow Kobe to play like this. Maybe the Zen-master feels he needs to let Kobe get this out of his system.

Long story short, there have been other great scorers in the NBA. Kobe’s performance is indeed spectacular, but his selfishness is bad for the game of basketball. We call AI selfish for his shot selection, but since Kobe has a higher percentage, I guess it’s OK. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Kobe break Wilt Chamberlin’s record before it’s all said and done. If it happens, I won’t be as impressed as I thought I would be. From what I see, defense has become worse in the NBA since the mid-90s, now that so many players have lucrative contracts before they’ve even dribbled a ball. The Jordan years (particularly the earlier years) was the last era where we saw contracts based on earning it in the league. I could probably score a good 30-35 points in a game nowadays with my rusty self. I’d prefer to make the news however, if I had a triple-double. At least my teammates would have been involved.

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