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Sunday, June 17, 2018

The Lakers Will Win, for Kobe’s Scowl Will Not Let Them Down

One of the big themes the media has latched onto for the postseason this year is Kobe Bryant’s attitude. Moreover, they concentrate on Kobe’s demeanor and emotion on the court. I really think it’s impossible to be a sports fan and not hear about Kobe’s “look of determination” which tells people that he “wants to win.” I feel like tossing a chair Bob Knight-style every time I hear this. Just take this opening paragraph following the Lakers’ Game 1 win:

Magic Johnson had his magnetic smile. Michael Jordan soared to the basket with his tongue hanging out. Kobe Bryant is baring his teeth and scowling in these NBA finals.

His young daughters don’t think much of Daddy’s attitude around the house, calling him Grumpy, as in the Seven Dwarfs.

The kind of stuff I’ve been reading and hearing lately makes me wonder if any of these media members or fans have ever watched basketball before, specifically the Lakers — I don’t think they have. It’s an insult to Kobe to suggest that he wants it more now than he did before, or that he’s trying harder now than in the past, or that he’s more determined this year than he’s ever been. Kobe Bryant has always wanted to win. Kobe Bryant has always worked his butt off in the gym. Kobe Bryant has always wanted his teammates to step up their game in crunch time. None of this is new and to suggest he has more desire now belittles the effort he put forth earlier in his career, including last year. Even his teammate Robert Horry said the same thing Tuesday morning on with Dan Patrick. Unfortunately the media doesn’t see it that way because they want to create an image that fits nicely into this year’s story.

Are you sure that Kobe’s not just having more success in the Finals this year because last year’s Celtics were one of the best defensive teams ever and this year’s Magic team throws Mickael Pietrus and Courtney Lee at him? Are you sure the scowl isn’t there during losses but only wins? Did Courtney Lee’s layup not fall because Kobe wanted it more? If you want to tell me that some of the other younger, less-experienced Lakers are more determined this year because they learned what it takes to win last year, then I can buy that. Just don’t tell me Kobe wants to win it this year and he’s more determined — that undermines everything he’s done throughout his brilliant career.

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