So apparently Kobe has decided to grace all of us Laker fans with his continued presence in the purple and gold. Sweet. This entire thing is wrong on so any levels it’s sickening. I have to say right off, though, that I have defended Kobe this past year. I didn’t ever jump onto the selfish bandwagon, or the rapist bandwagon, or any other detractor-type thing with Kobe. He is one hell of a player to watch, and I feel like I can seperate that from him allegedly being a bad person. But I also don’t roll with a gigantic oversized Laker jersey with a number 8 on the back of it either. Basically, I am a Laker fan, not a Kobe fan, just like I’m a Dodger fan and not a Shawn Green fan, or a Raider fan and not a Charles Woodson fan. Hopefully, you get it.
The Lakers have had a damn good run the past few years, winning three titles, and getting to the Finals this year. It was a great ride for us fans, and I would think that the people that really pay attention to the game would know that the team made it because they had two of the best players in the game, plus a bunch of guys who could step up and do great things at the right moment to win ballgames. It was a team effort anchored by superstars. It was the same way the Bulls won titles in the nineties. But there was a little difference in the two teams.
The Bulls, despite all the scottie Pippen talk in their heyday, were Jordan’s team. Jordan was the man, and he elevated the Bulls to a level they had never seen before. He was bigger than the team, and to an extent, he was bigger than the sport. He was really that good. When Shaq and Kobe hooked up for the first title, there was a lot of talk about Kobe being a rising star. As they won the next two, he began to get the comparisons to Jordan. Sure, he was athletic, fast, and could hit the most outrageous shots you’ve seen, and he could do it often, which is what drew people to him. But the comparison, aside from being a little premature, never quite fit. That’s because Kobe was never bigger than the Lakers. Nobody was bigger than the Lakers. while Shaq was in town, he was the leader, and even he wansn’t bigger than the Lakers. See, the Lakers had tradition. They had seen greatness. And in that previous greatness, there was still no one player that was bigger than the organization.
I compared it tonight to the Yankees. Sure, the Yankees are the greatest franchise in sports history. No player since Babe Ruth could lay claim to being bigger than the organization. What I mean is that no player could drive policy, hold the team hostage, or whatever. If you wanted to hold out in training camp as a Yankee, you wouldn’t be one for long. They don’t play that game. If you’re a Bengal, or a Bull, you can really screw things up by holding out. Today, buy re-signing Kobe, the Lakers gave in to a single player. Kobe is now bigger than the Lakers. He has them by the balls. A seven year deal means that Kobe is in charge now. Shaq is gone (thanks to Kobe’s selfish play and constant bitching, and don’t get me wrong, Shaq bitched too), so Kobe’s the man.
What saddens me the most about this is that when Kobe is gone, just as when Jordan left, the team will be shit. Hell, they may be shit with him, but I’m guessing they’ll have just enough success that they’ll survive. Kobe will probably start asking for more money in two or three years, and if they don’t give it to him, he’ll sit out, get hurt, whatever. That’s what happens when you have a player that’s bigger than the team.