By: Opinionated MJ
I am a Kobe Bryant fan. I have been there throughout all his ups and downs. From his draft day and continuing through now. He was the next in line after Jordan to me. He stepped into Jordan’s space when Jordan retired for me as a fan. Now I see KD or Russell Westbrook carrying that torch when Kobe is done. More likely Russell. Anyway, I’ve been a fan throughout all of the criticisms and throughout all of the early naysayers. You know:
“He’s not better than AI. He’s not better than T-Mac. He’s not better than Vince Carter. He’s not going to win a championship. He’s a ball hog. He doesn’t pass the ball. He won’t win like Michael. He won’t be a leader. He won’t win a second championship. He won’t win a third championship. That thing in Denver, yeah, he did that! He did that! He’s going to jail. He’s a r*****. He’s not one of the best of all time. He won’t win without Shaq. He doesn’t impact his teammates. He’s not a likable person. He’s egotistical. He’s too selfish. He only wants to win on his terms. He took too much money. No one wants to play with him. No one likes Kobe.”
The charges are almost endless. I didn’t agree with those as a super die-hard fan of Kobe’s. I’ve since cooled but I am still very much in Kobe’s corner but now I’m also very realistic. My reality is simple though and looks past all of the prior things people would’ve said, past all of the personal things, past things that don’t relate to Kobe Bryant when he is on the court. Super simple: Facilitate or Retire.
Let it rain in, “Oh! You’re no Kobe fan!!” I very much am. I’ve been a witness to all of his successes and all of his failures. The only time you could question that is when he played the Detroit Pistons and lost. Come on, it’s the home team. He had to lose that one. You can’t win them all right? I’ve seen the duels against everyone they tried to make be “Kobe Stoppers.” HAHAHAHAHA! Ruben Patterson, Raja Bell (did the best job on him, IMO), Ron Artest, Bruce Bowen, Doug Christie, Matt Barnes, Tony Allen, and I know there’s more I’m missing but you get it.
He’s overcome all the obstacles and things people said he couldn’t do. He even used it in a manifesto for inspiration, twice. The man’s work ethic is second to none, literally. So why, really, how could I call on Kobe to retire? Well, he isn’t truly known to facilitate but he does have a nickname as “facilitator Kobe” that we’ve all forgotten because he is a scorer first, second, and third. He needs to be more of a player that’s going to threaten defenses near the rim and set his team up for easy shots, cuts, and drop in passes. He’s built to do this. He’s known widely as a scorer and no one would dare leave him open unless he was shooting 10% from the field on the season.
Imagine what he could do if he operated from where LeBron operated in the NBA Finals. Mid-post area to either score close to the basket, get to the basket using his footwork and fundamentals, or kicking it to an open or cutting teammate. It’s almost too easy. I’m not asking him to be LeBron, I never did. There are things that LeBron can’t do, Kobe can and vice versa at this point. Prime Kobe could do anything, but not now. I also think that Kobe may actually be one of the most dominant post players in the league only 3rd behind Tim Duncan and Demarcus Cousins. May sound like a reach but do your research. We can argue and debate, but do your reasearch about Kobe close to the basket. I’m not too interested in seeing him hoist Steph Curry distance 3 pointers, nor super contested long 2 pointers.
Kobe needs to understand that simple is better as his career winds down. He needs to allow these rookies to prove and teach them how to overcome their mistakes and become better players. Kobe has always improved his teammates whether you believe it or not. His hard bargain driving, superman work ethic, and dedication to the game rub off on everyone unless you’re just a super lazy, weak-minded individual. It’s gold to be able to be playing alongside Kobe. Practicing, watching film, and everything else that comes with it. He’s one of the last students of the game who can actually untap your potential without even actively being LeBron-esque or Jason Kidd-esque, Steve Nash-esque, or Magic Johnson-esque. I’m not asking him to turn into some superhero point guard either, I’m asking him to allow his teammates to become, well, his teammates. He doesn’t have to hijack every game if they brick 7 straight shots. He doesn’t have to let his takeover gene kick in when they fail on a few assignments. Jordan Clarkson wouldn’t have developed if it wasn’t for Kobe having to sit the rest of the season. That’s my honest opinion. No All Rookie First Team for him. He statistically matched Andrew Wiggins during the second half of the season. Having Kobe is gold, having Kobe be a mentor and a guide as you play is almost like having a diamond. His knowledge is worth more than anything else that anyone could provide. Who could better teach them? NO ONE! Phil Jackson doesn’t coach, LeBron doesn’t want to teach kids nor sit through a rebuild or he would’ve at least kept Wiggins around, and Durant, Russell, and other teams don’t have someone who could honestly teach these kids the ropes better than Kobe? Who would actually improve them by being hard on them, like a parent? Who would actually DEMAND that they show up or shut up? Who would actually tell them that they’re as soft as Charmin during practice? LOL! KOBE! KOBE! KOBE! KOBE! KOBE! KOBE!
Enough. Kobe… Facilitate or retire.