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Kobe's been pretty polarizing for his entire career.
Like Michael Jordan before him, Kobe Bryant is absurdly competitive. Guys like that tend to step on a few toes, and Bryant is no exception.
Bryant has butted heads with just about everyone in the Los Angeles Lakers organization at one point or another—Shaquille O'Neal, Pau Gasol, Phil Jackson, Andrew Bynum and most recently, Dwight Howard.
Of course, not all of the Lakers' conflicts can be blamed on Bryant, but his desire to win at all costs makes him an ill fit with many players and fans. And I think we can all admit that the "Colorado Incident" didn't do much for his reputation either.
Bryant's shoot-first nature has been roundly criticized, as well, and to be honest, there are times when he chooses to hoist up difficult jumpers rather than make the easy pass. Bryant himself told ESPNLosAngeles.com's Dave McMenamin:
I like shooting. I don't care how it comes. I like putting them up. It doesn't matter how it comes. I'm being honest.
I definitely much rather shoot it than pass it. That's just how I am.
Fair or not, that mentality has made Bryant Public Enemy No. 1 in the eyes of people who value team ball. Still, even the most ardent Bryant haters can't deny that he's phenomenally talented and has an impressive work ethic. Or that he could do just about anything and still have legions of fans willing to defend him.
Bryant's an MVP, a five-time champion and one of the greatest pure scorers in the history of the game. He may rub people the wrong way sometimes, but he's had one heck of a career doing it.