Kobe Bryant: Dirty Player Or Dirtiest Player?

Josh DugganCorrespondent IMay 22, 2009

LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 21:  Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers wipes his face in the second quarter against the Denver Nuggets in Game Two of the Western Conference Finals during the 2009 NBA Playoffs at Staples Center on May 21, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

Obviously, there is a fairly extensive history of cheap and dirty plays in Kobe Bryant's career. 

Simply put, if Bryant's play were a nice suit, that suit would be lined with so much fecal matter no amount of Martinizing would rid that suit of the stench it is burdened with.

It seemed like every other week while the Lakers were scuffling a few years back, Bryant was trying to manufacture a drawn foul from thin air, going out of his way to create contact while flailing around on perimeter shots, leaving dazed Marko Jarics, Kyle Korvers, and Manu Ginoblis in his path.

Or you could look back to just the last series.  A Kobe cheap shot to Ron Artest's throat ended up leading to an Artest ejection (an unjustified one at that).  Bryant elbows were also flying the game prior, dubiously lashing out at Shane Battier. 

During Game Two of the Western Conference Finals—which this writer happens to think the Nuggets will win in six—a particular play sticks out as being yet another in a long line of dirty plays that goes completely without comment.  

Everyone always talks about how dirty guys like Bill Laimbeer or Bruce Bowen or Robert Horry are/were.  There are certainly parties who say the same about Bryant, but his skill set is such that it largely overshadows his pervasive filthiness. 

Case in point:  On a Carmelo Anthony miss from 26 feet, Bryant violently pushed Dahntay Jones with two hands from behind to throw Jones out of bounds and get the rebound.  He turned, dribbled, and fed the breaking Trevor Ariza down court for a lay-up to go up 70-64 with 5:09 to go in the third. 

On the push, Jones went flying out of bounds, out of control.  When Mike Breen & Co. were breaking down the play in replay, not one person—not Mike Breen, not Jeff Van Gundy, not Mark Jackson—mentioned the fact that Kobe committed the loose ball foul.

No one even joked that Bryant got away with one there. 

They just lauded Bryant for the pass.

Maybe they realize if they pointed out every little cheap shot Bryant unfurled on his opponents, they would not get to talk about anything else. 

Unfortunately, that probably is not the case.  Bryant is a star; a cheap star, but a star.  Not only is he going to get preferential treatment from the refs, he is bound to get that same care from the announcers.

It is too bad Bryant is not held more accountable for his dirty ways.