If you criticize Kobe Bryant, there's a solid chance he'll respond in a public way. Maybe not to each and every individual who points out a perceived flaw, but certainly when those flaws are being called out on a larger scale.
Shouldn't he have taken a pay cut because he hasn't proven himself post-Achilles injury? Is he worth that type of money? Wouldn't it help the Lakers if he'd signed for a smaller figure and given the franchise more financial flexibility for the upcoming offseason?
Well, Kobe doesn't think so:
The cap rules players have to be "selfless" on To "help" BILLIONAIRE owners R the same cap rules the owners LOCKED US out to put in #think— Kobe Bryant (@kobebryant) November 27, 2013
Don't just learn ur sport .. Learn the sports industry #futureathletes— Kobe Bryant (@kobebryant) November 27, 2013
Because his Twitter-speak is a little tough to understand, let me provide you with an English translation. Essentially, the Mamba is saying that calling him selfish is unjustified criticism because the only reason the money matters is the institution of a salary cap. And that cap is due to the NBA owners, who locked out the league for the right to implement the self-instituted cap.
In the mind of Vino, it shouldn't be his responsibility to fix the owners' problem by taking less money, especially when it's their fault that a concept like having to take less money is even considered in the first place.
Billionaires should be taking financial blows, not multimillionaires.
Most of us have aspirations for being businessmen when our playing careers are over. But that starts now. You have to be able to wear both hats. You can't sit up there and say, 'Well, I'm going to take substantially less because there's public pressure, because all of a sudden, if you don't take less, you don't give a crap about winning. That's total [expletive].
I'm very fortunate to be with an organization that understands how to take care of its players, and put a great team out on the floor. They've figured out how to do both.
Most players in this league don't have that. They get stuck in a predicament – probably intentionally done by the teams – to force them to take less money. Meanwhile, the value of the organization goes through the roof off the backs of their quote, unquote selfless players.
It's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard.
On top of that, it's not like Kobe haggled with the Lakers until they arrived at such an exorbitant figure. Allegedly, the $48.5 million was the number he was presented with, and no negotiations took place. He simply saw the number and signed on the dotted line.
Kobe: "The only number that I saw was the number that I agreed to."— Mark Medina (@MarkG_Medina) November 26, 2013
As B/R's Dan Favale wrote, "The Lakers apparently came at Kobe with a number, and he accepted that number. If you're going to be mad at someone, look at the Lakers. Blame them for padding Kobe's bank accounts with too much green salad."
And despite the apparent need for blame, the Lakers are still in good shape, according to Kobe:
The All-Star 2-guard is almost correct. They don't have quite enough space to sign Carmelo Anthony to a max deal without a little bit of financial finagling, as Larry Coon—the unquestioned master of all things CBA—breaks down here. But they're still doing just fine.
Do you think Kobe was selfish for accepting such a huge contract?
The moral of the story is as follows: Kobe isn't to blame here.
It's as simple as that, and that's all the Mamba means by his tweet. Sure, he could be commenting on the larger injustice (in his mind) that is the owner-mandated CBA. He might also be hinting that he's upset with the fact that he isn't yet a billionaire.
But at the heart of it all, Kobe just wants everyone to know he isn't the bad guy in this situation.