Role Model of the NBA: Battier vs. Kobe

Kyle HylandContributor IJuly 8, 2009

LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 06:  Shane Battier #31 of the Houston Rockets moves the ball against Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers in Game Two of the Western Conference Semifinals during the 2009 NBA Playoffs at Staples Center on May 6, 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 Harry How/Getty Images)

I think sometimes the NBA sports fans, analysts, and writers are so caught up in winning they think that the one’s who win the titles are the best role models in the NBA. We are caught up in a world that is all about winning, winning, winning, but at what cost?

We define winners as those who win titles or win games. With this logic Kobe Bryant is a winner and the biggest role model in the NBA, but I cannot think of anyone who is less of a role model.

Bryant is arguably the best player in the NBA, but he is by far one of its worst role models. If I was a coach of a young team I would not want my players to watch Kobe for one specific reason: his attitude.

I won’t even mention his off court activities because those are obvious, but when it comes to the court he blames his teammates, he cries to referees, and worst of all he plays dirty and even worse many seem to mistake his dirtiness as a winner’s attitude. Kobe is also one who will whine to the refs, his team, and his coach if he does not get what he wants; however, it is his dirty play that truly bothers me.

I’m so sick of hearing the “you can’t play aggressive without playing dirty” excuse when it comes to athletes. You can definitely play aggressive without playing dirty.

Insert: Shane Battier

Shane Battier is the opposite of Kobe Bryant. He is a player I can respectfully watch because he plays the game the way it should be played. He plays tough defense without being dirty (he is one of the NBA's best defenders) and he is a true leader that his team and the rest of the league can respect.

Insert: The 2009 Western Conference Semi-finals

The role model of the NBA Shane Battier faced off against the more popular Kobe Bryant and in game one we saw who the true role model was.

At the beginning of the game Battier went for a loose ball against Kobe after playing tough defense on him and after a foul was called on Kobe he decided to knee Battier in the face because he was frustrated with the way he was playing. Battier being the true winner that he is did not confront Kobe, but rather got up and continued to play hard.

As we all know the Rockets went on to win game 1 after a tough battle and being the true champion that he is Battier sung Kobe’s praises to reporters after the game as he did for the whole series.

Insert: Game 2 in LA

Not only did we witness the poor sportsmanship of who I thought to be a good role model in Derek Fisher, but we saw Kobe at it again with the classy Shane Battier.

Before things started with Battier we saw two of the NBA’s worst go at it in Kobe and Artest. Kobe initiated it with an elbow to Artest’s throat (something he has been suspended for twice in his career) without a technical or suspension. After Artest’s childish rant to the ref and then to Kobe, Battier went back to guarding Bryant. As Kobe hit shot after shot over Battier he decided to talk trash to the classy Battier and was rightfully hit with a T. Of course Bryant put his hands in the air wondering what he did wrong.

The fact that Kobe was confused at his technical should show you why no matter how many titles or awards Kobe wins he will never be as big a winner as Battier because Battier gives the league something it needs more than ever: a true role model.

As fans we need to look beyond titles and awards for our favorite players and instead realize that there are more important traits we need to look for in a role model for the young kids.

The few who display Battier's traits are the true winners of the NBA.