Kobe Bryant: Most Misunderstood Athlete (Eagle, MVP, Shaq, Gold)

James TurnerCorrespondent IAugust 24, 2008

    The Black Mamba...the alias known as Kobe Bryant. A man of compassion, confidence, and controversy. A lot of people has had their say about the 6' 7, Los Angeles Lakers starring guard, also known as the greatest basketball player in the world. He has now accomplished another long term goal of his and that was to win the gold medal at the Olympic games. A man who help lead his "Redeem Team" to a 118-107 victory over his Lakers teammate, Pau Gasol, and Pau's Olympic team, Spain. The game was a wild one too which saw Mr. MVP take over in the clutch. But would this be enough now for people to finally accept him as a genuine human being who is not the same man that he was five years ago.

    Now we all know that everyone isn't perfect. That's a legit fact. And those who are fans of the NBA or just respect the sport all know about Kobe Bryant. Everyone knows Kobe Bryant. The WHOLE WORLD knows Kobe Bryant. But only in America is where Kobe Bryant is hated by so many people. There aren't too many people that appreciate Kobe Bryant. And not Kobe Bryant as an athlete, but Kobe Bryant as a man.

    People will never forget about the Eagle, Colorado incident where Kobe had rape allegation charges. This is something that is never going to go away from his resume. At that point of his career, he was already dislike by many basketball fans. Then, he spoke out about Shaq's private life and how Shaq paid millions for women to shut their mouth. Shaq leaves LA the next year and then we have the most hated man in the NBA. Every away court Bryant goes to he gets booed everytime he touches the ball. Most of the NBA players didn't respect him or gave him the time of day. Then, he had to reconcile things with his wife. Kobe was at a serious low point back in 2004, all the way through last year. I'm not saying this is actual facts right here, with him being at a low point. But the Kobe Bryant we seen this year at the Olympics and this season with the Lakers as they went to another NBA Finals wasn't the same Kobe Bryant that we as fans were all accustom to. Kobe became more of a leader than he has ever been throughout his illustrious NBA career. He was there for his teammates, and more importantly, he opened up more to his teammates to show his more vulnerable side. That help make the Lakers more of a team, especially with the arrival of Derek Fisher back to LA. Kobe's close friend and only teammate he still plays with during those three championship runs. With a guy like Fisher back on the team, it helped Kobe settle down a lot more this year and be more himself to the team.

    Can you blame the man for having some selfish ways with him? Since he stepped into the NBA, he was known as the man that wanted to be like Michael Jordan. We all know Jordan is Kobe's idol, but being like Jordan is probably not what Kobe really had in mind. Being successful and having the same respect that Jordan gets is what Kobe really wants. Just like he said in that ESPN interview with Stephen A. Smith, "Just let me be me."

    That's all the man wants. But when he does things that seem genuine, people think Kobe is being fake and that's not really him. During the first round of the NBA playoffs this year against Denver Nuggets, the Lakers went up 2-0 against the Nuggets. The next day, Kobe visits a terminally ill kid for the Make-A-Wish foundation. He spent all day with the kid, sign numerous autographs, and pretty much just made this kid's life memorable for him. If you look at this segment, you can see the pure joy and sympathy from Kobe. You can tell he was emotionally attached to the two kids he visited. If people didn't know, he committed twice to Make-A-Wish foundation. I read comments on websites and from friends saying that he was being fake. That's not really Kobe Bryant as a person.

    How can you say some shit like that? Ironically, two weeks later, Shaq does a Make-A-Wish moment where he's there for a kid. This is the same Shaq who after the Lakers lost to the Celtics in the Finals this year goes on an open mic and disses Kobe about not winning a championship. This is the same Shaq who has a restraining order on him for allegations of stalking an Atlanta woman after several disturbing e-mails and phone threats surfaced. This is the same Shaq that has lost his wife because he couldn't stop committing adultery. The same Shaq that will not win another ring in the NBA. Now I respect Shaquille O'Neal and has always liked him as a person. But as of late, it seems like him and Kobe has switched roles in being the fuck up Kobe was. Kobe even dismissed Shaq's disses towards him by responding, "I've got a gold medal to win this summer." We are witnessing a man in growth in front of our very eyes.

    You see Kobe Bryant has learned from his mistakes. That's all you can ask out of a person, especially a man. Not many people can admit when they're wrong or even go on national television and apologize to his wife, family and fans. A real man who doesn't really love his wife could have just let things go. And to put the icing on the cake, Kobe Bryant was the biggest star in the whole Olympics. Not taking anything from Michael Phelps or Usain Bolt, but Kobe got the biggest reaction out of every athlete in the opening ceremony of the Beijing games. Even Lebron James and Yao Ming's ovations weren't as huge. Kobe Bryant is a mega star overseas. He's a family man. During the Olympics when they weren't playing, he was taking his wife and kids to different Olympic events, including witnessing the finals in women's soccer between US & Brazil. He just wanted to live in the moment and seized the moment for what its worth. He may not ever have a chance to be at the Olympics again.

    “People here have seen my personality more than in the States. I’ve done tours here. In the season, I’m in that Mamba mode. That switch is on. But during the summer, I’m kicking back and they get to see what a smart-ass I am. They get a chance to relate to you a lot more. Half the places you go to in the States, they’re rooting against you. Here, I think they’ve seen more of who I am.”

    Now we all make mistakes in life that we wish we could change. But do we hold on to things that happen years ago? Or do you move on from it? You can't change the past. You just learn from them and move on. You can never judge a person from what he has done in the past, but for what that person is doing with themselves since that moment. Kobe Bryant is a genuine human being who likes to keep to himself. He enjoys the game of basketball and he lives his life the way he wants it to be. The man is happy now. Something I don't think he was during his first ten years in the NBA. He just turned 30 years old. He's at a new phase in his life. He's a man thats ready to take on many things with his young life. He wants another championship. He has so much more to accomplish. Now this is a man that we should all learn to appreciate. Because just like there will never be another Michael Jordan, there will never be another Kobe Bryant.

They just judge Kobe in the pure way he judges himself.