No one in the history of the NBA has gone from hero to villain in such a short span of time than LeBron James. Beginning with "The Decision"—his hour-long TV special—and ending with the statement that the Miami Heat would win "Not one, not two, not three, not four, not five, not six, not seven" championships, LeBron has truly gone from hero to zero in a period of a year.
After losing in this year's finals to the Dallas Mavericks, LeBron has forcefully come down to earth and the constant criticism from fans and the media haven't stopped. But when the entire world seemed to have teamed up on King James, Kobe Bryant unexpectedly tells everyone to "lay off the kid."
In a recent interview with ESPN, Kobe told the media, "I've gotten to know him pretty well, playing with the Olympic team, and I think they just need to back off him and just let him play and let him live his life and let him make his decisions and let him mature as a player."
Before all you newly converted "LeBron haters" alongside the already largely amassed group of original "LeBron haters" come out and question Kobe for his antics, I assure you, it's nothing more than it seems. Kobe is simply telling the media and fans to lay off LeBron a bit—however difficult it may be.
Now this may have been understandable for anyone else not named Kobe, but the fact is, LeBron's biggest competitor was the one to come out and say such a thing—not Erik Spoelstra, not Dwyane Wade, and certainly not any Miami Heat fan; it was Kobe and Kobe alone.
What Kobe has essentially done is comparable to Rocky becoming friends with Apollo Creed, Harry Potter helping Draco Malfoy and any other movie in which good and evil end up teaming together. The bottom line is, Kobe stood up for arguably the most hated men in basketball, and on top of that, the player is someone has arguably taken some of the spotlight away from Kobe himself—some even going as far as questioning whether Kobe was as good as LeBron.
Kobe has officially stuck his neck out for his former Olympic teammate and biggest rival, and only in the near future will we see if there are repercussions of his simple, though consequential statements. Whether or not you agree with Kobe's actions to protect LeBron, the potential consequences are waiting to jump out any minute, just like they will be if Kobe decides to play overseas; but that's a whole other discussion.
So, for now, accept what happened and move on, just like you swallowed "The Decision" and all that has happened in the course of the NBA season heading into the drought that is the 2011 NBA lockout.