After Winning His Fifth Ring, Lakers Bryant Still Gets No Respect

Stacey MicklesCorrespondent IIJune 20, 2010

LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 17:  Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers celebrates after the Lakers defeated the Boston Celtics in Game Seven of the 2010 NBA Finals at Staples Center on June 17, 2010 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 Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

As I woke up Sunday morning, I had the displeasure of listening to the talking heads on ESPN discuss Kobe Bryant on the Sports Reporters.

Mike Lupica, Bob Ryan, John Saunders and some dude, whom I’ve never heard of from the Miami Herald, barely even acknowledged the LA Lakers winning their 17th Championship. They skipped right over that, to take their shots at Kobe Bryant.

Ryan said right off the back “Well, he’ll never be Michael Jordan.” Got news for you Bob, the game did exist before Michael Jordan came along. Before Jordan went on his run, there was Magic and Bird who brought the NBA back off life support back in the day. Oh and Russell and Chamberlain, Dr. J, Jerry West, Kareem and many more who deserve to be acknowledged for their contributions to the game.

I get tickled when I hear that our generation is the here and now generation, but these guys get on these shows and act like the only great player to ever play the game was Michael Jordan when in truth, Michael didn’t win a championship WITHOUT Phil Jackson either; just like Kobe.

And just like Jordan, Kobe didn’t win a championship without a great supporting cast around him. Jordan didn’t win another championship without Scottie Pippen, but no one wants to mention that because it’s Michael Jordan. Kobe has won with Shaq and without him; Jordan didn’t.

And while we are on the subject of Shaq, let me say this: the media still believes to this day that Kobe ran Shaq out of LA, but people tend to forget, Shaq wanted OUT of LA because his ego wouldn’t allow him to play second fiddle to Kobe.

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Also, they want to sweep under the rug that Shaq called out Kobe last year with a rap saying Kobe would NEVER win another championship without him; guess what Shaq? He has done it TWICE without you. But again because Shaq is Shaq, a likeable guy, Kobe looks like the bad guy because he said he has won another championship without him which is true by the way.

Then I heard the best insult of the day, by the little dude from the Miami Herald. “If Kendrick Perkins had played we wouldn’t be having this discussion.” So let me get this straight, you can dog out Kobe for playing poorly in that game, but not Paul Pierce who guaranteed they wouldn’t be back in LA, or Kevin Garnett who didn’t show up in the fourth quarter either, but the Celtics LOST because Perkins didn’t play?

Not because the Lakers played better defense and their role players stepped up, but because Perkins didn’t play. Andrew Bynum played hurt all through the series, and the Lakers still won. So, the Celtics weren’t the only ones without their big man.

I think the best line from the whole series came from Jeff Van Gundy about Kobe Bryant. He basically said because Kobe doesn’t kiss the butt of the media or isn’t as media friendly, he doesn’t get acknowledged as being one of the greatest players of all time in the NBA.

I’m not saying Kobe doesn’t have an ego and was very immature at times in his career, but if we are going to acknowledge those things, let’s also acknowledge how he has matured over the years.

How he has become less of a selfish player who actually loves and appreciates his teammates, something the great Michael Jordan barley did in his Hall of Fame speech last year. Jordan didn’t thank Scottie Pippen for being his wing man nor Phil Jackson for helping him become great.

You don’t become great by yourself, maybe that’s something the media and Jordan still haven’t learned and Kobe has.

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