Heavy Lies the Head That Wears the Crown; Quietly Kobe Bryant Still Rules

Kwame Fisher-Jones@@joneskwameContributor IIIMarch 28, 2011

ATLANTA, GA - MARCH 08:  Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers waits for game introductions to face the Atlanta Hawks at Philips Arena on March 8, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia.  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 Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

“When I first came into the league it was Jordan it was Drexler. Then I’ve seen the A.I. era. Then I’ve seen the Vince/McGrady era. Now the Lebron James/D-Wade era and I have been here the whole time…They try to put the nail in the coffin but I’m still breathing…They still don’t get it.”

Kobe Bryant on the Max and Marcellus show 710ESPN LA

His dominance is undeniable. His competitive desire is insatiable.

For over a decade, Kobe Bean Bryant has ruled the NBA hardwood, yet it has gone underappreciated.

Many have tried to ignore arguably the greatest guard to ever play the game, but it is impossible.

Kobe’s career numbers are nice, but not gaudy. Too many times, the world salutes consistent mediocrity. Too many times, people who have not accomplished the ultimate goal are treated as if they have.

What Bryant has done in his 14-year career cannot be measured by numbers, but rather by results.

In his term, the Lakers have made the playoffs 13 out of 14 years. They have won at least 65 percent of their games 10 out of those 13 years. To say he has been a model of consistency would be an understatement; rather, Bryant’s teams have been consistently great.

Winning has always been first on Bryant’s to do list.

He has never been bashful in displaying his desire to win and has never been concerned with other people’s feeling when voicing those desires. Whether it is telling Shaquille O’Neal to get his “fat butt in shape” or publicly telling the Lakers management they need to get better players around him after a playoff loss. Safe to say, Bryant and kind will never be teammates.

However, throughout his career he has put winning first. There was no question that early in his career he deferred to Shaq for the betterment of the team. There is no question he could have taken the T-Mac route and never developed his game, being nothing more than a scorer, but the Laker guard wanted to be the best player in the world on the best team in the world.

At times, he has come across as the rich kid who has had everything handed to him and does not know how to handle adversity.

Perhaps Bryant was lucky to get traded on draft day to the greatest professional sports team in modern day history. Maybe Kobe is lucky to play for the greatest owner in professional sports. Some say luck is nothing more than opportunity meeting preparation.

Few have worked harder at their craft and at being prepared then the Bean. Thus, few have tasted the nectar of success as frequently as Bryant.

With that said, the spoils of victory seemed to have skipped Mr. Bryant.

Only Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson have experienced a career of complete dominance. People should argue all day about who’s the greatest ball player: Jordan, Bryant or Johnson.

Instead, they lump Bryant in with other players who have not sniffed the type of success he has. In his prime, Kobe heard the Vince Carter and Tracy McGrady argument; lack of team wins and durability killed those two.

Then, there were the years of A.I. or should I say the year of A.I. One Finals appearance a pension to party and a disdain for practice faded that comparison away.

Now, still in his prime, it is the LeBron James argument. Even in high school, there were people who felt Tim Thomas and Lester Earl were better players and in Philly, there were the Donnie Carr backers.

When Bryant came to LA, there were whispers that he would be better than Jordan. The whispers became distinct voices as he career blossomed, yet the acclaim had failed to meet the achievement.

Many felt he had not earned the right to be compared to such an icon. Over time, Kobe has proven those early observers to be prophetic. Now with a new wave of superstars, people still try to question Bryant and compare him with the next hot thing in town.

Instead of appreciating what we are all “witnessing,” we have taken it for granted.

For all his teams’ accomplishments and for all his late game heroics, the Laker holds just one MVP trophy. His singular MVP trophy gives an indication of how he is viewed in the national media.

Many seem to view him as, "Yeah but...he is good but this cat is better. He can score but insert name here can really score."

This year’s flavor is Derrick Rose. He has been crowned as the current superstar and is certain to be named MVP at regular season’s end. Is Rose more valuable to the Bulls then Bryant is to the Lakers that is debatable?

What is not debatable are their numbers; they both average 25 points a game. Bryant has more rebounds per game and Rose has more assists per game. Rose shoots 43 percent, while Bryant shoots 45 percent and both teams have 53 wins.

The difference is Rose’s team is first in their conference while the Lakers are in second, which says more about the conference then it does about the teams. This should at least put Bryant in the conversation for MVP.

Much like previous years, Kobe’s success is either ignored or discarded.

Another Lakers regular season filled with strife and success will come to an end on April 13. Then the real season begins, the season in which all Lakers’ teams are ultimately judged.

At stake for this Lakers’ bunch is an opportunity to play in four straight NBA finals and the chance to three-peat as NBA Champions. This is what Kobe Bean Bryant is concerned with.

To borrow a phrase from a popular movie: “Either they don’t know don’t show or don’t care about what’s going on in the hood.”

A bit dramatic but accurate nonetheless, what he has accomplished in his 14 year NBA career is remarkable. The consistency at which he has accomplished these things is unfathomable.

Fourteen years of grind over glory is what appears to accompany Bryant on his trip to the basketball Hall of Fame; here is hoping that by then, he finally receives his glory.



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