Tuesday , Jan , 03 , 2006 C.Y. Ellis

For The Love Of Basketball 54th edition

Damn that was fast!

Another year in the books… another on the horizon. 2006 is here, ready for the taking.

But the million-dollar question is: Who’s ready to take it?

After the dawn of a new annum, everyone follows the age-old tradition of making a resolution and then struggle to stick to the script. And that doesn’t exclude me, so this year I’ve decided not to make a single resolution. Instead I’m just gonna do what I feel. You know, try to base everything on instinct and just go for what I know. I figure why not? For most of my life I’ve tried to calculate everything before I acted on it and it’s a relatively safe method of conduct, but not always rewarding or exciting.
So for the Oh-Six, I say throw caution to the wind (without losing your senses) and see what happens. And with that in mind, I think one NBA player in particular should follow suit and do the same. You are who you are, be it, do it, and let the criticism of the critics fall on deaf ears.
Kobe Bryant, I’m speaking to you. Because let’s face it, you can’t win. As hard as you try to do and say the right thing, people always seem to turn it into something negative. 
–They hate you because you grew up in Italy and not the hood.
–They hate you because you went to the league instead of college.
–They hate you because you went to the regal LA Lakers instead of the not so storied Charlotte Hornets.
–They hate you because you have supreme confidence in your ability.
–They hate you because you strive to be greater than Michael Jordan.
–They hate you because your wife is Latina.
–They hate you because Shaq says you’re the reason he’s no longer a Californian.
–They despise you because you brought up Shaq’s name in your Colorado mess (I guess you can’t fault them for that).
–They hate you because you wear tights under your shorts.
Kobe’s selfish… Kobe’s arrogant… Kobe caused the national deficit.
The list goes on and on and on.
You’re the most polarizing figure in professional sports. There’s no middle ground with you. The people either love you or hate you…period. And since we’re this late in the game, there is nothing you can do to change the sentiment of your detractors. 
The media? Forget it, Shaq has them (Stephen A. Smith, Dan LeBatard, Bill Plaschke, John Saunders, etc.) in his back pocket. 
The people? Once the notion that you were possibly better than Jordan (which the media started by the way) arose; it was lights out for you. To be compared is dangerous; to be considered superior is sacrilege.  
So if you ask me, I say you need to develop the “Eff It Mentality.” Just embrace the hate and keep it movin’. You’re an incredible basketball player with an uncanny ability to score; it’s what you do best. But people can’t accept that. They want to gripe about you not passing the ball enough and you not believing in your teammates’ skills as much as you do your own. And then when you do give up the rock and look for the other cats in purple and gold and they don’t deliver, the haters knock your leadership abilities and say you need to shoot the ball more.
Do you think if Allen Iverson or Dirk Nowitzki scored 62 points in three quarters (an incredible feat by the way) they would’ve heard a hint of criticism? Of course not! Everyone would’ve been sucking their knee caps and licking their boots. But you do it and they go out of their way to find fault.
–He robbed history; Kobe should’ve gone for 80!
–Kobe didn’t have any assists–He’s a ball hog.
And we both know that if you went back in the game in the fourth quarter… with a 30-point lead… and the outcome already decided… the haters would’ve KILLED YOU!!!
See what I mean? Like I said earlier and to quote Adrianne in Rocky IV, “YOU CAN’T WIN!” 
Those people have made their stand in the ‘Hate Him or Love Him’ debate so just leave them be and stop worrying about changing their respective minds. Besides, you have plenty of love out there. Your jersey is a top five seller, you’re second to Yao Ming in all star votes, and people will definitely buy your new Nike shoes and apparel. Just concentrate on validating why those folks support you.
–Be flashy.
–Play hard.
–Shoot the rock A LOT!
–Dazzle the audience.
–Do what you have to do to win.
–Acknowledge the boos like a WWE wrestler.
–And welcome the hate.

It’s 2006 Kobe, just be you and let everything else fall where it may.