Saturday , Jun , 09 , 2007 Oly Sandor

Kobe Bryant Has An Ally In Michael Jordan; Others Not So Understading

Kobe Bryant’s actions continue to polarize, creating many different opinions … Michael Jordan recently weighed in defending #24, while columnist Sally Jenkins feels LeBron James’ playoff success highlights Bryant’s failures as a teammate and person … What do you think? Read their arguments and give us your thoughts …

’s public meltdown is still being discussed in barbershops, bars, and around the water-cooler at work. Everybody has an opinion. And those opinions definitely vary.

The great Michael Jordan, in a recent interview with the Los Angeles Times, sympathized with Bryant:

"Frustration is a part of the game, especially with a competitor. You want to win so bad, and you’ve been there, and you want to get back there — and you feel it hasn’t really happened that way, and you look for reasons why. I think the unfortunate thing is, we judge him in a very emotional state. He’s watching these young kids continue to play, and he’s not. It gets at him. And he starts looking for reasons.”

"That’s understandable, but I think he’s got a good scenario over there — a good GM, a good coach. I understand the frustration. I never got to that point, but I can’t say that I can’t identify with it. The worst time for that to happen is now. You want to play. Who wants to be home watching basketball? You want to be out there at the most important time of the season. Then you sit down and you get frustrated and you start pointing fingers or looking for reasons why. He’ll get out of that, as basketball gets away, and summer comes. I think he’ll mellow back and understand the organization is still trying to make the right moves."

Sally Jenkins, a writer with the Washington Post, had a completely different take. In a recent column, she compared Bryant’s me-first attitude to ’ team-first approach:

“You had to feel for Kobe Bryant, sitting around in his gated, solitary life, crying, "What about me?" on the telephone to radio jockeys, while LeBron James proved himself the greater player, not to mention the better man. The ascent of James and the descent of Bryant was a fascinating subtext in the NBA playoffs last week, and it couldn’t be more obvious why their careers are going in opposite directions. One guy holds his team together, while the other guy divides his. One guy builds his franchise up. The other guy — make no mistake about it — has torn his down.”

“Bryant is now 28 years old, and he should hope to be LeBron James when he grows up. That was the verdict after watching the 22-year-old James’s revelatory, forehead-smacking performance as he carried the Cleveland Cavaliers to their first NBA Finals. Interestingly, James’s scoring was almost ornamentation; his points didn’t express the critical totality of his play against the Detroit Pistons over six games. His 48 points in Game 5 was a feat for the ages, but it was his ability to accept less, while raising others up, including young Daniel Gibson, whom he urged to a career high in Game 6, that was the difference in the series.”

My Quick Take:  And the award for most polarizing athlete in the history of professional sports goes to Kobe Bryant.

Jordan and half the world think one thing. Jenkins and the other half of the world think something entirely different.

Typical Kobe.

Bryant can never win the public relations game. The man divides fans and society like no baller I can think of.

Bryant’s responsible for this split. Kobe’s always known how good he is.  And this fueled his sense of entitlement. Remember, this is the second time #24 has requested a trade-as a seventeen year old Bryant asked the Hornets to deal him after being selected by the club in the first round of the NBA draft.

Who would have the guts, or arrogance, to do that?

Who would have the guts, or arrogance, to ask for and then rescind a trade demand in the very same day?

Kobe Bryant, of course, the world’s most divisive athlete. I don’t know if we can judge his actions. Bryant’s radio interviews show how little we actually know about the purple-and-gold cult.

I only know one thing: we’ll always watch Kobe Bryant and be split on what to make of him.

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