Friday , Dec , 04 , 2009 Oly Sandor

Kobe Bryant’s career: love, hate, and love

The love became hate, though. The shift began when he and Shaquille O’Neal feuded for control of the Lakers. Bryant may have won the World Wars with O’Neal, but lost the support of the public when the post and coach Phil Jackson blamed him for their departures …

Kobe Bryant's career: love, hate, and loveMy Quick Take: Kobe Bryant’s career can be described as love, hate, and love.

Initially, it was love. Sure, there were flashes of teenage arrogance, but Bryant’s journey from prep school prodigy to NBA superstar mostly captivated. And playing in the media capital of Los Angeles, for the all-mighty Lakers, only magnified the championships, All-Star game appearances, and individual accolades.

The love became hate, though. The shift began when he and Shaquille O’Neal feuded for control of the Lakers. Bryant may have won the World Wars with O’Neal, but lost the support of the public when the post and coach Phil Jackson blamed him for their departures.

Then there was ‘The Incident’ in Colorado, which was followed by a pair of disappointing seasons for the purple-and-gold. Around this time, Bryant requested a trade, rescinded his trade request, and re-requested a trade. Even the Staples Center faithful were booing him.

Obviously, the love has returned. In late 2007, the Lakers emerged as contenders and became even stronger when Pau Gasol was stolen from the sad-sack Memphis Grizzlies. Bryant, once and for all, re-rescinded his trade request, then won the Most Valuable Player award, an Olympic gold medal, and fourth NBA championship.

Well, this week, the love continued.

On Wednesday, Bryant was named the league’s best player in a survey conducted by The Sporting News, who polled league executives, current players, and retired Hall of Fame players. By the way, Bryant didn’t just win, he easily topped rival LeBron James by a 2-1 margin.

Recognition from fans or media is probably nice. Having the best of his peers name him the  very best is an honor for Bryant. And one that’s well-deserved.

Below is the rest of The Sporting News’ list. Read it over and tell us if Bryant is the NBA’s best player and get at us with any other thoughts in the opinion box.

SN’s TOP 50 PLAYERS

1. K obe Bryant, SG, Lakers
2. LeBron James, SF, Cavaliers
3. Dwyane Wade, SG, Heat
4. Dwight Howard, C, Magic
5. Tim Duncan, PF, Spurs
6. Chris Paul, PG, Hornets
7. Kevin Garnett, PF, Celtics
8. Dirk Nowitzki, PF, Mavericks
9. Carmelo Anthony, SF, Nuggets
10. Paul Pierce, SF, Celtics
11. Steve Nash, PG, Suns
12. Deron Williams, PG, Jazz
13. Tony Parker, PG, Spurs
14. Brandon Roy, SG, Trail Blazers
15. Yao Ming, C, Rockets
16. Shaquille O’Neal, C, Cavaliers
17. Pau Gasol, PF, Lakers
18. Chris Bosh, PF, Raptors
19. Amare Stoudemire, PF, Suns
20. Chauncey Billups, PG, Nuggets
21. Kevin Durant, SF, Thunder
22. Manu Ginobili, SG, Spurs
23. Jason Kidd, PG, Mavericks
24. Tracy McGrady, SG, Rockets
25. Joe Johnson, SG, Hawks
26. Derrick Rose, PG, Bulls
27. Ray Allen, SG, Celtics
28. Gilbert Arenas, PG, Wizards
29. Ron Artest, SF, Lakers
30. Vince Carter, SG, Magic
31. Danny Granger, SF, Pacers
32. Baron Davis, PG, Clippers
33. Devin Harris, PG, Nets
34. Ben Gordon, SG, Pistons
35. Al Horford, C, Hawks
36. Carlos Boozer, PF, Jazz
37. Nene, C, Nuggets
38. Rajon Rondo, PG, Celtics
39. Andre Iguodala, SG, 76ers
40. Josh Smith, PF, Hawks
41. Rudy Gay, SF, Grizzlies
42. Hedo Turkoglu, SF, Raptors
43. Lamar Odom, SF, Lakers
44. Shane Battier, SF, Rockets
45. Elton Brand, PF, 76ers
46. Richard Jefferson, SF, Spurs
47. O.J. Mayo, SG, Grizzlies
48. Charlie Villanueva, PF, Pistons
49. Michael Redd, SG, Bucks
50. Andrew Bynum, C, Lakers

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