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Kobe Kriticisms

OK, it has been 13 days since I wrote my Sunday column on Kobe Bryant, in which I questioned his ability as a leader and said Lamar Odom has failed to thrive in large part because of Bryant, and I'm still getting nasty e-mails from people who, obviously, disagree.
I'll say this much, Kobe supporters can be as cruel as they are loyal (I can take it, though).

I'd like to take this opportunity to point out a few things. First, none of my views on Kobe are skewed by the fact that I now cover Shaquille O'Neal. I know Shaq has an extremely slanted view on Kobe, and it's impossible to come up with an objective opinion of Kobe while listening to Shaq. Second, I don't hate Kobe. I think he's not as fully respected as he should be because he has spent too much time trying to be someone he's not. If he didn't spend so much time trying to be Michael Jordan earlier in his career, no one would think this of him. Third, there are plenty of people that fully agree with my assessment of Kobe in that column, and not just his opposition.

Here's what I think people want to see from Kobe: Just be yourself. The last few games he has played since the suspension, he has actually done that. No transparent attempts at being everyone's best friend. No tough-guy acts. And even though he's taking as many shots as he has of late, that's fine, too. Defenses obviously haven't done enough to make him pass the ball, and Kobe has responded by taking the Allen Iverson approach: I'll score because that's what my team needs. And for the most part he has been efficient with it (maybe not the 2 of 12 start against the Clippers).
As for Lamar Odom, he'll have to learn to be more aggressive in the triangle, just like Kobe is. I still think Kobe could have done a better job of building up Lamar to this point in the season, but by now it might be too late to establish anyone, and Kobe might just have to continue to play this style for the rest of the season.

If Kobe wins MVP this year, leads his team to the Western Conference Finals and shrugs off that whole reputation as a me-first guy, then great. It would be a complete waste of such a gifted player if he doesn't do something to that effect, and I can think of only one person who wouldn't want to see that (hint: he's tall).

Now I gotta put on my bullet-proof vest and check my email again.




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