Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers Prove There is Still Loyalty in Professional Sports

By Mark Wilson
Craig Mitchelldyer-USA TODAY Sports

Michael Jordan, Dominique Wilkins, Charles Barkley, LeBron James, Clyde Drexler, Shaquille O’Neal and Karl Malone are just a few of the great players in NBA history who didn’t get to accomplish what Kobe Bryant is about to achieve.

With the signing of his contract extension, Bryant will spend his entire career with the Los Angeles Lakers. To some people that may seem like a small feat, but to the true sports fans this is a very rare. With the way that the league is set up this day and age, everything is about marketability, money and friendships. When you see specific players you can only envision them in certain uniforms. As much as I didn’t like Jordan I had to admit it was weird seeing him in a Washington Wizards uniform.

The Lakers made what many are calling a foolish decision in signing Bryant for a large amount of money. What is so foolish about it? Has Bryant not earned the right to go out in style? Has Bryant not given everything for the Lakers organization over his career? He has played through pain, hardships and with some of the toughest and stubbornest ego-maniacs in the game. Everyone wanted him to take a pay-cut so the Lakers could build towards their future. Do you really think the Mitch Kupchak does not have a plan? Kobe is not one of those superstars that put in work for a few years and starte to fade out in the later stages of his career. In some discussions Bryant can still be seen as the face of the league. The players today are not only trying to catch Jordan ring totals, but in order to get near Jordan’s they have to match Bryant’s first. Bryant is 675 points away from passing Jordan as the third all-time scorer in NBA history and is 6,770 points for eclipsing a mark many figure would be untouchable — Kareem Abdul-Jabbar‘s 38,387.

With Kobe you either love him or hate him; there is no gray area in between, and those are the traits of a great player. I hated Jordan, but I had to give him his respect as a player even when I tried my hardest not to. I remember when Julius Erving retired and the league sent him out on a season long farewell tour. Some are saying the Lakers are doing this strictly for publicity. I guess they kept him in a Lakers uniform for 17 years for publicity as well. The fans and media are so blinded by the so called super-teams that they are forgetting how rare it is to show loyalty to a player and for a player to show it back to his team.

Mark Wilson is a Brooklyn Nets writer for RantSports.com.
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