Kobe Bryant is a born winner. Throughout his career, he has always played by the notion of winning is anything. He won championships as part of one of the greatest duos in NBA history. He won another two as the outright leader of the team, all while according to the twittersphere, being “a bad teammate.”
Bryant has his flaws. His intensity and expectations of others is seen as a blessing or a curse depending on who is telling the story. The relationship between Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal was famously dicey but despite that, the professionalism of the pair resulted in championships.
Bryant has his fans who follow him in blind faith, but for those who don’t, his desire, professionalism and will to be the very best he can is something you can’t deny. Part of that desire is accepting nothing less than championships every year. Bryant isn’t happy — only more motivated — every time the Lakers aren’t winning in June.
As a result of his unhappiness, Bryant isn’t as overjoyed for Tim Duncan and his recent championship as some expect him to be. “If you ask me if I’m okay with Tim doing it, I’m not,” Bryant said in regards to Duncan potentially winning a sixth ring next season.
Since the comments, Bryant has been labeled anything from jealous to unsportsmanlike, all of which is unjustified and petty from those looking to take a swipe at Bryant at any given chance.
Why should he feel any joy for one of the Lakers’ biggest rivals?
Old-school NBA fans long for the days NBA players were rivals on the court rather than friends. The hate-filled series fueled by longstanding resentment and anger. The desperation to get one up on your fiercest rivals, closing the gap between any mismatch. Those days are gone along with that definition of ‘rivals.’
These days a rivalry is created after consecutive close games between any two teams. There are those who think the Oklahoma City Thunder and Golden State Warriors hold a recent rivalry purely because of a few close games and freak shots.
That’s not a rivalry.
Bryant is old school. He’s not about to get cute when a genuine rival wins a ring, let alone a fifth ring to get equal with the man himself. He shouldn’t be expected to. The game is changing for the better, but in the direction the game is going, when the Bryants and Duncans of the world are gone, we are going to be watching games resembling friendlies.
The fans of the game can bring back rivalries. After all, the players play for the fans. If the fans hate a fan base like the Lakers do the Boston Celtics and vise-versa, it will translate onto the court.
Spread the hate, NBA fans. The game will be better for it.