Someone asked me how my blog and newspaper column came to be titled "Bleachers Brew". It's like this, it's an amalgam of sorts of two things: The bleachers area in the stadium/arena where I used to sit when I would watch baseball, football, and basketball games and Miles Davis' great jazz album Bitches Brew. That's how it got culled together. I originally planned on calling it "The View from the Big Chair" that is a nod to Tears For Fear's second album, Songs from the Big Chair. So there.

Friday, October 31, 2014

For Kobe Bryant, he should learn from NBA history.

This appears on the NBA Philippines website

For Kobe Bryant, he should learn from NBA history.
by rick olivares

Just opening night for the new NBA season and there are fireworks, game-winning buzzer-beaters, affirmations of contenders status and reminders of who are works in progress.

The one that takes the cake is that argument between the Los Angeles Lakers’ Kobe Bryant and the Houston Rockets’ Dwight Howard. With 7:07 left in the match and the Rockets ahead by 25 points, Howard pulled down a defensive rebound while Bryant tried to poke the ball away. The two stood for a few seconds with Kobe poking with Dwight trying to clear space until he nailed the Laker guard with an elbow immediately earning a technical foul. As officials and teammates separated the two, Kobe jawed at Howard and called him “soft” and urged him to “try me.”

While Howard “started” it, it is but the latest in a PDD (Public Display of Dislike) by the two and that had me thinking of an article where Henry Abbott cited anonymous sources about players refusing to play alongside Bryant for his reputation of fighting and putting down teammates. That came barely a day or two after he was ranked at the NBA’s 40th best player by ESPN that prompted Bryant to call the media network as a bunch of “idiots.”

While I may not agree with the ranking, if Howard was said to have an opportunity to take the high road in that scrum with Bryant, Kobe also had the opportunity to do the same. Instead, as Lakers beat reporter Ramona Shelburne Tweeted, “(Recently retired New York Yankees star Derek) Jeter never made a “second story.” Never added logs to the fire. Kobe tries the same but can’t help say something interesting.”

And, “Reading through @kobebryant quotes tonight shows diff between him and Jeter (to whom he’s oft compared – aging legend, iconic franchise).”

As everything unfolded with Kobe backtracking somewhat and saying it was merely “trash talking,” I thought of Michael Jordan and how his career went from being bookended with the shot at North Carolina and the shot at Chicago to being cut at Laney and being cut at Washington which is actually his last act as a NBA player.

In his final season with the Washington Wizards, he alienated every single player that no one gave him a send-off. Michael Leahy chronicled that final year with the Wizards in the unflattering book, “When Nothing Else Matters.” I’d say that goes hand-in-hand with Sam Smith’s “The Jordan Rules” the first book to demystify Jordan.

Kobe, who makes no bones about His Airness as his basketball idol should learn from that. Despite what is a Hall of Fame career and one that will see him named as one of the ten best NBA players of all time, Bryant is headed down Jordan’s road. In fact, he is one of the most polarizing players ever to lace up a pair of sneakers.

The 1998 NBA All-Star game foreshadowed Bryant’s career. In what was then believed to be Jordan’s last in the mid-season classic, Kobe waved off screens and teammates to take on Jordan and took the most shots from the Western Conference squad. Not a few basketball analysts point to this episode as a portent of what was to come – taking a volume of shots and putting himself above the team.

Kobe’s response to criticism has shocking and infuriating. In a game against the Sacramento Kings in 2004, he took one shot in the entire first half after LA coach Phil Jackson pointed out that he shoots too much at the expense of the team. That prompted then teammate Gary Payton to ask before the next game, “Are you going to play or not?”

Incredibly, he did it again. During Game 7 of the First Round match up with the phoenix Suns during the 2006 playoffs, Bryant took only three shots in the second half. It is seen as not only quitting on his team that lost a 3-1 series lead but also his petulance when criticized for taking too many shots.  

Earlier this 2014, he was in the center of a social media storm when he ruffled feathers about the Trayvon Martin case. That also didn’t endear him to LeBron James who could have joined the Lakers but opted to return to Cleveland after his contract with the Miami Heat ended.

For the record, I am a fan of both Jordan and Bryant. But it is tough being a fan of both. I still cringe when I think of or even see video of the Black Cat’s Hall of Fame speech. Hopefully, Bryant doesn’t do the same.

Bryant’s days on the hardcourt are numbered. I’d rather he just let his game do the talking. And if anything, he should be grateful that he is back and unlike teammate Steve Nash, whose body has betrayed him to the point where his acquisition by the Lakers is seen as one of the worst in league history (only because he didn’t play too much due to injury), he has the opportunity to go out on his terms.

Now if he only doesn’t add more logs to the fire.

No comments:

Post a Comment