Kobe Bryant and His Selfish Departure

Kobe Bryant and His Selfish Departure
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Kobe Bryant has announced that this season, his 20th, will be his last and he will retire from the NBA. His farewell tour is now well underway and it has not been pretty. Bryant has been playing the worst basketball of his career this year, with numbers so bad that I refuse to impose them onto you. He’s played atrociously thus far, helping lead the Lakers to a (conference-worst) record of 2-15. That’s right; the Lakers have been worse than the injury-hobbled Pelicans and just a game better than the joke of a team that plays in Philadelphia. Bryant’s struggles, which I have explained in depth, have played a large role in his team’s struggles.

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My initial thoughts were that Bryant was simply bad at this point in this career. However, it’s slowly starting to go much further than that. Kobe Bryant isn’t just bad, he’s selfish. And look, I know this isn’t a new concept, whether in a joking matter or in a serious matter, to many of you. Regardless, it has never been this bad. At the very least, Bryant was putting up great numbers throughout his career. But at this point, there is no excuse. Bryant’s true colors are shining through the ugly and, while it may not hurt his legacy or accolades, it is certainly hurting his image.

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Early on in my basketball life, I was never a fan of Kobe Bryant. I’m not sure if I could say that I hated him, but I certainly envied him. He was always, for the most part, on a winning team and a dominant player. Allen Iverson was my first favorite basketball player and he didn’t have many successful encounters with Bryant. Later on in my basketball life, Bryant would go on to have a few battles with my favorite team, besting them in 2010.

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However, as that rivalry cooled off and Bryant aged, I found this weird appreciation for Bryant. I still envied him but my respect for his game grew with every season that went by. In fact, over the last two seasons, I genuinely missed Bryant. There was a sort of void that I felt while watching a league without Kobe Bryant. However, things change.

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Fast-forward to 2015 and I doubt I will miss Bryant, at least in the immediate future after his retirement. It seems as if every single night that he steps onto a basketball court, he’s out there trying to spit in our face. The way that Bryant is playing is downright disrespectful to my basketball IQ. According to his play, Bryant is either one of two things: dumb or selfish, and he’s not the former. You don’t get this far and accomplish so much without great intelligence. That leaves the latter and my goodness is it disgusting at this point.

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Let’s be clear, however: I doubt we care about his selfishness if he was any good, but he’s not. Back to reality: at what point do we start calling Bryant out for his crap? Not only is his team coming off a loss to the Sixers, a kind gift from Kobe Bryant to his hometown of Philadelphia, but Bryant shot 4-for-17 from three. I really don’t know where to even begin here. I wouldn’t want Stephen Curry taking 17 threes in a game and he’s the greatest shooter of all time! Yet this man has the audacity, while shooting just 20% from downtown on the season, to take 17 threes in 32 minutes of action.

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It’s not even as if he was hot; if he was hot and hitting from everywhere, he would get a pass. But the fact of the matter is that he’s shooting 30% from the floor, 20% from three, and over the last five games he’s now 8-for-41 from three. Furthermore, despite his dreadful three-point shooting this season, he is still averaging 7.6 three-point attempts per game! Einstein’s definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results; Bryant is out of his damn mind.

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The saddest part about this debacle is that, as I wrote, this is entirely on Bryant. He doesn’t stink because of certain factors outside of his control. It’s not like injuries are holding him back or there's something he can’t change. You can count age as an obstacle, but he still has some talent left. He doesn’t suck because he can’t be good; he sucks because he’s being selfish. He let his selfishness make the 76ers’ defenders look like professional basketball players after the first few minutes of the game. It really is his fault; nobody is forcing him to take the shots he’s taking. His awful shot selection is what’s holding him back.

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It’s frustrating watching Bryant hit a tough shot because you know that’s giving him a boost in confidence to continue taking bad shots that he thinks he can hit. But even more frustrating is watching him embrace difficulty. It’s almost as if he’s encouraging a challenge to prove us wrong or something. Far too often does Bryant gain some sort of an advantage on a defender – like dribbling past a defender closing out on the perimeter – and then allowing the defender to recover before rising up for the shot. One of the reasons he struggles as a catch-and-shoot shooter is because he often waits and looks around at the defense after receiving a pass, before rising up for the now-contested shot.

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This is sort of selfishness is making me sick at this point. I guess it was alright while he was the Black Mamba, but the Black Mamba is dead. With every game that goes by, the desire for Bryant to hang it up right now grows larger and larger. I can’t say I’d go as far as to personally wish that he retires immediately, but he is hurting our eyes and his reputation with this selfishness. 17 threes? At this age, he shouldn’t be taking 17 shots in a game, yet he’s only taken less than that in half of the games he’s played. He took (a season-high) 26 shots in the loss to the Sixers. I’m not necessarily saying he’s always been selfish, but he surely is at the moment.

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By the way, do you keep hearing that? What’s Bean up to? Is that . . . are those bricks?

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