NBA assistant coach latest person to come out and anonymously savage Kobe Bryant
LeBron James’ triumphant return to Ohio and imminent regular season debut with the Cleveland Cavaliers may be the predominant talker heading into the 2014-15 NBA season, the King’s Cleveland comeback has been overshadowed this week by the controversial piece by Henry Abbott in ESPN The Magazine where several anonymous sources took their turns taking potshots at Kobe Bryant.
The prevailing theme of Abbott’s write-up is that the general consensus in NBA circles is that free agents don’t want to sign with the Los Angeles Lakers because no one wants to play with Kobe and that he is responsible for the downfall of the once-proud organization.
It appears that there remains some folks in the NBA that haven’t been given the chance to rip Bryant, as an assistant coach for an Eastern Conference team has gladly seized the opportunity to anonymously rip the veteran superstar.
And what this unidentified individual said about Kobe was particularly vicious. He argues that Bryant is more or less washed up, comparing him to a Washington Wizards-era Michael Jordan.
The quotes come from a “Biggest Storylines of the Season” story from ESPN NBA analyst Chris Broussard.
The story is behind ESPN’s Insider pay wall, but Business Insider has the relevant quotes of savagery.
“I’m in total agreement with those who say Kobe’s done. Look, you could put any high-level 2-guard on a bad team, let him jack up shots and get 20 points a night. So Kobe will be able to do that. But they ain’t going to win. We don’t judge Kobe off scoring 20 points a game. We judge him off dominance, off: ‘Will they win 50 games, will they make the playoffs?’ But now, we’re not even talking about any of that. I’m not saying he can’t play anymore. That’s not what we’re talking about.
“It’s like Michael Jordan in Washington. I, for one, didn’t want to see Michael’s last tour with Washington. Nobody did. When the Lakers play Philly and other low-level teams, Kobe will do whatever he wants. But when he plays good teams and gets doubled? That’s when we’ll see that he’s not the same player.”
There you have it. It’s awfully easy to cast aspersions from relative anonymity, but it’s not like anyone with a brain would ever attach their name to such an inflammatory quote. As Lakers boss Jeanie Buss insinuated during her passionate defense of her star player, “Hell hath no fury like a Black Mamba scorned.”
As noted by B.I., Jordan, at 39, averaged 21 points per game in his two seasons with the Wizards. Sure, MJ’s game dipped quite a bit from his days winning titles in Chicago, but an aging, less skilled and slower Jordan nevertheless was still better than a majority of players sharing an NBA court with His Airness at the time. The same probably can be said about Kobe Bryant. Although that remains to be seen.
Until then, perhaps it’s best to let Kobe’s play speak for itself in the coming weeks and months and stop seeking out people who appear to relish the chance to take cheap shots at one of the best players in NBA history as he navigates the golden years of his playing days. He may be 36 and coming off a series of injuries that indicate his body is finally breaking down — 18 grueling seasons with deep playoff runs that ended in NBA titles can have that effect — but it would be arguably foolish to count him out before he has a chance to prove the doubters wrong.