First off, I’d like to say hello to all of the participants on the forum - this is my first post. I have been reading threads from this forum for quite awhile and I am happy to finally join the ongoing discussion about my favorite subject - the Los Angeles Lakers!!!
Now on with my Question/Commentary:
Is Kobe Bryant a more of a prima donna than most NBA superstars?
My answer is simple, "No, he is not. But there really is no way to tell!"
“What you talkin’ bout Willis?” Okay, let me explain.
For the record, I’m not trying to argue that Kobe isn’t a prima donna. He is. Just like many other NBA superstars. But is he worse? Our perception of him as being a worse has more to do with the unique circumstances in which he entered the league than anything that he did differently than other superstars. I also blame sports writers and fans that parrot those same writers without critically thinking about what they are reading – but I’ll address that later.
Kobe was drafted into a very unique situation for someone of his ability - he was drafted onto a great team that already had one of the greatest players in the league still in his prime (Shaq). As all of you know, usually players of Kobe's ability are drafted very high and onto very bad teams. This is a significant fact. Usually, the newly drafted rookie-soon-to-be all-star immediately becomes the face of the franchise. And all the existing players, including veterans and even coaches, soon have it made known to them that the team now belongs to the rookie, and if they can't come to grips with that - they are shipped out.
This has been true for nearly all superstars. Not just the LeBrons, Wades and Carmelos of recent drafts, but the Jordans, Dominiques and Isaiahs of the past. This is even true of players like Magic, Bird, and Barkley that were drafted by great teams that had all star players on them. Within one of two seasons, they were the unchallenged face of their respective franchises – each became the big dog, the alpha male, the leader of his team.
Not so for Kobe. He was drafted out of high school. He wasn’t handed the keys to the family car. He was just a highly touted youngster drafted onto the greatest franchise in Basketball (my bias). And it was Shaq’s team. So role players like Rick Fox and Derek Fisher that normally would have had to cow tow to their new superstar teammate, could publicly challenge his shot selection, his selfishness. In essence, they could mimic Shaq’s statements to the press. Because after all, it still Shaq’s team.
Consider this: If players like Fox and Fisher were on a horrible team and the new superstar showed up, they would fully understand their job security depended on getting along with the new franchise player. And they certainly wouldn’t express their grievances with the media and still expect to stay on the team.
So when Kobe emerged as a superstar, these same role players, which would have under normal superstar draft circumstances would have already submitted to his leadership, rebelled. He was still that kid that shot too much. They had retained the emotional freedom to resent Kobe asserting himself. And who could blame them. For those of us a little bit older, imagine some teenager trying to boss you around or expect you to bow down to their leadership after you have been playing along side them for years – just because they are better at putting a ball into a hole. Most men, if not conditioned to do so from the get go, certainly wouldn’t start.
So Kobe played under Shaq’s shadow for many seasons. And there is no doubt that Shaq was the most dominant basketball player on the planet at the time. And the only rational choice for the Lakers was for Shaq to be the first, second and third option. Shaq was THAT good. But now imagine a competitor like Jordan or Bird having to play second fiddle to Shaq or anyone else for that matter. No way! The problem was that Kobe, naturally a Batman, for the sake of the team, reluctantly played the role of Robin. And because Alfred the butler (Fox, Fish) knew him as Robin, they would never truly accept him as Batman.
Does anyone think that Jordan in his prime could have been the 2nd option on any team? Or Bird? Iverson?
Even a great team player like Bird and Magic were given the reigns of their franchises early in their careers. So we really don’t know how they would have behaved had they had to stand in the shadow of another player and was made to run an offense that minimized their effectiveness. Even Duncan, who I honestly don’t think is a prima donna, was given a team as a rookie.
Again, I’m sure some of you can find examples of great players in the past that were great team players - different era, different rules. There weren’t multimillion dollar endorsement contracts in the balance. Or had they anywhere near the level of celebrity that modern athlete’s have. Heck, there wasn’t even decent TV coverage.
And some of you will try to argue that Magic had Kareem when he was drafted and they got along great. First off, I think Magic is a special guy. Arguably one of the greatest ever. But let us be clear - Magic was given the reigns of the team. So much so that Paul Westhead was fired as the Head coach of the Lakers only one year after winning the championship for trying to run a slow-down-dump-it-in-the-post type of offense that better suited the league MVP Kareem. Magic didn’t like it. Felt it the offense didn’t utilize his talents effectively. So Westhead was gone and Riley let Magic run. Now, I’m not complaining - I loved Showtime. But let’s not pretend that Magic would have been cool playing second fiddle in an offense that didn’t suit him. Because he wasn’t cool with it and saw to it he didn’t have to.
Anyway, I’ve written far too much and by now I’m sure you all get point. People never had to kiss up, so they spoke up. And sports writers fueled the fire between Shaq and Kobe and proclaimed him a prima donna. And silly fans were influenced and repeated sports writer's statements masquerading as if they are in the know.
Other superstars had the luxury of having their backsides kissed, so they never had reason to complain.
well keep in mind u said at the time shaq was the best player in the game (besides jordan).
So it was shaq's job...but u also forgot to mention after a few years of winning championships...he got older, fatter, slower...but kobe was getting bigger, faster, quicker, and certainly WAYYY better than shaq...now u have 2 superstars...both were gonna demand 15 + million per year (shaq 33 million per year) so only 2 guys right there by themselves would actually be takin up the whole cap....now instead of taking a shaq that was fat, slow...they decided to take a well groomed completely blossomed Kobe bryant...
Who by the way, was now ready, to be the number 1 option
Come on Bleedinpurple and SoCalMike give the new poster a break.
You are right... my apologies and welcome to the forum for sure.
As a note of etiquette, if I may suggest to all posters, that generally, it is helpful to keep your posts as short and concise as you possibly can so that we can take and have the time to read and enjoy what you have to say.
I do have an interest in reading everyone's thoughts, even when I don't agree with them.