That was quite a treat Kobe Bryant gave us this past week, eh? Defending his pride and our faith, Kobe had the basketball world at attention as he efficiently hung 40-points or more in four straight games, proving not only that he still has that magic, but that he also has absolutely no plans on giving up his stake as being considered the best basketball player in the world.
Of course, all matters Kobe come with intense scrutiny. Is he taking too many shots? Is he not getting the ball to his big guys enough? Is he going overboard with "hero" ball? Blah, blah, blah. I know he can be a bit frustrating at times, and lord knows at some point, we've all expressed some sort of dissatisfaction with him. Let's face it, Kobe's awesome self-belief does come with some sense of selfishness that can be awfully frustrating to watch if he's not on his game. Therein lies the rub.
If he's not on his game. "If" makes all the difference in the world, because deep down we don't worry so much about how Kobe plays so long as he's still good enough to carry the team on his back. Whether or not he should try to is another story, but the very fact that he still can in his sixteenth season, through all the injuries, and under a growing number of doubting eyes is nothing short of amazing. He's performing at the highest level when many thought he couldn't.
At this point, I'm starting to feel like I'm all in with Kobe. I know he's going to piss me off some games. I know he'll ignore an obvious advantage in the post some nights. I know he might start to settle for contested 20-footers more than he should. Watching him do this at this point in his career reminds me to value every opportunity I get to see him do this while he still can. There will definitely come a time when he can't, so I'll enjoy this while it lasts. Kobe has been far too good for far too long for me to join the line of doubters believing that he isn't good enough to win a championship on his terms.
Maybe his refusal to succumb to mortality makes him imperfect. Maybe it makes him a bit selfish. When it comes to wins and losses, there is no such thing as perfect. Especially when you compare his so-called unselfish rivals. LeBron James? Scribes plead for the "chosen one" to develop a killer instinct like Kobe. We've watched him go ring-less for 8 years now because he hasn't attempted to step up to the pressure of the moment. Tim Duncan? He took a step back, earned a #1 seed last season, then got bounced in the 1st round. That didn't work out so much, huh?
I'm tired of second-guessing a player who continually proves to be the most professional player I've ever had the pleasure of spending my money on. He's given me too much joy in my basketball loving life. Until Kobe shows me that he's repeatedly "unsuccessful," he's earned the benefit of my doubt from here on out. That doesn't mean I won't be critical, but I'm not going to live and die by every missed or made shot, or every win or loss. He may or may not be the "best" player in the world anymore, but it's still a debate when it shouldn't be after 16 long seasons. That should tell you everything you need to know about Black Mamba. I'm buying into the Kobe System. For now...haha.
Here are his stats for the week:
39.6 points, 5.4 rebounds, 4.6 assists, 3.4 turnovers per game in 41 minutes per game while shooting 72-of-131 from the floor for 54.9% FG.