Kobe Bryant’s career has been defined by five NBA Championships, two NBA Finals MVP awards, a league MVP award, a gold medal at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, 13 All-Star Game appearances and an average of 25.3 PPG over 15 seasons.
With all of that success, the future Hall of Famer is still learning lessons, and it’s taking derogatory comments caught on camera to teach them.
In an April 13 game against their rival San Antonio Spurs, the Lakers’ shooting guard was issued a technical foul after complaining to referee Bennie Adams. Bryant then proceeded to violently hit his chair on the bench, throw a towel and murmured an antigay slur directed at Adams that was caught by TNT’s cameras.
For this action — which can be clearly lip read on replays that have flooded the Internet — Bryant was fined $100,000 by NBA Commissioner David Stern who later said in a statement that, “While I’m fully aware that basketball is an emotional game, such a distasteful term should never be tolerated.”
With the spotlight that Bryant baits and the role-model figure that his playing ability and leadership naturally expresses, I must admit that this type of behavior is uncalled for by a seasoned veteran such as Bryant.
As a former athlete I can see where Bryant is coming from when he said: “My actions were out of frustration during the heat of the game, period.”
In a close game against a rival team things can get heated and words can be exchanged, but when you’re the face of the franchise and cameras are on your every move, you should be inclined to act respectfully with little negative body language or emotion. As a star of 15 years, you’re accustomed to that stage, so the behavior of a professional should follow suit. And at his age of 32, I’m having a hard time not questioning Bryant’s maturity.
The Laker’s all-time leading scorer is constantly complaining every call against him, even when it’s a good one.
I’m fully aware that Bryant is a tremendous competitor, but perhaps he would be even more impressive if he kept his cool in heated situations, similar to the likes of one of the NBA’s classiest, Ray Allen.
When this happens he will be considered a complete player in my mind, but until then, keep the lessons coming.