Epic Carnival | Where Sports and Pop Culture Collide: KOBE BRYANT IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN HE IS VALUABLE


by HP, Hardwood Paroxysm

In my opinion, LeBron James has been the most valuable player in the NBA this season. He's been more valuable than Kobe Bryant this season. (I hate that I'm forced into qualifying that statement with "In my opinion" but at this point, that's pretty much the difference between the two.)

James scores more points, grabs more rebounds, dishes more assists, and blocks more shots. He is able to score in a variety of ways that resembles transcendence more and more each day. He keeps his wretched micturation of a team in the playoffs, and manages to do all of this while defenses are completely centered on him.

But I say all this in order to preface this.

Kobe Bryant is the most important player in the NBA.

First, take a second and recognize the depth of this statement coming from someone that equates Kobe Bryant the basketball player with influenza, wasps, the second Bush album, and Artificial Intelligence. The world would simply be better without them. However, not even my own undeniable disgust towards Mr. Bean is enough to overcome the truth of the matter.

I've rattled it around my brain what the new look Lakers would look like without Bryant. With Gasol, Fisher, Farmar, Vujacic, Bynum (when healthy) and Odom, that sounds like a pretty damn good team. But it's only in the context of surrounding Kobe. He's so far beyond the concept of the most important player on his team that he embodies the team at this point. Everything good that the Lakers accomplish can be attributed to Bryant once again rising his game to another level, even if it's not in the boxscore but in the clutch or in the huddle. And every time the Lakers fail, it's when Kobe's weaknesses rise to the surface. He'll shoot 30 to 4o shots and press too much. The Lakers live and die by how Kobe Bryant breathes in and out.

No other player carries as much weight as Bryant does. Even more so than LeBron, all eyes are on Kobe when he's in a room or on the court. He's transcendent in the concept of being famous. He's come to embody something that is wholly his own. He's not beloved. He's not despised. He's simultaneously both. He bears such a huge weight in the balance of the NBA. Bryant can single handedly end someone's season, can shift playoff standings, can affect contract negotiations. He has more impact on the league than anyone.

Kobe's not only the most valuable team on the Lakers, not only is he the most important player in the league, he's the most important player to the league. Kobe is must-watch-basketball on a nightly basis especially because he's so divisive. No one is ambivalent towards Kobe. He's either a hero or a demon. He's never the source of apathy. Everyone cares. And that's all the front office cares about. You can despise Kobe with all the passion of a Baptist revival, and it 's fine because that just means you're watching. And as long as you're watching, he's making them money. LeBron may be the most valuable, but he doesn't inspire, doesn't intrigue, doesn't force us to obsess over him the same way. He's an icon in the purest sense. He's not an icon of good, nor of evil. He doesn't represent the best things about the game, nor the worst. He isn't a pillar of grace nor a despicable waste of human space. He's so painfully human he manages to encompass something we all identify with, even as we tend to revolt against the worse parts of the character he chooses to show.

I think what I've learned most about Bryant this season is how human he is. MJ, and now LeBron, have sculpted in this new media age an implacable public force. Every interview, every commercial, every poster dunk is carefully designed to sculpt the global icon their PR crews have designed. Non-controversial. Clean-cut. Friendly. And I think Kobe and his crew would love it if they could market him in this way. But they can't. His arrogance and his insecurity bleeds through the television and into our minds. It's entirely possible that Kobe is a humble, yet politely confident guy in real life. But that's not how he comes off. He comes off as a smug punk that is constantly seeking approval from the very subsect of humanity that vilifies him and doubts him as a rightful heir to the throne of best player on Earth. And that both intrigues and irritates us. And that's what makes him so important. He's this bizarre new age embodiment of the populace. Smug and neurotic, obsessed and dedicated.

Kobe Bryant is the most important player in the NBA.

23 comment(s):

Anonymous said...

Horrible observation because all your doing is contradicting yourself. Kobe is the MVP and has been for the last 3yrs. Kobe has been the best NBA player for last 8yrs. Its not even close because he can do everything on the court offensively and defensively. If the rape case never happened Kobe would still have the good ole reserved boy image. You quickly forget how Kobe was percieved before the fall of Shaq, Malone, Payton, and the rape case. Give the man the respect he deserves because we are not going to see another Kobe Bryant talent in the NBA that combines Skill & Mental side for complete domination.

Mike C said...

The NBA would be a niche sport without Kobe right now. No one else currently in the league generates nearly the interest/curiosity/awe/love/hate that he draws from the public.

ar33f3r said...

very nicely put...

Anonymous said...

I think you hit the nail on the head, anyone who disagrees is either Kobe, or doing "special favors" for Kobe. As for Kobe being the best player for the last 8 years, he wasn't even the best player on his team until 5 years ago (ya know, when Shaq left), let alone best in the league...

Anonymous said...


All Things Basketball - All Year Long said...

Total media bias. KB24 is a humble and funny guy in real life - didn't use to be when he was a teenager, but now, humbled by life, he is.

Guy blushed when someone mentioned his name next to Elgin Baylor.

Valuable? KB24 is way more valuable than Lebron. Lebron handles the ball a lot more and gets his stats- Kobe runs a team offense and runs it almost to perfection when Gasol is on the floor.

Anonymous said...



Smug Punk?


These adjectives seem to best describe the writer of this article more than Kobe.

Phillips said...

Have to agree with All Things Basketball, I've met Kobe several times and over the last few years he has become an incredibly humble, nice, funny, engaging guy. Fatherhood and public embarrassment have truly changed him. He was arrogant and "aloof" when he was younger, but no longer. He seems to recognize that he's a role model these days and is determined to do things the right way.

Any true Laker fans didn't blame him for the trade demand (most of us would have done the same thing), after all, KG did the same thing in Minnesota and didn't get half the scrutiny Kobe did.

As for his play on the court, I think Kobe and LeBron are both amazing, but the fact that Kobe has completely changed his game to accommodate the growth of the other guys on his team makes him the most valuable. No one in the league is playing close to his level right now. AND on top of it all he's playing through an injury to his shooting hand that pretty much all medical experts have said should be completely debilitating.

I love LeBron and all but the fact that Kobe has never been the MVP is a joke. This is his year.

UKChris said...

Two words: Chris Paul.

Anonymous said...

Two words: dumb bitch.

Anonymous said...

At least the author does not try to mask his/her bias against Kobe. It's clear that many people (including the author) who see Kobe one way will only see him that way. Kobe's positive or negative attributes either get ignored or serve as reinforcement for one's current perception.

steven v said...

LBJ is a very good player that is on his way to become a great player.
But this is not his year to win the MVP award.
His individual stats have done nothing but taken his team to 4th see on a 40&31 record in a much weaker and less talented conference.
The CAVS would be 10th in the WEST with that record and we would not be having the conversation.

His Stats are what they are because he handle the ball more often. He is the primary ball handler on the CAVS.

Kobe is not the primary ball handler on his team.
The Lakers run a different offense when compared to the CAVS.

Of course Kobe is going to get less assists and less points.

Also Kobe is scoring less because his teammates have finally got their fingers out of their butts and learned how to shot the ball.

Kobe gets less rebounds then Lebron you say????

Let's see; Lamar Odom, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum, Ronny Turiaf.

compared to Ilgauskas, Joe Smith,
Varajao(was hurt), Ben Wallace(recent trade).

who do you think is the better rebounding team.

Stats alone do not make an MVP.
If so then Kobe should have won last year and the year before that.

Anonymous said...

Until the NBA would stop JUDGING Kobe Bryant, he will never win an MVP. Sad...

Anonymous said...

The author of this article is an complete idiot. Just becuase you dislike Kobe doesnt mean you can undermine his skills. Kobe has been the league MVP for the last 3 years and he deserves the MVP. Lakers the the best in the West and you should do some research before posting these absurd articles. Did I mention that the author of this article was a complete idiot.

Adam said...

I love the way people call writers "idiots" (and worse) and the name of "anonymous." Wow, way to bring it, tough guys. I think this post is very interesting. Someone that hates Kobe (and sorry to say it, but there are plenty of people who don't like this dude), but is still seeing the value-add. Just because strong language and biases bleed through in the writing doesn't make the author any more or less of an idiot. The idiots are the people who glance at a post, see something potentially negative about their hero, and then fly off the handle. I'm becoming more and more convinced that comment sections are the worst thing to ever happen to media. I know they are meant to be a public square of sorts, but what is actually accomplished in these fox holes? It's just people pumping up their own thoughts and disparaging the things they don't like (and do you really need to go out of your way to post about how bad something is - what is the point?). Some of the people commenting above reduce my faith in humanity, just a little.

Anonymous said...

Kobe is the most valuable player, most important, and most whatever else you can think of, he will get first team all offense, first team all defense this year, he was an allstar, his team is at the top of the awesome western conference, and on top of all of that his stats are amazing. It is a lot harder to average what kobe does on a good team, then to average what lebron does on a bad team. Kobe was asked "What do you think of Lebron Jame's stats?" and he replied, "Put me in the east and see what happens." Kobe is not just more valuable to his team, he is better then lebron, and until lebron learns to shoot the ball, and become a ferocious on ball defender he wont pass him up on skill. When Kobe gets old enough to walk with a kane, thats when lebron will be better at basketball, but untill that day "we are all witnesses".

Anonymous said...

LBJ says, he can't imagine winning MVP until Kobe gets his... nuff said :)

Anonymous said...

Kobe is the MVP of this league, whil Lebron is the most talented player in the league. Kobe is polished and knows what to do to elevate his game due to his incredible mental ability for the game. Lebron is still only using his physical attributes to dominate games(hence him being more talented and gifted). Kobe hits a game winning jumper with confidence while Lebron bulldozes into the lane for a game-winning layup or pass. They are truly on two different levels. One is skillfully superior while the other is physically the best in the NBA(Aside from Dwight Howard). Kobe has the MVP rapped up.

Maestro_RoShi said...

MJ put better numbers in 89 (32.5/8/8) than LBJ is now and didnt win MVP. Kobe put monster numbers two years ago (81 pts and varius +50) and didn't win MVP. Statistics means nothing. KB24 is the MVP this year and the only one who competes is CP3. LBJ just doesnt win enought. He wouldnt even make the playoff if in the west.

Anonymous said...

Adam u r a dumb ass along wit this stupid writer kobe is the mvp and has been tha last 3 years lebron on tha other needs to learn how to play so defense nd shoot from behind the ark o yeah nd look @ tha fact that he shoots 70% from the freethrow line can u say power foward its amazing how haters hate on kobe y don't yall jus get off his nuts nd let him be the best player until he leaves

Anonymous said...

Interesting post; I like the way you described his importance to the league through the lens of popular opinion and how massive the divide is between the two camps there are WRT Kobe: hatred and love. If he impacts people that much and he's that well-known then he's absolutely the most important player in the league, he's the league's icon, though that torch will soon be passed.

Good stuff.

Eddie Maisonet, III said...

Chris Paul, without a doubt is more valuable. I think Cleveland would be a #7 seed in the East. Hell, LA would be a #3 seed in the East. New Orleans would be in the lottery.

Enough said, but good stuff still. I'll be a consistent reader.

Check me out at edthesportsfan.blogspot.com


Carbine23 said...

KB24 for MVP no doubt,stop hating,and start appreciating.


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