Too Short For A Column

Near as I can tell, there are five reasons most of America finds it impossible to be happy for Kobe Bryant (and why they're wrong):

1) They think he threw Shaq off the Lakers -- and people like Shaq better. (Actually, Bryant doesn't own the Lakers. It was Jerry Buss who was fed up with Shaq, tired of him reporting to training camp out of shape and infuriated when he scheduled toe surgery just weeks before camp started. The team was staler than last Christmas' fruitcake. Somebody had to go. And, yes, Shaq is more fun. He acts 10 years younger than his age and Bryant 10 years older. But John Stockton makes Bryant look like a stand-up comedian and nobody hates on him.)

2) They think he has the refs in his pocket. (Actually, Bryant led all players in technical fouls in 2007-2008. He was ninth this season, tied with Shaq and a few others.)

3) They think he's a lousy teammate who hogs the ball. (Actually, Bryant set personal bests for assists in these playoffs. And watch the tapes of the Lakers celebration. You can't fake bonds like that.)

4) They think he's a threat to their god, Michael Jordan, as Greatest Player Ever. (Actually, Bryant and Jordan are friends. They talk and text a lot. Jordan has helped Bryant with his game and his public life. If Jordan doesn't resent him, why should you?)

5) They think he's a sourpuss who never smiles. (Actually, they're right. But now, with his fourth and by far most important championship, maybe he can lighten up. This title should take years off his face and tons off his shoulders. Maybe now he can start showing the world his sense of humor, his good heart and his upper row of teeth instead of just the bottoms.)