While there is still a lot of talk that LeBron James has forever soiled his reputation, I direct you to the writings of Beckley Mason of HoopSpeak, who wrote way back in July that James can stir up all the venom he wants. If he gets some rings, people are going to come around. They always do, for champions.
Kobe was embarrassed in front of the nation and seen as the catalyst of the destruction of the Los Angeles basketball dynasty. Remember Eagleton? The absurd ring he bought his wife? The years of losing (2004-7 without a 50 win season)?Perhaps because Kobe “Trinity” Bryant was never proven guilty and has done well to publicize the closeness of his family and his devotion to only basketball and family, we have forgiven him.
But I’m guessing that if Kobe hadn’t been able to turn it around on the court, none of his devotion would matter.
As Kobe’s teams floundered in the regular season and playoffs, even his ridiculous 81 point outburst couldn’t quell criticism that he was a spoiled, selfish player who drove the best thing that ever happened to him out of town. If he wants to whine his way out of L.A. (as he was vociferously attempting to do off and on for three years), then let him go.
And it was OK to think these things because we all learned sordid details about what happened in a hotel room in Eagleton, Colorado -- and he was losing.
Then something happened. Kobe’s team somehow signed a top post scorer who was intelligent, made other players better, rebounded pretty well and could even play some defense. The Lakers were winners again, Kobe had “figured it out,” and suddenly there was a flash flood of stories designed to understand Kobe’s greatness in a way we could embrace.
In other words, we can argue all we want about LeBron James' offseason. (And we want, it seems, to argue about it a lot.) But keep in mind that whatever your position, history cares little about the offseason missteps of winners.