When talking about a game, the conversation always turns to who won and whether or not it was fair. In sports there are often many different opinions on what is considered a win. Sometimes one team has more players than another but the end result still might be that a loss for both teams occurs.
Kobe Bryant was often referred to be a “selfish” player during his career, particularly during his first three seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers. Shaquille O’Neal can attest to it.
There were moments when he had to be (think of the Smush Paker-Chris Mihm Lakers) and others when he just wanted to be. Whatever the case may be, it all stems from Kobe’s belief that he was the greatest player on the court.
Bryant’s debut season was a disappointment. He honestly felt he could go one-on-one with anybody in the NBA, but due to a lack of playing time, he never had the opportunity. He took the shot, raced with it, dunked with it, snatched it when he finally got it. With it, he did all he could.
Unless you want to pass it.
In one weekend, he alienated players, coaches, and even a Hall of Fame announcer in his attempt to prove to the league that he was a star.
Kobe Bryant’s debut season with the Los Angeles Lakers was unremarkable.
The Mamba was always remarkable in his eyes. He’d eventually show it. His first NBA season, on the other hand, was everything but.
Kobe only played in six games, averaging 15.5 minutes per game. It’s hard to believe today, but he only fired six times a night.
In 71 games, he averaged 7.6 points and shot 41.7 percent from the field.
Del Harris, Bryant’s head coach in Los Angeles at the time, did all he could to keep Bryant patient. He was 18 years old and entering a league of mature guys.
That year, the Lakers were also quite excellent. They had recently signed free agent Shaquille O’Neal, and Shaq, together with veterans Nick Van Exel and Eddie Jones, led the club to a 56-26 record and a playoff series win.
Not that any of it mattered to Kobe; he was always focused about winning. But the future Hall of Famer was ready to put his talents on display in front of a national audience.
And when he finally had his opportunity, he blew it out of the park.
During his first NBA All-Star Weekend, the youngster was blatantly selfish.
During the first half of the 2016 All-Star Game, Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers and the Western Conference All-Star Team grin. | Getty Images/Elsa
Bryant qualified for the dunk contest and the Rookie Challenge with the Western Conference squad.
According to Jeff Pearlman’s book Three Ring Circus, the youngster went into the weekend “dead-set on showing off.”
First, during the dunk contest, Kobe put on a spectacular show of athleticism. Of course, a guy known as “Showboat” added in a dash of style for good measure.
After chucking down his last dunk, a between-the-legs one-handed windmill, he strolled up to the 1996 All-Stars and flexed while making a kissy-face at them.
That was after Bryant competed in the Rookie Challenge alongside future Hall of Famers Allen Iverson, Ray Allen, and Steve Nash. Bryant, on the other hand, never passed to anybody. Since the beginning of time.
In 26 minutes, he made 17 shots and scored a game-high 31 points. However, Pearlman claims that the manner he played was “everything Harris despised” about Kobe’s style.
Even Hubie Brown, who is known for his cheerful demeanor, couldn’t stand what he was seeing as he called the game for TNT:
Kobe Bryant is displaying a lot of enthusiasm, but I believe he should attempt to play with the other four players on the court.
You won’t be able to succeed at this level if you can’t pass the ball.
During the 1996 Rookie Challenge, Hubie Brown took against Kobe Bryant.
The 18-time All-Star gained other reputations over time — winning five NBA championships helps people forget — but he could never totally escape this one.
Kobe’s self-assurance enabled him to achieve great things.
It is possessed by all of the best players. Regardless of the sport. Michael Jordan, Kobe’s hero, possessed it — the unwavering confidence that you’re the greatest player on the court at all times (field, rink, diamond, etc.).
Kobe Bean was named to 15 All-NBA teams, two Finals MVPs, 12 All-Defensive Teams, and two scoring crowns as a result of his confidence.
It rubbed some folks the wrong way at times. It even rubbed announcers the wrong way at times over his tenure.
Kobe would never have been Kobe if he didn’t have that utter self-assurance. That’s what made him The Black Mamba, even if it wasn’t always enjoyable.
Basketball Reference provided all statistics.
When Kobe Bryant arrived at training camp to a befuddled Jerry West, his Hall of Fame career got off to a very embarrassing start: ‘Wait. ‘Wait a minute, wait a minute, wait a minute, wait a minute, wait