Report Card - Kobe Bryant
At the risk of shortchanging Kobe a fair share of deep analysis his teammates received (I'm confident he'll recover from any hurt feelings), does this really require a detailed explanation? Dude was first-team All-Everything, league MVP, put up the usual great numbers (some may not realize how high his boards ranked among SG's), helped take a team many said would be a chaotic, eggshell-walking, playoff bubble team to Game 6 of the Finals, played half a season with a torn finger ligament, conducted himself during some early-season unhappiness with total professionalism and grew tremendously as a leader. If those October-June resume items don't strike you as "A"-worthy material, I'm honestly stumped what will, so it's really not worth a debate. I asked Kobe during his exit interview if he felt (as I and many writerly types do) this was indeed the best season of his first ballot Hall of Fame career.
"I think so, just because of how we played as a team" he said. "I've had better individual seasons, which was necessary for me to have in order for us to make the playoffs. But I haven't had a season that was more enjoyable or better in terms in leading a group of guys than this season."
No argument on my end.
(Note: Before anybody freaks out, I consider an "A" to be the highest of grades. The high school and college I attended didn't do the "plus" thing for an "A," no matter how special, so that's how I roll. If you want to think of it as an "A+," no worries. If you want to think of it as an "A++," super. If you want to think of it as an "A++++++++++++++," that's a might dramatic, but have it. Just don't think of it as me somehow "slighting" Kobe and don't bother asking me to change the grade, because it's remaining as is. Gracias.)