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Simers and Simmons, on Kobe's likability

Kobe at the parade Over the last 72 hours and change since the Lakers won their title, two articles have examined the Lakers' championship run, with Kobe Bryant's likability a central point.   The Times' T.J. Simers is put off by Bryant's (and Phil Jackson's) "unlikable" personalities, plus the "idolatry" heaped upon a team largely identified with said unlikable principles.  ESPN's Bill Simmons, green Celtic blood pumping through his veins, concurs and thus questions the media's postseason narrative praising Bryant's willingness to share and teammate relationships (plus the how he stacks up against "you know who").  Predictably, both pieces provoked a reaction among many a Laker fan (none too favorable, which prompted a follow up from Simers), so I thought it was worth sharing my thoughts on both.

On a certain, very specific level, I get Simers' viewpoint.  It's hard to refute any opinion that Phil Jackson can be smug and arrogant.  (Granted, he's always cordial to me and I get along fine with him, but that doesn't change the truth.)  Or that Kobe is less outwardly friendly than the majority of his teammates.  (Granted, he's always cordial to me and I get along fine with him, but that doesn't change the truth.)  Both can be fairly insulated, high maintenance and guilty of taking oneself too seriously.  That arguably has zilch to do with the on-court product, much less the ultimate goal of winning a title, but it's difficult to root for a team without rooting for its players.  

Should those personality traits be enough to sully a title run?  That's up for each person to individually decide. 

Personally, even if I despised Kobe and Phil, between my appreciation for the achievement, the Laker Lakers celebrate supporting cast's collectively good personalities (even Simers doesn't seem to dispute this), and my natural Laker leanings, I'd likely still be excited by the O'Brien.  Lord knows I found the Kobe-Shaq quarrels tedious, but every time the trophy was raised, I raised my fist along with it.  However, if Simers' cup of tea is Earl Grey and he can't get past Kobe and Phil's "Oolong" flavor, fair enough.  Who am I to deem somebody's aesthetic reaction "wrong?" 

I do, however, take exception with Simers on a couple of points, most notably taking fans to task over a lack of "priorities."  

From the original piece...

     You want to have a parade and scream your lungs out for a job well done, then invite the young men and women returning from Iraq and Afghanistan to walk down Figueroa Street and be feted like heroes in the Coliseum.

And the follow up...

     There were a pair of officers who had pulled a woman to safety from an armed man, another who had saved the life of a child found not breathing, still another wounded calling for help from two more officers, who then exposed themselves to potential harm.  No parade. Most of the late-arriving crowd to Dodger Stadium having no idea what took place in pregame introductions.  Just think if Sasha or Luke had elected to attend the game, though, their faces appearing on the scoreboard -- everyone in the place really going crazy.   Tonight it will be L.A. firemen lining up along the first base line, everyone probably too pooped from the Lakers' parade to arrive in time to notice.

      99% of the times I've heard a politician play the "the ______ are the real heroes" card, typically to express "priorities in place," the sentiment felt transparently convenient and phony.  Well, doesn't feel much different when the messenger is a journalist.  Most people (even your average moronic sports fan) are well aware that, in the grand scheme of things, soldiers risking their lives for this country and facing stakes more crucial than anything decided between the lines, are owed a larger debt of gratitude than professional athletes.  This is just incredibly obvious, and without a specific context that deems a reminder appropriate (for example, when BK and I joined The Steve Mason Show to entertain veterans at the VA hospital), going there will likely come off more "self important" than "selfless." 

Simers is correct that far more noble professions receive far too little recognition and/or pay.  But does he honestly believe a willingness to wildly celebrate athletic achievement and grounded perspectives are mutuallyPolice taking pics exclusive?  Is it really impossible to care about the Lakers' success and what awaits a soldier upon returning home?  Maybe it's just me, but that feels like a major reach, and to essentially lecture people for failure to attend a parade that was never thrown is (on its best day) wildly assumptive and (on its worst day) a very cheap attempt at "justifying" indifference toward the Lakers.  If you want to be a curmudgeon, no worries.  To use these soldiers, policemen, firemen- many for whom sports serve as an escape from their dangerous, underpaid, under-appreciated jobs- as pawns for a column is simply bad taste.

I also question simultaneously chiding folks for a devotion to sports while earning decades' worth of checks by fostering that devotion.  If not flat out hypocritical, it's certainly "hypocritical adjacent."  Yes, sports are quite trivial when viewed against a backdrop of life or death matters.  I would never begrudge him (or any writer) if he decided sports wasn't worth his time and desired to write more "relevant" stories.  Particularly a writer with Simers' gifts and a big enough profile for career reinvention.  But you can't have it both ways.  As the saying goes, if you're not part of the solution...

Like Simers, Simmons' distaste for The Mamba is as well kept a secret as Lindsay Lohan's dating life.  Again, he's allowed an opinion, and I don't need to rehash why I couldn't care less.  I was more interested in two points The Sports Guy raised about how the media presents Bryant.  One rather perceptive, another where I think he tripped over a larger reality to make his case.

After listing the highlights of Kobe's stellar 2007-2009 (last season's MVP award and Finals appearance, an Olympic gold won in some part through Bryant's influencing younger teammates, back-to-back 82 game seasons, his fourth title, etc.), Simmons places that two year stretch among some hefty "two year" company:  Bill Russell (1961-63), Jerry West (1964-66), Wilt Chamberlain (1966-68), Bill Russell (1967-69), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (1970-72), Larry Bird (1985-87), Magic Johnson (1986-88), Michael Jordan (1990-92), Hakeem Olajuwon (1993-95), Michael Jordan (1996-98) and Tim Duncan (2001-03).

From there, Simmons makes a request...

        I would rather see Kobe linked with everyone above and not just Jordan, if only because the MJ Kobe with jersey comparisons are tiresome. We're never seeing another Jordan, just like we're never seeing another Brando or Lennon. It's just not happening. They might compare statistically and stylistically, but Jordan could command a room of 10 people or 20,000 and get the exact same reaction: Every set of eyes trained on him for as long as he was there. His personality, his charisma, his aura, his passion ... indescribable. Like nothing I have ever seen. Nobody remembers this now because he hasn't played in awhile, but Jordan was always the coolest guy in the room. Without fail. He was like Doctor J. crossed with Sinatra. Remember those dopey ads when somebody said, "My broker is E.F. Hutton," and everyone else in the room froze? That was what happened to an arena when Jordan walked in. You would freeze, and you would hear screams, and then it would be a sea of lightbulbs. And everyone was saying the same thing, "I get to say I watched Michael Jordan."

That sound you just heard was the nail's head being hit.  And beyond charisma discrepancies and the comparisons being more played out than ER's billion year run, the Kobe-Jordan thing is ridiculous because 23 has an innate advantage over 24.  Jordan benefited from the perfect storm of a league slowly on the rise and advertising innovation, both of which pimped MJ as "the face."  That drastically affects perception, to the point where it felt like at times like Jordan was reinventing the wheel.  Even when you're incredibly gifted, timing is still everything.  Being seen as the "prototype" gave Jordan a major ace up his sleeve.

That advantage transformed Jordan into basketball's version of the Beatles, pop music's permanent gold standard.  They arrived at the perfect time, were wildly innovative, defined an era, and broke up before crap would have inevitably been churned out.  Game over, man.  You can't beat that.  No band will ever be widely considered more important than John, Paul, George and RIngo, precisely because if such heights are reached, Fab Four comparisons are unavoidable.   Ditto Kobe and Michael. 

Stevie Ray To make another musical comparison, Kobe has often reminded me of Stevie Ray Vaughn to Jordan's Jimi Hendrix.  In my estimation (and it seemed like at least some critics agreed), SRV came the closest to challenging Jimi's universal "#1 guitar god" status.  Too many years wasted while wasted and an early death ultimately shut down Vaugn's dethroning efforts, but ultimately, I think Stevie would have come up short, regardless of what his Stratocaster produced.  Why?  Because Jimi is the gold standard who emerged at the perfect time, and that's nearly impossible to trump.  And Kobe could do a hell of a lot worse than Stevie Ray, even if the circumstances aren't truly "fair."  It is what it is.  I just wish more people would recognize Jordan's undeniable trump card while explaining "the reasons" why Kobe will "never be MJ."  Until Bryant wins somewhere between six and sixty rings, he's battling one seriously stacked deck. 

I also agree with Simmons that, as the playoffs progressed, the "Kobe learned to trust his teammates and changed" talk was shoved down our throats ad nauseum.  Our reasons for displeasure, however, were completely different.  Simmons didn't buy what was being sold, and went to great lengths to disprove coverage he found increasingly contrived.  I didn't agree with much of the evidence cited, but that's neither here nor there.  I mostly objected to getting treated like Phil Connors in "Groundhog Day," a factor I'm surprised Simmons missed.

Contrary to what Simmons remembers, "selfish Kobe doesn't get it" wasn't the storyline during 2008's playoffs.  It was actually, "Kobe finally learned to trust his teammates."  Remember?  The season where he discovered these Lakers were much better than expected (even before Pau Gasol's arrival), began truly believing in his supporting cast, and was rewarded for that faith with an MVP trophy and a trip to the Finals.  If he believed in those guys, why is it so noteworthy that an improved crew still had that trust?  It felt like the entire 2008 season was shoved inside a vault and completely forgotten about (save the Lakers being pegged as a "finesse team," of course). 

Or, as I suspect, everyone was caught with their pants down after suddenly and unexpectedly being robbed of "Kobe vs. LeBron."  There's always a push to focus on stars (although, as Simmons rightly notes, there are plenty of interesting role player stories to go around).  The Average Joe doesn't know Hedo Turkoglu or Rashard LewisGasol is pretty low key.  "Lamar Odom loves candy" was milked Kobe and the trophy bone dry.  Dwight Howard played below expectations.  Thus, you're left with Kobe, matched up against nobody in particular.  Nothing new to "examine," but time must be killed, so cue up the reruns.  I wonder if Simmons fell victim to this syndrome as well.  I'm a big fan of Simmons, but his piece felt mostly like a rehash of issues raised in his previous two posts about the Lakers and Kobe.  Like he had nothing new to add, but felt obligated to speak on the topic, which results in forced points.  Ditto much of what was said about Kobe- and his teammates, for that matter- during the playoffs.  

Old narratives can be difficult to shake.  Pau Gasol is "soft," even though he came up huge in physical matches against Boston, Cleveland, and three previous playoff rounds.  Lamar Odom is "inconsistent," even though he was among the steadiest of Lakers, save a few games spent immediately following his back injury.   The Lakers "lacking a killer instinct," even though they had eight double digit wins before heading into the Finals.  And Kobe was apparently "discovering the joys of teammate belief."   That just how the media rolls at times. 

Just a little food for thought with a parade wrapped up and Kobe about to address the media for his exit interview.

AK

 
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This is the editorial letter I wrote for Bill Simmons.

http://tinyurl.com/md7uoa

EFF Simers. I don't read his work!

you know, i bet you guys could get even more hits with some pictures of topless ladies and a few editorials about cat juggling.

come on.

AK,

I thought your article today was great, especially the analogies of the Beatles and Hendrix. Taking a longer view, however, there will come a time when the majority of fans will never have seen MJ play live and will instead laud Kobe or LeBron or the next new superstar as the greatest because that is all they know. When MJ looks as old as Chuck and Magic, then the tide will change. The difference between sports stars and rock stars is that fans will still pay to see “old” rock stars perform but not “old” sports stars, unless they’re dancing.

As a long-time Yankee fan, I have had to root for many players the last few years that I really did not like. The phase “he is an a-hole but he’s our a-hole” was the usual comment. Frankly, I find it harder to root for today’s Yankees than I did the Torre teams of the 90’s.

>>> Both can be fairly insulated, high maintenance and guilty of taking
>>> oneself too seriously. That arguably has zilch to do with the on-court
>>> product, much less the ultimate goal of winning a title, but it's difficult
>>> to root for a team without rooting for its players.

I personally like Kobe and Phil because they are winners and do want to be the very best. I know that turns some people off but we are talking about professional athletes and I admire a little swagger and attitude as long as it is directed toward winning. In their own way, Kobe and Phil are definitely over the top, a trait that I obviously admire greatly. LOL. If you want to be the best, then you are going to have that edge that turns some people off. So I think much of what makes Kobe and Phil so successful is part of why you and many people do not like them but also why I and so many fans love them.

Tom

LakersRT @NBA: Fall asleep early last night? No biggie, here's Kobe's appearance on @NBCConan. Pt 1: http://tr.im/KBCn1. Pt 2: http://tr.im/KBCn2

Outstanding points. Well done!

Great post.

I agree with you on MJ and his legacy. I just wished critics were more honest about Kobe's basketball skills. In my mind there is no doubt that Kobe is the most skilled basketball player ever, and not by a close margin. Better than MJ, Magic, etc. Sure, there is more to a player, such as carisma, phisical abilities, etc. Also, as much as I am a big fan, I don't love the guy. Who does? He is NOT very likable. That, however, is not a sufficent reason to deny that he has set the standard for basketball skills for many decades to come.

Do people still read what TJ Whimers say? He doesn't even like basketball, not just the Lakers. I'm still wondering why the Times sent him covering the playoffs. The LA Times coud save some money by not sending him covering the games.

I don't really care about medias's impressions about Kobe. They can hate all they went but they cannot take away the rings the Lakers and Kobe have.

I remember in my last posts I asked why Kobe did not shake the hand of Bill Russel, now I am glad he did not. There's too much hate between the 2 teams and Bostons' mouthpieces, e.g. Simmons, bordering on personal attacks is classless. Luke Walton was right, his ring was from the best team while his father was from the ugly Celtics.

Laker nation showed the whole world yesterday that there's nothing better than being a Laker fan. I hope we can do another 3-peat and see what else can they say. I am so proud of this team, they won with class and finesse. Cal it soft whatever, bottom line we are the CHAMPIONS and all of them can only watch and wish they are on the same stage cheeered by the great crowd not just at the Coliseum but all the Lakers fans throughout the world.

The whole premise of this thread should be published in the newspaper. Then it could be used to wrap garbage or dead fish and tossed away.

Who cares what Simers writes anymore? Who cares what Bill Simmons thinks?

Further, the LA Times as an institution shows far too little appreciation for the Lakers. While Carl Erskin wrote a very fair piece on the celebration, the news coverage focused far too heavily on the few knuckleheads who disgraced themselves (and the rest of us by association) by their actions on Sunday night. Monday and Tuesday, the news coverage dwelt on whether there should be a celebration at all.

I wasn't going to post on this, but now I'm going to do so. The Times missed a golden opportunity on Wednesday to celebrate with those of us who provide free User Generated Content (USG) that keeps this fading institution alive with at least a pulse. Just as the team had a pre-celebration breakfast, the Times could have feted AK & BK for the great job they do and invited the loyal USG providers to unite pre-event, and then get Times-sponsored VIP treatment at the Coliseum. That way, more than the few of us who were able to hook up could have finally met in person as a more complete group. It sucks that other bloggers who went, such as Edwin, couldn't have joined us.

Before I forget, Jon K, your name came up quite a few times yesterday. We felt bad you were still in Cleveland and couldn't party with us. The Same to Xodus and Tim-4-Show, who at least were able to check in via Facebook.

AK and BK, don't be led astray by all the nattering nabobs of negativism like Simers and Simmons. They're not worthy of your time or ours. Don't buy into the corroded institutional culture of the Times, even though it provides your paycheck. This Blog is about a higher purpose. Thanks, Lakers, for an amazing season. I look forward to the next one and many to come.

fatsam - that was an excellent break down of Simmons' article! Nice work!

Andrew, I 100% agree with you on Simmons,Simers simmering, and Kobe, Phil of themselves.
Both Simmons and Simers articles felt a little contrived, and because I have been reading both for a few years now, was expected at least from this corner.
Unlike Simers I do believe, though, that sports is important, and a championship parade and some idolatry is essential to the socialization of us human beings sharing time and space on planet earth.
And frankly dear sir, when it comes to the matter of Bill disliking Kobe and Phil, do I look like someone (Lakers' fan-atic) who gives a damn?
Maybe it's because it was Leo the Lip (Damm Yankee!) who famously opined that nice guys finish last why Bill is always red (socked) in the face over Kobe's low likeability quotient.
Please accept my felicitations to you and your sibling, (and Mom), the keepers of the blog, on a terrific job, (dare I say championship calibre?) and my unending gratitude for your efforts on behalf of Laker nation.

It's too bad that good Lakers reads like this one isn't positioned to challenge the BS from BS:

http://www.forumblueandgold.com/2009/06/16/deconstructing-kobe/

Read the simmons article response on forum blue and gold.

Although you touched upon some more trivial aspects of the simmons' article, forum blue and gold delves into more a detailed look into this tragicically written column. It's a great read.

This is a MUST READ from Forum Blue & Gold.

http://www.forumblueandgold.com/

I've rarely read a piece so well thought out. I don't read Simmons so it was nice to read excerpts of his arguments and your responses. I wish I could be as level headed as you when it comes to the Sports Guy but he represents the worst of the ESPN/New England/ cartel (lol) who masquerade as objective reporters.

I would love to see a similiar column by Simmons on that bad actor Kevin Garnett. I think he's the most unlikable drama queen in the NBA but I dont think I'll hold my breath on that one. I still get the dry heaves when I recall that "interview" between Bill Russell and KG during last year's playoffs. Just the kind of soft focus, fawning tribute BS accuses the media of doing for Kobe during this year's finals.

First off big time congrats to the Lakers! And second big time congrats to the Kam Brothers for this amazing blog. I come often, stay late, but don't usually comment. Here's my first in a looong while.

Yeah, Simers piece was disturbing. Half way through I had to double check that this guy was actually a sports columnist. If you don't like your job that much, write something else. So AK I completely agree with your assessment there. What bugs me about that too is that had LA lost he would have been among the first to nail them for the failure. Really petty and small minded of him.

Simmons piece was even more disturbing to me. It did make me think though. He criticizes Kobe and co with inauthenticity and phoniness, arguing that they have a contrived relationship. He cites the Kobe / Phil hug at the end of Game 5 as a particular example of this.

But how can it not look contrived when there are twenty cameras circling around you? How can anything be "natural" under those circumstances? I'm sure they are used to the cameras to an extent, but I believe his premise is off. This is akin to expecting to see reality in Reality TV...

As you also point out, if you don't like someone, no matter what they do you might find their actions to be phony or contrived. That guy you hate at the office could buy you lunch every day and give you a card on your birthday without fail, but you'll still say he's a fake. Same thing applies here.

We like to imagine that guys on our favorite team like each other, but this is really hard to judge. Remember Kobe and Shaq at this years all-star game? The smiling, joking and playing was there, but Shaq's constant tweets make you think otherwise. How much of player interaction in front of cameras is for the cameras? How much is genuine? What does real joy look like?

Simmons obviously believes he can tell the difference. That's where I believe he is wrong.

Again. Big shout out to the Champs! The 2009 LA Lakers from a Bahamian fan living in Canada! Go LAL!

Since I am not a part of the media, I don't have to interact with Kobe and Phil. I just have to watch them play and coach.

I think Phil's approach to coaching is spot on, and I have nothing but respect for him. I don't get arrogance from Phil. I think he is a little closed down to the media, and that is interpreted as arrogance. Look, when you live in world where it is considered "weird" to give people books, for chissakes, it can be tough to be real open. Phil is introverted by nature anway. And as a coach he is inward focused on the team, not on the sideshow of media and fans. He is not Rick Majerus. The media is a part of his job, but not the part he enjoys, so he does his part, I think with pretty good humor, and moves on. But his players grow as players, as a team and possibly in some cases as people. I'll take that anyday. Oh, and the 10 rings.

Kobe is arrogant. No question. And his attitude has come out in his play. He has at times been a selfish player. But Kobe has evolved over the years, naturally and with help from Phil, to understand the nature of a team.

I deal with players as players. They are not my buddies, I watch them on TV. Kobe as a player is phenomenally skilled, intensely hard working, ans has evolved his game to be a leader and a teammate. I love watching that. The rest don't matter.

The Simers stuff is stupid. He doesn't get enough love from Kobe and Phil. Basketball is not as important as teaching and Iraq. We all know that. Its just for fun. If Simers is upset about people enjoying this team, then really he should be imbedded in Iran reporting on the troubles there instead of writing about something as insignificant as sports.

But I am having fun and don't care if TJ thinks that's OK.

I agree that Kobe should not be compared to Jordan. It always strikes me that Kobe is actually the small man's Wilt Chamberlain, capable of individual feats that Jordan did not accomplish.

Like Wilt, he took all kinds of criticism until he was given a horse he could ride. Put a strong team around Wilt and the result was two of the greatest teams ever, the 67 Sixers and the 72 Lakers. The minute the Lakers got Gasol, they became a championship-level team that might have already won two in a row if Ariza and/or Bynum had been healthy in 2008.

Not having Simers in the Lakers commemorative section puts the cherry on top of this season. Did he take the time he spent not writing visiting VA hospitals or something to help his suddenly beloved troops and firemen? Suuurrrre, he did.

I don't care in the slightest what T.J. Simers and Bill Simmons write. They're not journalists. They're trolls. They care more about presenting themselves as worthy of attention than presenting their subject matter in an objective manner.

Regarding Kobe and Phil, they're competitors. Their job is to win fairly. That's it. I could care less if they're cuddly little teddybears with winning marketing smiles. All I care is that they strive for the best, present themselves in a professional manner, and play/coach for rings. That's it.

And that's what they do.

What do we play for? RINGS!!!!

Lakers Today... Lakers Tomorrow... Lakers Forever.

GO LAKERS!!!!

That was a very fair take on Simers and Simmons, probably fairer than they really deserve. Simers I just don't understand: if you don't care about sports or your local teams, why are you a sports columnist for the local paper?

Simmons just rankles because of his hypocrisy. It's fine to be a Celtic fan, and hate the Lakers, dislike Kobe, etc. I admit that as a Lakers fan, I find the current Celtics an "arrangement," KG's intensity contrived, Paul Pierce arrogant, Rondo dirty... I can't pretend this is objective. I've been a Lakers fan my whole life.

I think the real thing people have trouble with when it comes to Kobe is that he doesn't appear to express joy when on the court. He's so serious, and doesn't seem to have fun. I really think that if he looked looser, smiled sometimes, didn't seem so predatorily bent on killing opponents, the media coverage of him would be different.

But that's how he is: he can't turn it off and on. It's fine to find it unappealing. But to then write that his teammates really just tolerate him, and he isn't any better than last year, when your own statistical evidence flies in the face of it, is just totally irresponsible.

In other words, AK, you were too kind.

Charles & Pig,

You are correct. Since we have Kobe’s bird rights, we can sign him for 6 years maximum, which used to be 7 years which is why Kobe’s current contract was that long. Any other team signing Kobe as a free agent would only be able to offer 5 years.

Since Kobe earned $21,262,500 this year, the maximum salary that Kobe could sign for would $22,325,625 (5% more than he earned this year) with 10.5% increases every year, giving us the following salaries if he opted and re-signed for the maximum:

2010 – $22,325,625 ($23,034,375 under current contract)
2011 – $24,669,815 ($24,806,250 under current contract)
2012 – $27,260,145
2013 – $30,122,460
2014 – $33,285,318
2015 – $36,780,276

Total –$174,443,639
Avg – $29,073,939

Thus, if Kobe were to sign a 6-year deal for starting at $20M per year with max increases each year, he would be leaving a potential $18M on the table for the Lakers to use to keep the team together, or around $3M per year or $6M considering luxury tax.

2010 – $20,000,000 ($23,034,375 under current contract)
2011 – $22,100,000 ($24,806,250 under current contract)
2012 – $24,420,500
2013 – $26,984,652
2014 – $29,818,040
2015 – $32,948,934

Total –$156,272,126
Avg – $26,045,354.33

Bottom line, the Lakers CANNOT afford to pay Kobe the max. And 6-years is about right in length because Kobe would likely still be in his prime at 36 considering his conditioning.

Tom

Great article about tj simers and and that guy from espn. To bad tj did't go to the parade he would have saw how many readers he is missing and what it means when Love is returned Maverick

Has it ever occurred to TJ, Kobe and PJ (and million of readers) were not cordial to him because he was a JERK? Simply because when you are cordial to a Jerk, he would just become a bigger JERK. I stopped reading the JERK stupidity in writing years ago. As for Simmons I am sure he is not too happy about PJ surpassed Auerbach 9 championships. Red's championships took place when the league had 10 teams, shorter seasons, much less competition, and therefore it is like compare apples to oranges. As a fan I think even Phil's first 6 championships were greater and harder to aqchieve than Red's 9.

This 'greatest ever' crap was created by Nike and Gatorade.

I hate it.

Hate it.

It is considerably more lame than two pasty-faced, overweight geeks arguing over whether or not Batman could beat up Daredevil from different comic book universes.

Stupid. Pointless. Childish.

I, personally, don't remember this garbage becoming the focus of sports discussion before the Nike and Gatorade fueled media storm surrounding Michael Jordan.

All this talk of Michael Jordan being the "GREATEST EVER" is a load of horse manure. Was he the most successful player of his generation? I think you could make a very strong argument that he was.

Did he ever score 100 points?

No.

Did he ever win 8 rings?

No.

I mean, come on.

Why do we have to be like a dog and over and over return to eat our vomit?

This is a pointless argument which distracts us from the present.

Comparing Kobe and Michael Jordan is an artificial, unnecessary argument fueled by marketing urges rather than a deep and abiding love for sports.

Kobe Bryant just won his fourth ring and he's got a lot of career to go. Let's talk about the present and the future instead of miring ourselves in these implacable arguments.

What do we play for? RINGS!!!!

Lakers Today... Lakers Tomorrow... Lakers Forever.

GO LAKERS!!!!

jordan was amazing everyone loved him or did they. i think people are forgetting jordan had critics as well. also, talking about kobe's likability is funny. kobe may have his critics here in the us, but overseas he is huge. i remember during the olympics lebron said he thought he and carmelo were huge but they are nothing compared to kobe. all over the world kobe is loved. even more so than mj. you know why b/c he has appreciation of other sports and cultures. overseas they love hard workers; they don't care if you're funny and goofy as long as you get the job done. i know a lot of fans in europe always say if kobe isn't like in the us, he should come to europe and get paid.

kobe in china was speaking italian and spanish. the media loved him overseas. he also tried to speak some mandarin. kobe knew about national teams of other countries and gave his opinions. athletes all over the world were in awe of team usa b/c of kobe. kobe got messi's jersey (famous soccer player who kobe loves) became honary member of polo teams and volleyball teams. i know in the middle east even though they are huge soccer fans they love kobe. so who cares if kobe is not loved here, i am telling you overseas he is adored.

actually jeanette, kobe and bill did shake hands i saw it on video on nba. i didn't see it on tv

How is Kobe "arrogant"?

He's a professional competitor with four championships who is driven to be the best. He's also had his name dragged through the mud and been the most hated figure in sports since the Colorado incident.

You take on that responsibility and absorb all that negativity for seven years and tell me how you'd respond.

Personally, I'd be a much meaner, less friendlier person than Kobe is. I think it's time for us to remember that the guy is human too.

What do we play for? RINGS!!!!

Lakers Today... Lakers Tomorrow... Lakers Forever.

GO LAKERS!!!

Forum blue and gold's Kobe post was one of the best researched and written articles about Kobe that I've ever read. Anyone who hasn't read it already should do so.

As far as Simmons goes, I never take him seriously. Who cares what he says? I think most people outside our little Laker fandom family understand that he's a Celtic homer and a Laker hater. Personally, I just ignore him and suggest that every else do the same.

Simer's message is correct. We over-value sports in America.

But his timing and intent are the problem. Timing: right after Lakers win the Finals. Intent: to downplay the Laker's success.

If the Lakers lost to Orlando, would Simers be bemoaning the Magic's celebration, and society's ill-placed priorities? No, he would be writing about how Phil and Kobe failed once again, and the various ways they managed to screw up. It's just a way to change the subject.

"I don't think TJ's mom hugged him enough when he was a kid."

- Fatty

"Simmons is evererything the K's try not to be. A classic 'Homer' who's heart clouds his thinking."

- Fatty

Thanks AK.

Well written, objective, respectful, intelligent, self-aware and totally on point.

I would just say don't read Simers and Simmons, but it's the fact that their respective publications validate them and give them high visibility for the sole purpose of hits that annoy me. But what what really angers me is when they insult the intelligence of the readers.

In the interest of fairness, I hope you and your brother make as much money as those fools.

AK,

I think em-k is right. You were too kind, but that much said, you also presented a degree of professionalism that Simers nor Simmons are able to sustain.

Leading by example, I suppose.

What do we play for? RINGS!!!

Lakers Today... Lakers Tomorrow... Lakers Forever.

GO LAKERS!!!!

That article on Forum Blue & Gold is phenomenal.

Now THAT is real journalism.

Just the facts, ma'am.

Wonderful stuff.

It won't change anything because haters are deluded by hate and given significance only by their own self-loathing. That much said, it is nice to read a clear, well-written article based on the facts, not hatred and emotional drivel.

What do we play for? RINGS!!!!

Lakers Today... Lakers Tomorrow... Lakers Forever.

GO LAKERS!!!!

here's the problem with the media's views on kobe: it's his personality type. not everyone has the same one. kobe is clearly not mr. extrovert, like magic johnson or shaq. the type of leader he has become is a different type of leader than those guys, and probably most nba superstars. he's always been a determined loner type (as simmons says, kobe lacks the posse other stars have). this is not a bad thing. it's kobe's thing.

Fatty,

It's pretty clear that T.J. Simers for some reason thinks that life has cheated him. So he spits that bitterness back at life. He for some reason feels that inspiring negative emotions in others is a "right" of his in protest for the life that was denied him.

It's a sickness.

I have no idea why the L.A. Times rewards this behavior. It's very negative social example.

What do we play for? RINGS!!!

Lakers Today... Lakers Tomorrow... Lakers Forever.

GO LAKERS!!!!

Simmers is an idiot. Telling people they have their priorities wrong, telling people we should be celebrating other things, telling us essentially we should do something more worthwhile with our time.

The guy is a freakin' SPORTSWRITER for god's sake. Surely, there are more norble endeavors.

simers pathetically tries to ruffle feathers. in the end, he looks like a clueless fool with glue and feathers stuck all over his hands and face.

simmons cannot face facts. he is simply a celtics die hard fan that will never like kobe or anything purple/gold. he tries to make his analysis based on numbers and reading faces/body language. he'd get more respect if he just wrote: "i love boston. i hate the lakers and kobe because i love the celtics." just be real about it.

he points out (ad nauseum) the lakers stealing gasol, which we did. however he glosses over the fact that the celtics got ray allen for free and kevin mchale donated kg to the celtics for one decent player (jefferson) and a handful of scrubs. all in one summer.

and will somebody tell kg that "anything is possible!" when you get two all-star players for pennies on the dollar?

Hmmm....... It's hard to find a newspaper job, the guy that has one, gives the finger to the people who pay his bills and bemoans the fact that they are not appreciative. He most really be an incredible columnist.

Laila

I did see any of that on TV, in any case if he did not I don't feel bad because I understand the anymosity between the two teams just like what Edwin explain before, it is like oil and water.

KG guaranteeing rings for 2010, 2011? Only in his dreams. Why he did not do the same in 2008? I just don't like this player, classless lunatic. He made the entire Celtics team like him. I used to like Ray Allen but not anymore. Bring it on KG, see you in 2010 Finals, make sure you get there healthy, barking, talking smack and down on all fours before Lakers give you their sweet revenge and I want it on your own court no less.

Tom Daniels,

"Look, when you live in world where it is considered "weird" to give people books, for chissakes, it can be tough to be real open."

Great point. I'm a big Phil Jackson fan. He's the greatest coach of all time. I think you're right on about him.

There was a Truehoop post a few weeks back criticizing Lamar Odom for critiquing the press reacting to 'Candygate'. He essentially said(in a video on his website) that the reason athletes don't open up to the press so often because stuff like his candy eating gets blown out of proportion, overanalyzed to death. and linked to his character. Abbott at Truehoop then went on to say that these athletes get paid millions more with the increased exposure of press the last decade or so and they should put up with it. It is true that the salaries have increased along with rise in publicity, which fostered more fan interest, but does that give the press a right to say whatever they want about these athletes without any rebuttal? Can obviously bitter and sour agenda-driven writers like Simers and Simmons say their piece, criticizing the character of these athletes while not receiving criticism themselves? I like articles like these that AK wrote, calling out pieces that are more about the personal issues of the writers themselves than actual sports journalism. You know those referees that make the game about them than the players? Simers and Simmons are the same way.

Sports journalists should be able to be criticized the same as they criticize the athletes(who, on the flipside, are responsible for their salaries, too). All of Simers' work is akin to shock jock radio, trying to shock to get ratings. Simmons' article reminds me of high schooler jealous of a cooler kid and justifying their hate with whatever comes to mind(The Lakers' celebrating was staged?!? Are these guys Academy Award-winning actors? Some of them can't speak to the press without squirming like a kid in the principal's office!) I like that we have the internet, and bloggers could have a voice against supposedly bigger, more powerful folks who will soon be as extinct as print. The internet gives us countless other options besides ESPN and newspapers. We can now vote with our clicks, and in few years no one will know what is mainstream anymore because everyone will only go to sites and writers that they like.

Anyone here who disagrees with Simers and Simmons, do not give them hits, and the more people do this they can get criticism where they would feel it most, in the pocketbooks.

Har, har de dar! Now that's bad luck!

Jerome Crowe of the LA Times writes:
"When Robert Horry made his season-saving shot against the Sacramento Kings in 2002, when Derek Fisher hit his "0.4" buzzer-beater against the San Antonio Spurs in 2004 and when Fisher drove a dagger into the heart of the Orlando Magic last week, Hedo Turkoglu was playing for the opposition. . . ."

Is there a lesson here guys and gals?

In the first place, give credit where credit is due. The Lakers had just won the NBA championship. Why not write something halfway decent about this nice achievement and the recognition that it brings to the greater Los Angeles area? Morale has been immense for Southern Californians who have been looking for something uplifting in these difficult economic times.

So why the need to raise the issue surrounding firefighters, soldiers, law enforcement, and the like for the very admirable work that they do as well?... As if a basketball team’s widely recognized success strips the good deed of these other fine men and women (what a fallacy!).

If you feel the need to recognize (and rightly so!) the dangerous work performed by men and women who do not play professional sports, then by all means do so. As some of us already do, raise the issue with our local, state, and federal governments. Demand that they acknowledge and reward them for their services. By all means, give them their own parade.

Yet here we bear witness to T.J. Simers drawing up a phony correlation between the Lakers’ triumph and the lack of credit given to others in our workforce. Sad, really… this pattern that I’ve gotten used to each time I thumb through these columns.

In the eyes of a handful of columnists, if Kobe conquers by attacking the basket, he’s selfish. If he’s passing the ball, why didn’t he attack? Each time the Lakers win, they lose. If they lose, they can’t win. This is L.A.’s time to shine. We need to savor this victory. Great players in your backyard don’t last forever. Neither do uplifting moments.

Simers hates Phil because every time TJ asks a stupid or leading question, Phil just shoots him down. TJ gets his manhood , what little he has, taken away with every inane thing he says.

Simmons is just a d-bag. Why didn't he say anything about under-appreciated veterans last year when the celtics were having a parade?

Cuz he's a d-bag.

LA Lakers, 2009 NBA Champoins

I see a distinction between the two pieces. BS is a smart guy who often is worth reading, if one can get past the fact he is an avowed Lakers hater. TJS wrote an article in the LA Times, on the day of the Lakers parade, essentially declaring basketball fans to be morons who somehow are ignorant that basketball is just a game when the world is full of more important things. If a non-sportwriter wants to make that argument, well fair enough (banal as it is), but from a sports columnist its simply infuriating (and insincere). Can't the Times find a sporswriter who likes Sports? Maybe they can move TJS to the business section, where he can tell readers that they have no business monitoring their investments when soldiers are dying in the middle east.

Who is TJ Simers and Bill Simmons?

They sound like real trolls.

The one thing that I find funny, if not interesting, in regards to Simmons' articles, is that he's the only columnist, be it on the front page or page two, that doesn't allow "comments" at the bottom of his pieces.

It's like ESPN knows he's going to get nothing but hate or Bill knows people will dispute him with facts, or it's a combination of both. I'd really like to know if that's by his choice or ESPN's

Rick Friedman,

Well, it was nice people were thinking of me.

I wish I could be there too. Hopefully, God willing, I will be able to celebrate with everyone next year.

I miss Los Angeles (and Southern California as a whole) quite badly.

What do we play for? RINGS!!!

Lakers Today... Lakers Tomorrow... Lakers Forever.

GO LAKERS!!!!

Wow, that was a great article.

Just one part I thought was foolish and should be edited out "I'm a big fan of Simmons", might want to change that to "was" or just cut it out completely. Everything I have read of his you have referenced is poorly put together and he just babbles on with whatever pops into his head with no organized thoughts with no apparent thesis other than he hates the Lakers and especially Kobe. Jack Kerouac he is not.

I thought this article was the perfect response, a well written and well thought out article using facts to point out hyperbole. There really is no comparison; excellent work. And here I thought all sportswriters were hacks.

Not to mention that those who really pay the highest price for society are the ones that will never be in a parade: those who have lost their lives in the service of their country or the public. Its the sweet moments in life like this championship that make what their sacrifice means all the more significant. These moments in life should be savored all the more in appreciation of the high price paid to make them possible.

AK, regarding Simers & Simmons:

1. You are right on about Simers, and you made a point that I put directly to TJ in an email (that he didn't bother to respond to) which is that his holier than thou attitude about this city's (or country's) obsession with sports rather than "real" issues like war and peace would be easier to swallow had he not personally exploited said love into a long career writing about (by his definition) the trivial world of sports. I think many bloggers here would agree, we'd all rather see Simers pass his remaining days as a war correspondent, but somehow I don't think he's quite up for THAT challenge....

2. Simmons is different nut. He simply has no credibility and isn't really worth the time it takes to read his columns. What he (and many) miss about Kobe is that MJ had an advantage in being a first of a kind. Nobody had ever seen a player like MJ when he came along. Speed, agility, ball handling, defense, shooting and playing above the rim were all specific skills, possessed a few at a time by other stars and never before seen in a single individual.

Kobe, by contrast, has a tougher audience. If you've played a great video game before, you aren't as easily impressed by another great game. To be impressive, the next game has to rock your world. Kobe is that second edition video game. Most of us HAVE seen it before (in MJ) so it is hard for Kobe to impress. However, that alone makes his play so impressive. That he can wow us in a way that no other player today can (sorry, LBJ) is amazing given the standard that MJ set. Moreover, Kobe's body of work is not close to being finished. Matching Jordan's six titles is very much within reach, albeit with two completely different teams (not the same team that simply dominated for an 8 year stretch). The individual awards are there, the Olympic gold is there, and the number of teammates who have gotten rich contracts (to which they haven't lived up to...) is probably A LOT longer than MJ's list.

So, in sum, Simmons is a joke and not worthy of anyone's time. Simers is angry guy with absolutely no credibility at all. I don't know how you guys manage to work with colleagues like that....

"EFF Simers. I don't read his work!"-lakersrydeordie

Bill Simmons-ditto

Plus the Boston paper's Dan Shaughnessy wasn't impressed with the Laker championship either.

What a surprise. Those three turds smell the same.

Congratulations Lakers!!!

I come to this blog to read great posts and the funny/insightful comments from fellow readers. Today I stop by and your post is about what that moron Simers thinks? I just about threw up. Thanks a lot for ruining my day AK. T_T

I had a speical feeling about Kobe when he first became a Laker in 1996 -- I have followed him in a Lakers uni ever since -- being a Laker fan long before he came aboard.

And I'll be damned if somebody tries to tell me different, that he is NOT the best ball player in the world TODAY -- and that he will end up having more success in his basketball career cuz unlinke some HATERS fail to realize, he has earned it..He works especially hard at his craft, doesn't cheat the game, is a professional student of the game and realizes he can STILL get better -- he is not a complacent athlete and sees room in his game for improvement while other top named athletes are chasing skirts and parties and portfolios (all well and good) Kobe is mastering his craft and trying to take it to the next level.

He is a maestro at what he does and doesn't feel he has even played his BEST BALL or played to the pinnacle of his skillset -- the sky is the limit for this dude because he doesn't allow himself to think otherwise.

How the EFF can a TRUE basketball fan hate on that??

I say play on playa -- Kobe, you da man!

As for whether mofos are gonna like him or not, it is what it is, either people like you or pretend to like you and not really like you -- they don't write his checks so to hell with all of them!!

the thing about the media not liking Kobe or Phil is that the media has never played real sports so they don't know what it take to win. Kobe & Phil are my winners for life and I

NEW THREAD

Celtics would have kicked your butt again this year if KG was not injured. You almost lost to Houston without Yao Ming or T-Mac.

I was just thinking about this and why we as the Laker fans get beat up... and, a counter to that would be to have a guy who is from LA. We don't have such a person at ESPN, right? Wait!!! We do... Isn't Adande from LA? What the heck? If there is something wrong with the Lakers, Adande is the first to jump on the Lakers.... yet, he doesn't show nearly the venom of SImmons...
Perhaps, our guy should do his job in ripping the Celtics... Simmons has no problem doing it... Adande fills the checklist of an LA guy, but doesn't stand up for represent the Lakers or the Lakers fan...
What a joke!!!

I rarely read TJ Simers because I do think he writes for himself but when I saw his follow-up article in yesterday's times, I thought to myself ... does this man take himself this seriously? I applaud his regard for men and women in uniform and those who work tirelessly every day in nobler professions. But it was pretty clear to me in reading his articule, he used these references as a convenient excuse to denigrate those who enjoy our Lakers basketball team. Kind of sad really. Where was all this concern for these everyday heroes he now finds so worthy of an article? Truth is, Simers is one of those self-absorbed punks who really could care less about those folks. Thankfully, most of these noble individuals probably have the common sense to see through that journalist.

Kevin,

A team wins championships by facing ADVERSITY! That's why LA is the undisputed NBA champion for 2008-2009.

The "defending" champion Celtics of 2008-2009 did not step up when KG went down collectively. It looked like to me that Paul Pierce was not "ready" to go to the next level by digging much "deeper" when it happened. As a MVP of the Celtics, Pierce did not handle "adversity" that well.

If you want to make a "KG less" excuse for this past year, I'm sure you would want to include in your "desperate" argument the Lakers minus Bynum and a unhealthy Ariza as well.

You see Kev, no matter what, it is what it IS! The Lakers made no excuses last year. They were handled by the Celtics fair and square, especially Game 6. Why should the Celtics come up with one now?

Thanks to your Celtics, the Lakers became a better team this past year with more focus and determination to get through the toughest of times.

In the end, it didn't matter who they played to claim the Larry O'Brien Trophy.

The NBA game is too great to come up with the "could've, should've" and "almost" as you pointed out with Houston....To the victor goes the spoils. The Lakers "took" it to every team along the journey fair and square!

For the Lakers of 2008-2009, they turned KG's "Anything's possible!" into their own. The irony of it all...

Overall, the Celtics did not react to well to ADVERSITY this past year. That was the biggest problem.

Remember, they still had two potential hall-of-famers on the roster to get the job done. Leadership shouldn't have been a problem on the floor. They just didn't respond when it came to defending their title and turf. Orlando made sure of that via 101-82 victory on the Celtics home floor. A Game 7 nonetheless. The Magic was the better team in the end.

Don't worry, you have the whole summer to think about a mirage of other excuses.

Peace be with you.

Laker pride through ALL and ANY ADVERSITY!

Result? 2008-2009 NBA Champions!

kevin,
I think what you mean is "if Kevin McHale hadn't been fired, the Celtics would have been contenders again next year!"

AK - Fatsam, excellent commentary/response..
Simmons sometimes writes about the mileage on Kobe, he no doubt hopes so.

I would speculate that Kobe now having 4 championships is problematic for BS, as he has now passed his basketball idol (Bird). He probably despises the fact that the great Bird Celtic teams of the 80's came away with "only" 3 titles while the greater Laker teams had 5.

I sometimes read BS columns, but I understand any Lakers/Kobe positive commentary comes with more than offsetting qualifying commentary, the inevitable but......

Enjoy the pain both of these guys (BS, Simers) are obviiously feeling.

I agree that Kobe should not be compared to Jordan. It always strikes me that Kobe is actually the small man's Wilt Chamberlain, capable of individual feats that Jordan did not accomplish.

Posted by: Jman449 | June 18, 2009 at 10:43 AM

------------------------------

By individual feats, do you mean the 81 points against the Raptors, the 62 in three quarters, the 61 points in MSG, the 4 straight 50 point games, the 9 straight 40 point games and a few others that I've failed to mention? I'm also inferring that you consider Kobe to be greater than Jordan and that these individual feats are partly the reason for that. If so, I have to ask, why? (If not, just ignore the rest of my post). These feats are obviously outrageous. But I don't understand why these single-game scoring outbursts can actually be used at all to support the idea that Kobe is greater than Jordan. I can easily rattle off so many of Jordan's statistics that are far more impressive, statistics that span the range of a playoff series, to entire playoffs, and from a single regular season, to multiple seasons. Kobe, for example, doesn't even have one playoff series that approximates any one of Jordan's first three finals appearances (pay close attention to his FG%, and in particular the ones for his latter two finals, which are astronomical for a guard especially when taking into account the fact that Jordan shot around 4 three pointers per game during that time)

http://michaeljordansworld.com/stats_finals.htm

I can go on and on and on.

I'm not discounting the notion that Kobe is greater than Jordan. These statistics are without context of course. But so are the statistics that the majority of Kobe's supporters in this debate use. That's why in my opinion, they shouldn't be used at all, at least until someone can give proper context to these things.

EVERYONE REPEAT AFTER ME: TJ SIMERS IS A WHACK-JOB!!! AGAIN! TJ SIMERS IS A WHACK-JOB!!!

He has what psychologists call a personality disorder.

I wonder if that punk-azz Simers would ever verbalize his innane ascerbic comments in person, publically, in front of real people, versus hiding behind a column?

He would get b-slapped until he crys for his mommy.

I can't believe the Times actually pays that freak to write his drivel... Joe the homeless and delusional man that lives down the street could write more credibly than Simers!

hubbit

Simmons and Simers are not journalists. They are merely opinion writers. Journalist deal in facts. Opinion writers deal in, well....opinion and speculation. As Jon K put it, they are trolls.

As for Kobe's arrogance...it's not arrogance if you can back it up.

I think it's pretty clear that Simers is depressed.

That's all his column seems to convey from week to week. He's like an OCD depressed sports journalist. "blah blah happened this week. waah waah waah. i hate him and i hate it. waaah waaah. then blah blah happened. man, am i above that! waaah waah waah." That's about it for him.

I find it hard to belive that TJ Simers has a job. He epitomizes all that he dislikes, in Kobe and Phil. Simers is arrogant and cocky and his work is garbage. He is a man who has no credible accomplishments and looks to knock down those whon do.. Why? Kobe is an absolute beast when it comes to Basketball and his comparisons to Mike are absolutely warranted. Simmers GET OVER IT! live your life and get a real job.

A very, very good article. Thank you.

TJ Simers and Bill Simmons are the main reasons WHY I don't subscribe to the LA TIMES paper. I WILL not pay any part of their salaries. As long as their on their payroll they are going to loose money and readership from Laker fans and I have to believe thats a good portion of Southern California readership. that they are loosing. TJ and Bill are fools but the Times management are even bigger fools for employing them in this market, let them work at the Boston Globe.


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