Kobe Bryant Comes Full Circle As a Leader

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-US PRESSWIRE

We exist in an era where living in the moment means having a kneejerk reaction to whatever the trending topic is on Twitter. Nobody stops to take a step back in order to examine the entire building. Why do that when you can pick apart the floral arrangement in the lobby?

Such has been the case for Kobe Bryant during the span of his NBA career. Once Bryant became an NBA superstar the only thing anyone wanted to do was find the imperfections in his makeup. That’s pretty typical of our society. What else is typical is to make the negative headlines outshine any positive ones.

When the Kobe and Shaq feud was in full swing there was no shortage of negative press filling cyberspace and print media. You almost forgot those two enemies were friendly enough for 48-minutes a night to win not one, not two but three titles. Shout out to those best of buddies James and Wade still waiting for their first banner to be hung as a friendly tandem.

Something else that has been almost completely lost in Kobe’s ascent to hoops immortality is his evolution as a leader. In case you slept walked through the two additional titles he helped the Lakers to win in recent years then maybe you can take a quick crash course by examining how Bryant has handled two delicate situations in the last week.

First there was the trade of franchise anchor Derek Fisher.  While the entire world eagerly awaited Mamba’s venom to be unleashed on the Lakers front office Kobe was busy doing all he knows how to do – prepare for the next game.

Kobe kept it real by expressing his disappointment in seeing Fisher depart under such undue circumstances. But he didn’t allow his keeping it real feeling to go the wrong route. As the alpha dog in the locker room Bryant knows as he goes the team will follow.

A somber and saddened approach would spread through the team like a VD in a summer home rented by the cast of Jersey Shore. So Bryant did what all great leaders do. He took the high road, kept his true feelings close to the chest and went about his business like business as usual.

Before you knew it all the headlines that were waiting to splash across front pages worldwide were put into the scrap heap.

Then Sunday’s loss to the Grizzlies occurred which in itself was nothing to talk about other that the Lakers’ uninspired performance. However it was Mike Brown’s benching of Bryant late in the contest that again provided an excellent opportunity unleash the bloodhounds with the scent of Kobe controversy in the their eager noses.

To the disappointment of media members looking to sell more ad space, Bryant again took the high road.

As if playing it by script, Bryant expressed his natural disappointment yet chalked it up to his head coach doing what he thought was best.

That’s all folks. Nothing to see here. Please move along.

It makes for boring sports talk radio as now there are no facts to run with. Instead Bryant’s subdued reaction only allows idiots to play psychologist, looking to stir up controversy by attempting to read between the lines on Kobe’s comments.

No matter Bryant’s true feelings he’s doing what is necessary to keep any title hopes on track. Kobe is doing what most of us cannot do with sports – step back and see the big picture.

In the short term complaining about decisions he has no control over will hurt not help Bryant’s cause. He’s got to think of the men he shares a locker room with. Some seasoned vets like Pau Gasol know how to handle these situations. But the younger Lakers like Andrew Bynum clearly need basketball role models.

For Kobe this is all part of his evolution from a talented teenager to a seasoned legend. He wasn’t born an NBA leader but he’s taken the same approach to leadership as he has his game. Bryant has worked to improve his public persona to the point where he now is no longer a lightning rod for unnecessary controversy. It might make for some dull sizzle-free headlines but it certainly makes for a healthy drama-free locker room. I know one is better for getting clicks on-line while another is good for hanging banners. Even as a blogger I know which one I’d much rather have even if it means fewer eyes are scanning my writings.

Topics: Andrew Bynum, Derek Fisher, Dwyane Wade, Kobe Bryant, Lebron James, Mike Brown, Pau Gasol, Shaquille O'neal

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