Player to watch: Kobe Bryant | Magic Basketball



Dec 21

Player to watch: Kobe Bryant

Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images

Magic Basketball previews the 2011-2012 NBA season with a look at the players we’re most excited to watch this year.

In the 1960’s, a study titled the “Milgram Shock Experiment” was performed. The point of the study was to gauge how far normal humans will go just because they are directed to do so by authorities.

In a nutshell, participants believed they were administering painful shocks to subjects. They assumed they were doing serious damage, but many participants kept administering shocks because they were told to do so. When it was over, everyone involved claimed to have learned a ton about human nature and the costs of demands by authorities.

Now the study is discussed in nearly every psychology class but with one important caveat: the study was so far out of bounds by current ethical standards that it is no longer appropriate to conduct due to long term consequences of participant’s mental health. Still, professor’s always close by saying “it was the most fascinating experiment of all-time.”

I’m starting to feel like we are approaching an experiment in the NBA that should never be conducted again. Eventually, there will be a rule in place to limit the number of obstacles all-time greats can endure towards the end of their career, and it will probably be called “The Kobe Bryant No Dumping Rule.”

Ponder all of the madness that has unfolded for Kobe since the Lakers’ collapse in the playoffs:

  • Phil Jackson out. Mike Brown in.
  • Knee surgery in Germany.
  • Lamar Odom sent to Dallas for nothing.
  • David Stern vetoed a trade that would have formed the best backcourt in NBA history.
  • The Clippers landed Chris Paul.
  • The Lakers are considered by some as the second best team in Los Angeles.
  • And Kobe’s wife recently filed for divorce.

Seriously, how much can one guy handle? In a fair world, David Stern would have locked out the players again for “basketball reasons” so Kobe could have a few months to digest it all.

Take a minute to think about Tim Duncan. He is entering his 15th NBA season and, like Kobe, is closing in on the end of a historic career. The difference between the two is that fans are basically letting Duncan go in peace. No one is jumping at the chance to get on television and slam the Spurs, and I haven’t heard one expert snobbishly claim “Tim Duncan isn’t even a top five player in Texas anymore!” Rubes aren’t waiting for the Spurs to come to town this year so they can fill up the arena early and heckle Duncan sixty minutes before tipoff. Most fans appreciate “The Big Fundamental” and will happily discuss his four rings and thirteen All-Star appearances without much hostility.

It’s a totally different situation with Kobe Bryant because many people legitimately loathe him. Fans of the other 29 teams are thrilled that the Clippers may be the main attraction at Staples Center this winter. Crowds will be giddy if Chris Paul waltzes into Los Angeles and steals the heart of the city. And do you know which NBA player will fight to the death to avoid a hostile takeover in his building? Kobe Bryant.

The man has solidified his status among basketball’s greatest players by leading the league in competitive drive and determination every season. Right or wrong, he did it his way, and his way has resulted in a sure-fire first ballot Hall of Fame birth. His way has provided fans with fifteen straight seasons of thrills, and he has been rewarded with fifteen straight seasons of boos.

I was starting to think fans may soften their stance on Kobe as his rank among NBA players slowly falls and his career comes to an end, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. He is once again in the spotlight, and the league is antsy for the opportunity to jeer and watch him fail. He has handled pressure before with aplomb, but these issues go beyond normal pressure. It appears Kobe’s life has gone pear-shaped.

NBA fans are in for a treat no matter how Kobe plays this season. My prediction is it all ends in an absolute nightmare, but I am not sure who is going to be on the wrong end. Will the NBA have to enact the No Dumping Rule to prevent all-time greats from completely breaking down prematurely? Or will they enact the rule so all-time greats aren’t determined beyond belief to completely destroy the league one last time?

Only Kobe can tell.


As a Laker fan since Kareem and Kobe fan since 81pts, I'm not too worried about it. It is entirely possible that Kobe will end his career as the most hated man ever, but time will put things into perspective eventually. Too bad that he chose the black mamba as his nickname... Darth Vader would have been so much more apt, missing cartilage and all.


Kobe Bryant has always been one of the top "Players to Watch" in the league because he just might be the most entertaining player of his generation. I don't mean entertaining in a crazy "Dennis Rodman" way or a "Dwight Howard" personality way. I mean entertaining in that no other player in the league imposes his will with such determination as Kobe and it's always entertaining even if you're on the wrong side of it. Just look at that underbite!