This is a different type of situation than ones we normally have in sports. Kobe Bryant is retiring. He’s been awful as a professional basketball player the last few seasons — with this one specifically being extra horrific — and it seems as if it was Jelly Bean Jr. who was the last one to actually know he was retiring.
Truly, hell has no scorn like not ending your career on the time frame set forth by others. Easily add that to the hell not having scorn list. It could join the other things on that list such as players failing to live up to others’ expectations of them, players failing to live up to some weird moral code no one follows but was set forth by others who can in no way relate to being what athletes are and in no way know how they’d deal with the hilarious standards we uphold them to, etc. and etc.
As some humans that people are sincerely interested in tend to do, Bryant announced his retirement. Granted, he did so by way of some poem or whatever, but he did. He took to his preferred outlet, The Players’ Tribune, bypassed the media (something, honestly, few should care about), and the world collectively decided to appreciate and reflect on one of the league’s all-time best players.
MOO-HAHA! I’m kidding. Of course everyone decided to pounce on all things Kobe Bryant. Rather than taking at least a few hours to remember the good of his career, everyone seemingly decided to taking a steaming poop on all things Jelly Bean Jr. related.
It is what it is, though. There’s no right or wrong way to do this, as there’s still plenty of season left. Especially for beat writers, as they can’t simply ignore Kobe looking less like an NBA player and more like Jack O’Shootsatonsnki at our men’s league.
That said, I guess it’d be nice to try to do both. Acknowledging the complete horror story the last handful of years Kobe Bryant has presented us, and trying to appreciate all he did in the sport before that. My personal preference — as I fully admit that it is only that — is to try to appreciate Kobe before he’s gone. That’ll surely be hard as hell since he’s currently wretched, but we spend players’ entire careers diminishing their accomplishments. We need to appreciate them at some point. Preferably before they’re gone baby, gone.
While not likely realistic, a balance of both should be attempted. There’s no way to ignore how bad he’s been, but allowing that to overshadow the very end of something seems counterproductive — especially while trying to add him in a historical context to the league.
Eh, I digress. Because, again, honestly…who cares how each singular person goes about celebrating — or not, I suppose — the end of a guy’s career. We have a hard enough time agreeing on things that come backed with scientific data, nevertheless something which is strictly preferential.
Now for the actual topic at hand: Kevin Durant not knowing how real life works. See: picture below.
Listen, I literally just prefaced this entire column by pleading we should try to reflect a little more on all the awesomeness that was Kobe’s career, but the keyword here is in the past tense for a reason.
Kevin Durant is a rather strange guy to be upholding the virtues which are celebrating athletes blindly, too. The OKC forward has been given the benefit of the doubt for most of his career by the media, and — more importantly — has been playing in an organization which has spent their time during his entire career safeguarding him from the big bad Oklahoma City media.
It’s also worth noting that this isn’t Durant’s first complaint about the media. Although that one little tirade was far more rooted in reality. Heck, it isn’t even a trend, yet something that needed to be noted.
Nevertheless, when you couple Durant’s mostly positive interactions and protections from the media with the fact that he and Bryant are in a way trying to circumvent that by way of their separate affiliations with the The Players’ Tribune, it makes Durant’s need to protect Kobe by attacking the media strange. Not bad or evil or wrong, but strange.
Admitting that this was only my initial reaction, I first thought that it was possible Durant was using Kobe to better position himself down the road. By laying down the preemptive strike on the media if/when he ever leaves OKC or holds out or does anything that traditionally comes with media and fan backlash, that Durant thinks by doing this it’ll give pause to the media from continuing on with that sort of behavior. Especially, you know, when it comes to him whenever he gets to that fork in the road.
Then I remembered not everything has to be a complex, deeply rooted thing and this can merely be Durant’s inner-fanboy showing. Which is likely what’s happening here. Sure it could be a sprinkle of a bunch of other things too, but Durant may simply be a huge Kobe stan.
No matter. Durant isn’t exactly a balanced, unbiased member of the media yet. Be fair to him, though, as his time with The Players’ Tribune has been short. Give him a few high-volume posts for half the cut of the ad-rev and I think we’re only a month or two away from his first slideshow column.
As for my column, how the hell did it end up here?