2007-2008 MVP Season review
In 40 or 50 years from now, when we’re fortunate enough to be old men and women, one of us will take our grandchild to a Laker game. The kid will be wide-eyed and in awe as Grandpa points out the championship banners hanging from up high.
Looking up to the rafters, the kid sees No. 24 hanging among the Laker legends. “Grandpa, did you see Kobe play? What was he like?”
Grandpa stares at the massive jersey for a while. His whole demeanor changes, like he’s just finished punching out a pipe-wielding heavyweight champ of the world in a bar fight and jumping a motorbike over a canyon that would make Evel Knievel crap.
Grandpa turns to the boy, and this being Hollywood and all, he says through clinched teeth, “Kid, you ever see the movie, Jaws?”
The dumbstruck stuck kid blinks his answer and Grandpa continues anyway. “He was like that shark. His court was like that water. You know what they told people in that movie?”
The kid shakes his head.
“Get out of the water,” the old man says.
Grandpa continues to ramble on with hyperbole as if he’s describing the biggest bad *** of all superheroes and supervilliains combined into one being. “He was forged of molten steel, ate it for breakfast, too. While the sun slept, he woke and worked out with the Devil. He called it his 666 workout. Know what game he scored 81? His 666th. He once outscored an entire team in three quarters before they called him off. He was a one-man pack of wild dogs. He was the black mamba. He was…”
Of course, now the kid thinks Grandpa has lost his mind. While Grandpa rambles on, the kid thinks back to the first thing that he said, “Get out of the water.” Yeah, the kid thinks, I bet that’s what Kobe was like.
Meanwhile, Grandpa’s lost in memories of the 2007-08 season when Kobe won his first MVP.
“Legends leave their footprints, boy,” Grandpa says. He continues on and the kid gets the gist of what the old man is saying. It doesn’t matter the job, the industry, the competition. Whatever the realm, the true legends leave a mark of greatness.
Kobe Bryant is Legend. You may not like him, you may hate that he can drive you crazy a thousand different ways…or you may love him like a brother. Regardless of your opinion, you cannot argue that the man is legend.
You can try to argue away three rings. You can try to argue away 81. And now you can try to argue away MVP.
At some point people just need to admit that Kobe rubs them the wrong way. It will save a lot of time and effort. Admit it and be done with it.
The haters said he couldn’t win MVP when his team was barely above .500. This, despite dropping strings of 50-point and 40-point games on opponents to keep an overwhelmed team afloat. Turn the tables on the haters and give Kobe a team with one of the best records in the NBA and the haters start to look for new excuses.
It doesn’t matter. Kobe is the best player in the sport of basketball. Everyone has known it for years. Not only that, the man is the most fierce and feared gladiator in the game. I don’t think you could say that about a lot of MVPs, especially in recent years.
Now you can.
He has channeled that fierce drive, that personal pride, fury and will to win into MVP.
Some of us already knew he was the best. We knew he was the game’s best gladiator.
Kobe signs off the messages on his website with “Strength and honor,” a line quoted from Maximus in the movie, Gladiator. These days, however, he refers to Pau Gasol as Maximus Decimus Meridius, The Spaniard.
But there is really only one gladiator. Kobe Bryant is Gladiator. Kobe Bryant is Legend.
It wasn’t a glorious ride, this MVP season. In fact, it started off ugly — all good epics do. There was carnage in Laker land. As Phil Jackson described the first home game, “I turned to one of my coaches and said, ‘Are those boos?’ And one of them said, ‘Yeah, those are boos.’ I was surprised.”
A good portion of Laker fans were steamed about Kobe’s demand to be traded. You almost wish you could hear Kobe screaming back at the crowd like Maximus, “Are you not entertained? Is this not why you are here?”
But he, too, wanted a separation from the franchise Laker fans love. He was willing to put down the golden armor and battle in another arena.
As we now know, cooler heads prevailed. Afterall, you don’t trade Kobe Bryant. Even if he wants it.
The Lakers have come a long way from private meetings in Spain this summer with Jerry Buss and Kobe, and remarks by Buss from Hawaii about looking into trades. These were the worst of times.
And Laker haters loved it. They drank it up.
Who knows what Laker players will wear the golden armor years from now? May they be great and bring many rings. But, right now, we get to enjoy one of the greatest to ever suit up.
Guess what Laker haters? The MVP is wearing the purple and gold.
Kobe Bryant is MVP.
Kobe Bryant is Gladiator.
Kobe Bryant is Black Mamba.
Kobe Bryant is Legend.