The Cult Of Personality, The Lakers’ Lockerroom, & Leadership

Darius Soriano —  August 28, 2012

After what’s been a stellar offseason of work for the Lakers, the questions about this team are starting to come up more and more. It’s not so much that there are doubts about how good they can be (over the past week we’ve heard several players comment about how good the Lakers are on paper), but rather a closer examination of some of the things that can potentially trip this team up from reaching their ceiling.

One such question revolves around leadership. After all, the Lakers have brought in two players in Nash and Howard who are accustomed to being the face(s) of their team(s). With them joining Kobe and, to a somewhat lesser extent Pau Gasol, the Lakers now have multiple players who are used to having a voice in the deciding the direction of a team.

The initial question — Kobe/Nash question — is one that’s been raised by several people, but most notably Henry Abbott at TrueHoop. In a very good post that explored multiple angles to the potential pitfalls of their divergent leadership styles, Abbott cites some situations that show this partnership in leadership could work out quite well. In referencing the perception that their leadership styles won’t mesh:

Not so, says former Suns front office guy Amin Elhassan, who knows Nash well and carries a healthy fear of Bryant. He told me on TrueHoop TV recently that he sees the pairing as “the perfect marriage of good cop, bad cop. Kobe’s the guy who gets on guys — which some people would criticize and say Steve didn’t do enough of in his career. And on the other hand you have Steve to kind of build guys up and build their confidence up, which obviously has been a criticism of Kobe. … I think it’s a perfect, perfect marriage.”

I started to wonder if there were examples of teams that really had paired both kinds of leaders side-by-side. How did that turn out?

A clue comes from a footnote of Bill Simmons’ “The Book of Basketball.” In the tiny type at the bottom of page 478, there’s a Phil Jackson quote, borrowed from a must-read 1999 S.L. Price Scottie Pippen profile in Sports Illustrated:

“On the Bulls,” says Jackson, “[Scottie Pippen] was probably the player most liked by the others. He mingled. He could bring out the best in the players and communicate the best. Leadership, real leadership, is one of his strengths. Everybody would say Michael is a great leader. He leads by example, by rebuke, by harsh words. Scottie’s leadership was equally dominant, but it’s a leadership of patting the back, support.”

Wow. Take a note, Laker fans. Elhassan is looking like a genius: “Good cop, bad cop” is how most people’s pick as the best team ever was led.

I’d point out that you don’t have to actually stray far from recent Lakers’ (and Kobe’s) history to find an example of good cop, bad cop working out quite well. Derek Fisher and Kobe shared a similar leadership dynamic for a recent group of players that went to three straight Finals and won back to back championships. Much like Nash is perceived to be, Fisher was the man that would inspire his mates through his words and pick them up when they were down.

Of course, this current incarnation of the Lakers isn’t just a good cop and a bad cop. They’ve also added Dwight Howard to the mix. And with the big man comes a more fun loving approach to the game (an approach that’s received a fair amount of criticism, I might add) that can surely affect a team and its locker room.

However, I don’t think Howard’s loose, kind of goofy ways will be much of a problem (if one at all), even though there are some doubts. As I told D.J. Foster of ClipperBlog in a recent conversation, I think Dwight’s approach can actually provide another balance to the leaders already in the room.

When the Lakers made their surprising run to the Finals in 2008 one thing that stood out to me was the fun that team had playing together. That team enjoyed being and playing together; had fun on and off the court together. One of the reasons for that was having some young players like Bynum, Farmar, Sasha, and Ariza and the exuberance they had in making that run.

But another reason was because of Lamar Odom. LO was known to keep the locker room loose, to never get too up or too down, and to always have a smile on his face. While they’re certainly different individuals with different life experiences (and levels of — perceived, at least — maturity), that sort of sounds like Dwight Howard. Having him in the fold may end up being the perfect compliment to aging, grizzled veterans Kobe and Nash. Every team needs to take their jobs seriously, but they also need to enjoy playing the game together in order to mesh fully. A team can only reach its full potential if they’re 100% together, after all.

Of course, leadership is never that simple and the characterizations presented above are a bit simplistic. I’ve seen Dwight be as demonstrative as any other player in talking to a teammate. The same can be said of Nash, who I’ve observed barking for one of his guys to get to the right spot on the floor. I’ve also seen Kobe take a guy aside and explain to him calmly what to expect on the upcoming possession (as well as heard teammates recount all the times he’s taken them under their wing to aid in their development). All these guys are complex; they’re human. They’re going to show all sides of their personality when trying to get the most out of their guys.

Next year, we’ll see the many sides of these men in their quest to guide this team to where they want to be. But, from where I sit, they look to have the right mix of personalities to get where they want to go. And, I’d much rather have that be the case than not.

Darius Soriano

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91 responses to The Cult Of Personality, The Lakers’ Lockerroom, & Leadership

  1. Darius,

    With all due respect, that Abbott article had his usual quota of Abbotisms:

    “Bryant, on the other hand, has long been prone to “you believe these crappy players I have to play with” looks of disgust. You’re not a good shooter, that look, from the league’s player most likely to ignore open teammates, seems to say: Pass it to me next time. ”

    Seriously? How can you dignify this as “good”?

  2. #1. I look at the premise of the article, which was “I thought this wouldn’t work, now I think different” while using some very good sources and examples. Hence, I thought the article was good.

    As an aside, Abbott can have any opinion he wants about Kobe and people can agree with him or not. The same can be said about Simmons. Or, to be fair, the same can be said about me. I try to see the overall point in these things, not a turned phrase or two (or three).

    Lastly, I don’t want to turn this into a huge discussion about Kobe, but he’s a pretty complex person/player. There’s not just one side to him. There are times people write about one side while not acknowledging the other. Sometimes this can be upsetting, but it doesn’t change the fact that there’s more than one side, and such things never really sway me too far in either direction.

  3. The Lakers need to develop a tight locker room that has no finger pointing when things go wrong.
    l remember a Pat Riley phrase he called “peripheral opponents”. This referred to outside distractions such as the media. The Lakers need to start becoming hardened and mentally tough as a group right now. Everybody will be gunning for them.

  4. Darius,

    Understood. There’s been a ton of discussion about Abbott recently, and I won’t regurgitate that, save for the point that Abbott claims he’s objective, when he’s anything but. At least Simmons wears his heart on his sleeve.

    I don’t buy into the “Kobe is beyond reproach” theory either, but where I disagree with you is on the premise of the article.

    You don’t have to go back to the ’90s Bulls to wonder if “this” will work. You can look at the Kobe teams of ’09 and ’10 to see that not only will it work, but Kobe actually welcomes the “Good Cop, Bad Cop” dynamic.

    Nash himself referred to this after the trade in July – http://tinyurl.com/8zeb34f.

    In my (subjective) opinion, Abbott floats a rhetorical question (Will this work?!!! ), ignores the most recent/valid evidence (Kobe with Fisher) and then, as is his wont, puts in some garbage (Kobe is least likely to pass, MJ did a Kobe) to make sure he gets his page hits.

    Not a good article.

  5. Ahhh.. Good old sports writing. The sky is blue, and I’d definitely rather have it be blue, like it is, than not.

  6. The one thing that will help the player dynamic the most on this team is the experience of the newcomers. Other than Meeks the FO acquired three players(Nash, Dwight, Jamison) who have collectively played 38 years in the NBA. That speaks in itself that they know what needs to be done, and how to make this thing work for the ultimate prize. If these were young pups I would hold off on my enthusiasm, but the haul the FO managed to assemble is just almost not fair.

  7. Darius – great stuff, as always. Excellent points about Dwight, especially. I think a lot of people are really quick to point out how Howard’s attitude is detrimental in the eyes of the other players, because he’s not “serious” enough, or what have you. However, he, not Rashard Lewis or Turkoglu, was the emotional leader on that Orlando team that went to the Finals. It’s not like this guy has a history of being a total clown without leadership capabilities – he does. The proof is right there written in history.

  8. The fact that we are quoting Abbott and Simmons simply means we need to turn the corner to training camp. Most everything around right now is football and baseball.

    Training camp…training camp…training camp!

  9. There’s always some challenging times in a workplace enviornment but I don’t see that affecting this year’s group. Nash, Jamison, Meeks all took less money to come to the Lakers to win a ring. I also think the burden that is lifted off Nash and Howard of having to do everything for their teams works in our favor. They’ll be more receptive to advice because they have a group, specifically players, who can help them. That wasn’t the case for the last few years for both. And everybody are professionals who work hard and play harder.

    I still feel Dwight will be better by coming here. LeBron was such a force in Cleveland but it wasn’t until he got to Miami that we really saw him tap into all his potential. Dwight being with Lakers alongside these players with the added motivation of being killed in the media like he has been will only fuel his fire.

  10. Gotta love the summer. Not a lot of BB with college and pro football about to kick off. Beyond anything else, anything else, these guys want to win. What Abbott seems to miss is that Kobe Nash and D12 will do whatever it takes to win. We have watched Kobe adjust his game based on the skills of the players around him for 17 years. We have seen him adjust his own body based on his perceived needs strengths and weaknesses. Kobe is a realist above all else. Nash and D12 crave that championship feeling. Neither has ever been to the mountain top. Kobe has 5 times. If nothing else everyone in the league knows that Kobe knows better than them all what it takes to be a champion. I suspect they came here because it represented the best chance for either of them to reach the pinnacle of their profession. They are professionals, and artists, some of the greatest at their respective crafts, not egotists as many assume. I suspect they will do everything within their ability to make this one of the best teams in history.

  11. Why do I love this site? Because the writing is amazing. Fantastic stuff as always.

  12. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v27Hk5OIe-k

    We always knew Kobe modeled himself after Michael. But this is still amazing to see side by side.

  13. Tension is not conducive to performing well; a little bit of “goofiness” can go a long way towards eliminating that tension.

  14. Stopped reading and skipped straight down to the comments section when I saw the Henry Abbott reference.

    any_one_mouse covered the reasons I did so pretty well.

    Cliff notes version: You have a known Laker/Kobe hater who denies having any biases despite having an obvious obsession and blatant biases, quoting someone who openly admits to having a blind spot where Kobe and the Lakers are concerned.

    I like this place and I generally think that the posts here are thought provoking and interesting and lead to good discussion, but anytime I see Abbott’s name my only response is going to be disapproval that he’s still being linked to or engaged with.

    Abbott is an awful hack and has no place in our basketball discourse.

  15. I expect the contrasting personalities of Kobe, Nash and Howard to mesh just as well as their contrasting skills on the court. I expect the chemistry to occur immediately both on and off the court……and it will be a sight to behold.

    The veteran leadership of a ring hungry Jamison on the bench, along with a young and motivated Meeks should also add to the chemistry.

    And last but not least, the departure of Bynum should also do wonders for team chemistry. Without Bynum, the entire team will be on the same page, with their priorities in order. One bad apple can ruin the chemistry of the entire batch, and I don’t see a single bad apple on the entire team.

  16. I find it interesting that Lakers’ fans now treat Abbott the same way they accuse him of treating Kobe.

  17. Totally agree with Jim C. (#14). I’ve gone back and forth with Abbott via email and nothing from that experience dissuaded me from my belief that he is indeed little more than a hit seeking hack.

    Darius protests otherwise, but I am sure if he is under no formal agreement to link Abbott or reference him, he feels obliged to do so if he wishes to remain a part of the True Hoop Network. And for the same reasons, Darius does not really criticize Abbott at all. I understand Darius’ position, but I regret it: giving Abbott any platform here compromises this otherwise superb site.

  18. Darius protests otherwise, but I am sure if he is under no formal agreement to link Abbott or reference him, he feels obliged to do so if he wishes to remain a part of the True Hoop Network.

    ————–

    To be honest, this comment sort of offends me. What you’ve essentially done is question my integrity. Criticize my writing, disagree with the premise of what I write, whatever. But if you think I lack integrity or would sell out in any way, shape, or form, you’re so far off base I can barely see you in the distance.

  19. Sorry to offend you, Darius. I love this site and your work; but I don’t believe that things are as black and white as we tell ourselves. Sheathe your sword; as long as you believe your honor is intact, no one can take that from you.

  20. darius: sometimes it’s difficult to see oneself from within.

    having said that, who cares, right? the important thing to remember is rule number one: whoever is the boss, the boss is always right. rule number two: if the boss is ever wrong, refer to rule number one.

    now let’s change the subject and moving right along, and this is in reference to the laker’s greatest championship team countdown, the important thing to remember at this point is not which former championship team is numero uno, but in ten years how many more championships will the lakers put up and will be mentioned in a new scrambled top 10 greatest of all time?

    Ten years seems like a long time, but the last thirty went by pretty fast.

    any counting down here begins today until the first regular season game. and a few exhibitions wouldn’t hurt either.

    Go Lakers !

  21. As a writer for this site, “I” am offended by this comment. I haven’t had many chances to “criticize” any other writer, whether it be Bill Simmons or Henry Abbott, but I have done it in the past at my own site. Sure, it’s great to be part of the site that is part of the TrueHoop Network but we never go into the site thinking we’re going to go after every writer that criticizes the Lakers, especially the ones that we are affiliated with. We have this site to analyze about the Lakers and talk basketball. We realize we can’t please everybody but we do have our own minds and I am astonished that people think that Darius would sell out (which, in turn, implies that I and the other great writers of this site have done the same thing).

  22. #20. I own this site. I’m my own “boss” in this case. So, I’m assuming you’re saying I’m always right? Thanks!

  23. I’m in the camp that believes the locker room will sort itself out well enough. To anyone who looks at things without a preconceived bias, Kobe long ago proved he was a better teammate than his early career reputation suggested. The guy grew and changed, realized he couldn’t do it along, and we’ve seen that on the floor since probably 2006-07.

    Guys like Ariza, Sasha, Turiaf all spoke highly of Kobe’s support, and he’s since gotten along well with so-called “reputation” players like Artest and Barnes. The results speak for themselves: he’s a good teammate.

    The one lingering question that will be interesting to watch is Howard’s commitment: if the season wears on and he hasn’t re-upped, that could become an issue with the other guys who are locked in for more time in L.A.

    Remember how Kobe’s pending “Is he staying or going?” questions disrupted the chemistry in 2003-04 (along with Eagle), and again in summer/fall 2007, when he asked to be dealt? Or even with Pau last year, up until the trade deadline passed? At least those two guys were able to put their best effort on the floor and not let it ruin everyone else’s season.

    Dwight’s “stay or go” troubles, on the other hand, undermined the entire Magic organization. I don’t want to see a replay of that in L.A., in any way, shape or form.

  24. As I’ve said numerous times… Abbott is a good writer and a very smart basketball mind. I understand Kobe is a god to many here so it’s tough for some to hear Kobe get made fun of. Kobe is an imperfect human being and imperfect basketball player. At one time he in my opinion was the second greatest basketball player of all time behind MJ. At that time he still wasn’t perfect. Jordan wasn’t either. I think that needs to set in for some fanatics. Of c

  25. When Kurt started this site it was a place for NBA nerds to discuss real basketball topics. Darius has continued on with that tradition even though it has become harder and harder to do so for various reasons. If people don’t think there is any merit to what Abbott writes re Kobe then maybe you should watch more tape, check the advanced stats and re read Abbott. Rince and repeat until you achieve the desired affect. Abbott hasn’t said anything about Kobe that Phil Jackson himself hasnt said. Phil even said he wished Kobe played more like LeBron.

  26. darius: correct and welcome.

    can’t wait (for the season to begin) and contemplate the laker season to unfold. haven’t been this excited since kobe and shaq were stringing three championships together and the year Magic was drafted by the Lakers.

    Darius; you guys keep up the solid work that you do. we laker fans have varying degrees of insights and opinions and i’m sure you wouldn’t have it any other way. thus the name:

    Go Forum Blue and Gold

    Go Lakers

  27. Darius:

    I’m not sure I understood your comment:
    “I find it interesting that Lakers’ fans now treat Abbott the same way they accuse him of treating Kobe.”

    Would you care to explain? I can’t speak for anyone else, but I’ve always maintained that Abbott’s articles are worth reading – as long as they don’t reference Kobe, and he can’t help get in his own way when it comes to 24.

    Just curious – what are your thoughts vis-a-vis Kobe/Abbott?

    Apologies in advance if anything in my post(s) offend you – absolutely non-intentional :)

  28. I’ve known Darius for about 4-5 years now, and I’ve never once observed him show preference for one hoops media source over another. Maybe Synergy Sports, but that’s because they’re the absolute best and they work in data.

    Our discussions as writers for the site about being part of TrueHoop Network consist of “oh btw, we’re part of TrueHoop Network. This changes exactly nothing about what we produce.”

    As for Abbott or any other writer that one may call a “hack,” it is a common logical fallacy to argue against the person making an argument as opposed to against the argument. I firmly agree that Abbott has a bias against Kobe and somewhat against the Lakers. But does this mean we should disregard all of his ideas simply because he is himself? Perhaps, but this is for each person to decide. To claim, however, that everyone should do so is not only arrogant, but also logically fallacious.

    It is fair for everyone to possess their own opinion and debate the merits of each. It is not, however, fair to denounce someone’s opinion outright without discussing its merits first.

    As for the actual discussion at hand, I believe that Kobe as a perfectionist, competitor, and fanatic has never had the personality to be a leader in the sense of someone who builds up their comrades, brings the team together, builds a sense of trust. He is the one who pushes his teammates to be the best they can be, even if it means kicking a few asses along the way. Which is why he has always needed that foil, that other leader, the one who can do all the aforementioned things. For the longest time, it was Fisher, Phil, and sometimes guys like LO.

    That dynamic can easily be emulated by Nash and Dwight, so I have no worries about the Lakers mental performance this upcoming season. So long as the team has time to gel, stays healthy, and comes into the postseason with a good amount of rest and health, they should be well set up to make a strong push for the title next year.

  29. #27. What I mean is that people say he has a blind spot in reference to Kobe and thus has a bias. But, over time, it seems people now have a blind spot in regards to him and thus have a bias.

    It’s to the point that people say anything he writes is dumb or for page views or whatever other reason they’ve made up in their mind. So, basically, I find it funny that people now disparage him in the same way they claim he disparages Kobe. When, in actuality, you’d see that it’s much more complex than that.

    As an aside, I’ve argued the same thing about how some Lakers’ fans have treated LeBron over his career while defending Kobe. Some fans use a perceived bias against Kobe as an excuse to put forth a similar bias against LeBron.

  30. @Zephid:

    I agree with most of what you said. I just don’t see merit in Abbott wondering aloud whether a Kobe/Nash experiment will work from a *leadership* perspective, when that’s the way it has always worked with Kobe-led teams. You’ve enumerated the reasons yourself. The team needs a foil to Kobe’s personality, and Fish/Odom etc. and a couple of chips have provided it.

    So, to wonder whether Nash and Kobe can co-exist as leaders is…pointless. Especially, if you use that as an excuse to zing Kobe some more.

  31. Darius,

    Thanks for responding. Do you think Abbott has a bias against Kobe?

  32. I think he has a strong opinion about the best way to play basketball and that Kobe has come to embody *some* of the things he sees as not in line with his views.

    What I’ve always argued is that with any player, a full analysis is complicated and never black and white.

  33. oooh – look at you, trying to be all PC :)

  34. Abbott is right about Kobe forcing tough perimeter shots because we’ve seen it. He’s also right about the best shot possible is from the open man. And LeBron and Paul are the best clutch players because they can give you the best of both worlds we’ve seen it that too. I don’t see how anyone can debate these facts. He goes overboard at times with the constant same ol’ song columns but there’s some truth to what he says.

    As for the “looks of disguist” quote. Players show passion in different ways. Kobe wants to win and he shows it how he sees fit.

  35. Oh oh. Looks like the big untold payola scandal of basketball blogging is about to be exposed! Darius, I just can’t keep it a secret any longer. I don’t care anymore about the Swiss bank accounts and the parties. Yes, Abbott has us all in his pocket, man! I feel so ashamed.

  36. darius; seems you hit a nerve today. or a couple of nerves to say the least.

    forthright is a word i use to describe someone who holds true to their word over time.

    it takes someone who’s forthright to be able to maintain a steady thought no matter the subject no matter the contrarians. it’s important to remember that one’s thoughts are simply that, thoughts. one’s opinions are simply that, also one’s opinions.

    it’s important to know that people recognize that and that your views remain respected.

    at the end of the day, what are we but an array of varying thoughts and opinions whose outward perceptions on this blog are based on our thoughts and opinions and how we interact and inwardly respect one another.

    Darius: stay the course.

    Lakers front office: time to add another piece. so we can continue w/our thoughts and opinions.

    Go Lakers

  37. If Abbott has something to say and it makes sense then use it. This is a basketball site and all. You just have to ignore the blind hate that he has for Kobe.

    Simmons has good thoughts too when you ignore his Lakers hate too.

    Much like a picker, you have to dig through the crap to get to the decent stuff.

    So relax everyone.

    Bye.

  38. I hate myself for ever agreeing with Abbott, but I do share his view of Kobe’s on-court personality and demeanor. Homer fans and people with relatively low EQ generally disagree. Bashing Darius for quoting the guy and/or agreeing with him is ridiculous.

    However, Abbott is clearly stirring the pot with a purpose. He has an agenda in his writing, it’s just hard to determine whether he does it because he hates the Lakers or because it brings him more traffic and coverage (part of his job description). It’s probably both – but it’s definitely not “neither”.

  39. Abbott writes about Kobe the way T.J. Simers writers about everything. It’s too bad, but because Abbott analyzes a lot of other interesting questions in a more dispassionate way. I guess I have to take the good with the bad.

  40. My $.02:

    1. Abbott is smart, but his unwillingness to accept his own bias undercuts his credibility. Aside from a few over the top homers, I think we all know Kobe is imperfect; but pointing that out in every article about the Lakers is a window to Henry’s bias. This doesn’t make him any less smart, but it does make him a lot less credible when he ventures into opinion (or selective use of fact).

    2. There is a huge difference between Abbott’s bias, which he steadfastly denies, and the views of people on this board who publicly admit their bias towards Abbott when they say “if he writes it, I won’t read it.” In both cases there’s an obvious bias, but in only one case is it admitted. I tend to respect those with greater self awareness.

    3. It has been said here and elsewhere, but I think it is quite likely based on recent history that the mix of positive support from the likes of Nash will mesh quite well with the tough love approach from Kobe. Far less talented Laker teams have responded well to this blended leadership style, and I don’t see this squad being any different.

    I imagine that Dwight might not have tolerated Kobe’s heavy handed approach when the balance came from a terribly over the hill Derek Fisher, but when the soft glove covers the hand of Steve freaking Nash, I think it’ll be just swell….

  41. If I am reading a car magazine, and one particular writer continues to ignore the speed, handling, power, beauty and craftsmanship of a Ferrari, and instead chooses to obsessively focus on the fact that a Ferrari is a gas guzzler in every Ferrari related article he writes……its a pretty simple conclusion that the writer simply does not like Ferraris. Perhaps he lost a girlfriend to a guy driving one, or he knows that any Ferrari hating article will attract hits from the dedicated Ferrari fans, but one thing is clear, the dude hates Ferraris. He will attempt to defend himself by stating that a Ferrari is infact a gas guzzler, as if

  42. At least Simmons is upfront with his homerism/bias. I respect the fact that he doesn’t pretend to be objective about Kobe and the Lakers. Abbott on the other hand, loses credibility because puts himself out there as unbiased. We all know he has a axe to grind with the Lakers and Kobe specifically.

    With that said, I agree with some of his criticisms of Kobe. Thing is I never see the volume of dissection aimed at other players. He Kobe articles far out number his articles on any other player. Its like Kobe is his pet project. I still don’t get bent out of shape about it. I can take Abbott or leave him (mostly the latter).

  43. It’s been said already, but Abbott’s basic problem (ironically, the same problem he argues Kobe has) is that he doesn’t understand his own limitations. He doesn’t acknowledge or seem aware of his own biases. He likes piggybacking off smart statisticians, but because of his lack of understanding the nuances of these numbers, he falls victim to confirmation bias. He doesn’t understand stats as well as a Neil Paine or yes, even, Hollinger – but he tries to wield them with the same power, without understanding his mistakes. It’s a nearly complete lack of awareness on his part.

    That doesn’t discredit everything he tries to do. But there are far more self-aware, analytical writers out there (including one on his own blog in Arnovitz). I’ve minimized how much I read of him over time, because I don’t want to support him with clicks. But like someone above says, I also don’t think everyone should be in an uproar anytime someone links to Abbott or agrees with Simmons. It’s personal preference.

  44. Definitely not the type of Kat to get myself all Riled up and Annoyed @ the Views of an Individual (Abbott) whose Opinions about said player (Kobe) isn’t any more Valid than my own. Bottom Line: If you Disagree with his perspective, ignore it. Don’t give him the satisfaction of reading/clicking on his articles as it pertains to Kobe. The question that one can ask his/herself is this: Would your opinion of Abbott differ if he came out and just Admitted to the masses that he IS biased towards Kobe and the Lakers, instead of ‘hiding it’ as several individuals have stated? Seems as if Simmons gets more of ‘a pass’ because he’s an Unadulterated/Stand on a Soapbox and scream to the Top of his Lungs Lakers Hater. If Abbott followed suit, would he get a reprieve from Laker Fans? Just FFT (Food For Thought.)

  45. if Abbott reads this blog I bet he is absolutely loving these comments.

    as far as his bias against Kobe, I think he has had it for so long and is such a stat geek that he genuinely believes a lot of what he writes.

    i am not going to question his integrity – it’s just basketball – but i dont read his stuff because between his biases and statophilia i simply dont agree w/ or enjoy many of his articles.

  46. I almost don’t want to prolong the thread just for the sake of commenting on bloggers, but I think that some valid points have been made.

    Abbott clearly knows his stuff, but at the same time he appears to have a distinct anti-Kobe bias, even if it’s only in the backhanded compliments he gives, and his (well documented here and elsewhere) use of cherry-picked numbers to “support” his arguments.

    I find it interesting that Simmons generally avoids bashing on FB&G, but the reasons have been elucidated above. He openly admits his Boston fandom (and embraces it). Plus, I think that he GETS IT. He hates the Lakers as a Boston fan, but he respects and understands. This quote from his most recent piece on Grantland (about the Red Sox-Dodgers deal) sums it up for me: “I hate the Lakers with every fiber of my being. And you know what? I respect the hell out of them, too. They’re a really smart franchise that always puts thought into their moves. You have to hand it to them.”

    As it should be for a fan.

    Abbott’s issue (in my humble opinion) is that he lets his fandom seep into what he postulates as unbiased analysis. And due to a lot of his analysis being centred on Kobe and the Lakers, that naturally rubs a lot of us fans the wrong way!

    On another note, keep up the excellent work Darius. You’ve carried on FB&G in the tradition that Kurt set up, and I think that you’re doing Laker fans proud. You’re balanced, even-keeled, and not given to wild statements, which makes this blog a far more pleasant place to visit than many other sports blogs.

  47. Not Charlie Rosen August 28, 2012 at 4:51 pm

    I think my problem with Abbott—since this comment thread is pretty much about him at the moment, since the subject of his post, “OMG how will it work?!?” was pretty clear to most of us who’ve paid attention to the Lakers and other championship teams over the years—is not in what he says, but in his intent.

    I’ve leveled many of the same criticisms at Kobe that he has, but it’s generally balanced with several notions: A) He’s smarter about basketball than I am, and the one actually on the court, so it’s possible and even likely I’m missing something; B) You really can’t argue with 5 rings as a result, whatever he does; C) Come on, I mean…can you really ever call Smush or Kwame “the open man”?

    Not to mention that watching the games instead of the numbers often plays devil’s advocate to any criticism. Was watching the 81-point game on Classic last night, and I was honestly surprised how often Kobe passed the ball…81 points aside, the game itself involved an 18-point comeback in a game they had to win, and at least two of the biggest plays during that comeback (right as Toronto’s back was broken) were passes to Smush and Odom for open 3’s.

    And any criticism I give is almost always with the intent of “Man, in a vacuum, could you imagine that he could be even better than he already is?”

    With Abbott, he’s not a Lakers fan, so there’s no aspirational context to his criticisms, and even his most complimentary moments are framed in some sort of “even though he’s wrong/bad, it still somehow works,” with the ultimate intent appearing to be “He’s not as good as you think he is.” Kinda like an evangelic atheist, who doesn’t just want to not believe in God, but wants to actively prove that you’re wrong for doing so.

    Doesn’t mean that his points are automatically wrong, but I don’t read him anymore for the same reasons that I prefer Carl Sagan and Neil deGrasse Tyson over Richard Dawkins.

  48. My issue with some of Abbot’s writing is that he sets up his personal vision of what basketball (as an ideal) should be as the unquestioned and unquestionable point of departure for his analysis. Which is fine if you share his Platonic Ideal, but which engenders no real dialogue if you find his starting point problematic.

    To his credit, though, he does have a clear and consistent position which I imagine is a good thing for a writer of national scope to develop.

  49. Here’s a Zach Lowe article on Kobe’s role in the new offense, that is well-written, at least in my opinion:)

    http://tinyurl.com/99w3n2r

    Not only does the author criticize Bean, but he also balances it out by talking about what he should be doing, hypothesizing why he does what he does, and extrapolating it out to how he thinks this should/will play out.

  50. An article that made me happy was this one: http://blog.lakers.com/lakers/2012/08/27/lal-player-tracker-aug-27/

    Simply because Ron has been working out over the offseason. Might see him start this season like he played in April.

  51. Zephid (28),

    I disagree with the notion that Kobe leads only in the sense that he pushes perfection by often kicking some ass along the way. To say that he “never had the personality to be a leader in the sense of someone who builds up their comrades, brings the team together, builds a sense of trust” is to overgeneralize Kobe’s leadership and to forget examples when he’s actually done those things. I would like to point out all the examples when he’s cheered from the bench in blowouts, times when he’s hugged Shannon Brown very closely after a high flying dunk or made 3, when he encouraged Trevor Ariza as a role player from a brotherly sense, all the times he backed Pau Gasol publicly, or the huddles during the NBA Finals when he gathered everyone and encouraged them all to dig deep and play together. That, to me, reveals a side of Kobe that builds up his comrades, brings his together, and builds trust.

  52. brings his teammates together*

  53. Lakers fans are going to need tough skin this year. Scrutiny will come in waves from Abbott especially.

  54. Since I’m partially responsible for kicking off the long discussion, let me add some additional context for my “hack” designation with regards to Abbott.

    Others have touched on the reasons in various ways, but I’ll do my best to sum them all up.

    Before doing so, allow me to fully admit that I am biased and have a negative opinion of the subject matter. This is my personal point of view strongly colored by my own perceptions.

    1. He denies having any bias, when the opposite is clearly true to anyone who has read him for a meaningful length of time. (Of which I myself was at one time.)

    This is the biggest of his issues. Everything else is secondary. It’s the basketball writing equivalent of Fox News claiming to be “Fair and Balanced” when they quite obviously have a conservative lean.

    How do we know Abbott has a bias? Because of the sheer volume of his articles criticizing Kobe. He almost never goes after any other player in the league for sins like shooting too much or not being as clutch as we think they are or whatever. He’s probably written more negative articles about Kobe in the last year or two than just about every other player in the league combined.

    How else do we know? Because of his selective usage of data. When Kobe screws up for instance, you can pretty much guarantee a “why isn’t Kobe giving Bynum more touches/why is he such a ballhog” etc. type article the next day. When Kobe has a monster game and carries the Lakers on his back? Not a peep out of Abbott or, instead, a backhanded sort of article along the lines of “sure, Kobe had a good game but the percentages were that he played the wrong way” sort of thing.

    When someone like Bynum or Gasol has a disappearing act, Abbott still postulates it as being Kobe’s fault for not getting them the ball enough for instance or for giving them mean looks and hurting their tender feelings.

    The reason why people don’t have the same grudge against Simmons as they do Abbott is that he fully discloses his biases, and this allows readers to choose how much weight to give to the viewpoints he expresses on certain subjects.

    2. He holds back data points that don’t fit his point of view, or switches gears on a particular argument to different sets of data without really informing the reader.

    I posted a C.A. Clark article a little while back that shows how Abbott misuses stats. Whether intentionally to mislead his readers or, more charitably, unintentionally, he just doesn’t know his stuff like a more knowledgeable stat geek like Hollinger.

    Stats by themselves are inherently imperfect, but when you’re giving them to someone who doesn’t really know how to use them very well, they can become downright dangerous.

    As Mark Twain once said, there are three types of lies. Lies, damned lies, and statistics. The point of Twain saying this is to point out just how much statistics can be manipulated.

    3. His articles are intended to persuade, not to inform or create dialog.

    There are several types of writing in this world. You can write to entertain people, to inform people, to persuade people, etc.

    Abbott’s stated purpose is almost always to “inform”, but his actual writing is almost always written in the “persuade” format. This ties back to the first two points, but he does not simply present both sides of an argument or put all the data on the table as a dispassionate observer and let the reader come to their own conclusions.

    Instead, he opens from the premise that his intent is to inform, presents himself as a completely unbiased authority, and then writes a persuasion intended article. Whether he does this to try and generate page hits or is just unaware that he’s doing it, he has been trying to convince people of certain viewpoints for years.

    4. His writing style is smug and he comes across as a smart *** know-it-all.

    This may just be me, but I suspect that Abbott rubs a lot of people here the way a certain commenter here at FB&G sometimes has come across in the past would if given a national platform. (Name withheld to avoid starting a flame war.)

    Abbott can rub some folks in this comment section the wrong way because he often present his views like he just received them from god himself engraved on stone tablets. Whereas other writers in basketball write in a way as to provoke discussion and spirited debate, Abbott writes like we’re all idiots who need our misguided and dumb views beaten out of us.

    You can almost see the wheels spinning in his head. “Maybe the 137th article about why Kobe isn’t clutch will be the one that makes people realize how right I am and wakes them from their delusions!”

    To Summarize:

    Abbott has biases he won’t acknowledge that he makes worse by his (possibly intentional) selective and very sloppy use of information.

    He has a smug and condescending writing style and he writes attack articles about the Lakers in general, and Kobe in particular, and an incredible frequency while other stars and teams almost never get any sort of negative attention.

  55. Thank you Snoopy2006 for this (About Abbott):
    “He likes piggybacking off smart statisticians, but because of his lack of understanding the nuances of these numbers, he falls victim to confirmation bias. He doesn’t understand stats as well as a Neil Paine or yes, even, Hollinger – but he tries to wield them with the same power, without understanding his mistakes. It’s a nearly complete lack of awareness on his part.”

    As someone whose background is Research, I find Henry Abbott very annoying because he clearly doesn’t understand the basis for his Kobe Bashing. If he did he wouldn’t write most of his Kobe based blogs. As for those saying Abbott is smart, SMH, thats just comical. I guess he is smart the same way Linsay Lohan or Kim Khadashian is smart cos they have money.

  56. @Kevin, Laker fans dont need a tough skin. Only those just getting on the Bandwagon can be affected cos real Laker Fans should be used to the world hating us. Also, the vehement defense of Kobe isn’t a sign of not having tough skin but rather a reaction to people bringing the stupidity of the Likes of Henry Abbott on a space that is supposed to be Laker Friendly.
    Certain people who think quoting or agreeing with Abbott somehow makes him smart (Even though Abbott sounds like someone who has never opened a Statistics book in his life). Or someone on this Blog saying Chris Paul and Lebron are more Clutch than Kobe (despite the fact that their so called “Clutchness” has only amounted to 1 ring between them). Anyone coming on this blog and throwing out stats that r meaningless shouldn’t expect people to simply bow down and agree. I will say this again, the variables in Basketball are too many to be able to throw out a single stat when trying to prove a point. (Especially when even an advanced stat like PER is clearly biased to certain positions and offensive systems and is severely lacking in measuring defensive ability). I would advise the Abbott’s and Abbott Wannabes to take a look at Wall Street and see how Quants were rendered meaningless by randomness and a lack of acknowledging uncontrolled variables. Basketball isnt Baseball. While Stats are great they tell probably half the story. You cant ignore your eyes. If Stats were end all be all, then Daryl Morey would have assembled a championship team already and Money ball would have produced at least 1 world series trophy.

  57. Not sure how old this is, but an interesting look behind the scenes of our scouting staff:

    http://www.nba.com/lakers/120821_behindlalscoutingstaff

  58. I find it interesting that Lakers’ fans now treat Abbott the same way they accuse him of treating Kobe.

    Look, I get that you respect Abbott and have interacted with him, and I would guess he is a nice guy, good family man etc.

    But the evidence on his view of Kobe Bryant is very, very clear. Abbott is either trolling Lakers fans or is delusional, or some combo thereof. This is a widely held opinion, and I know people who can’t stand Kobe or the Lakers who were fed up with Abbott over a year ago.

    Like I have said: I could give examples all day. The long email he sent me alone proves the point.

    And Kevin is right in #53. Abbott will write about Kobe’s shot selection once a week or more, for sure. Lowe is much better, but he is a Boston fan, and it shows sometimes. Hollinger is between the two, and other guys like Mason, Ziller and Moore….

    As to the issue itself, it matters some, but nowhere near as much as Howard, Nash, and Kobe staying healthy and how much Brown gets out of the defense. The Lakers will have a very good offense.

  59. When, in actuality, you’d see that it’s much more complex than that

    ____________

    Sorry, Darius, but you are just tone-deaf on Abbott.

  60. Homer fans and people with relatively low EQ generally disagree.

    Abbott is actually the “low EQ” guy. He took the psych test that some NBA draftees take an scored 1.7 out of 10 on “awareness.” Just one test–but it tells you something. Abbott, of course, didn’t examine it or try to learn from it

    And yes, I would give Abbott more slack if he owned his bias. I am certainly biased about Abbott, as a Lakers fan. Owning bias is the key to dealing with it.

  61. setting up ‘strawmen’ is a classic debating ploy.. er.. tool – YCLIU.

  62. As everyone knows, I am a huge Kobe supporter, but I do not dwell on his biggest detractor. However, I think it is clear from above that if you mention a certain writer on this site, then the subsequent convo will be about that very opinionated writer and KB. The intent of this post was to discuss Laker leadership and instead this is just a big plug for a certain writer and his blog. For what its worth, IMO, using that guy as a reference or a source on anything about Kobe or the Lakers does not strengthen the case or the story – it weakens it.

  63. I am not saying that Darius did that. He referenced the article and he has a right to do so. This site’s reader comment section (which was predictable) is a plug for the referenced blog.

  64. rr,
    Ha. The fact that I don’t take every criticism (some fair, some not as much) as serious as the next guy means I’m tone deaf? I think some fans are over-sensitive. My thoughts on Henry have little to do with my interactions with him, my affiliation with ESPN, or any other thing people want to make up simply because they have trouble understanding a simple truth: I try to see the argument people make rather than get upset about how they say it. There are times I’m less successful in that approach than others, but most of the time I feel like I’m able to see the forest through the trees in terms of the point someone is trying to make. It’s why I don’t feel the need to call writers hacks when they make an argument that I don’t agree with or call other writers who happen to think similarly those people’s “minions”.

    In the case of the article linked above, there were a few things that Abbott said that are his perceptions about Kobe. I don’t agree with those perceptions but that’s not what I’m writing about so I didn’t quote them nor did I feel the need to address them. Instead, I focused on the overall tenor — and what I might add, the point — of his post: will leadership be an issue. It’s funny because everyone chose to focus on the Henry, but not the part I cited *nor* the exchange I had with DJ Foster where he asked a question about the leadership dynamic (which, fyi, was the reason I decided I’d write about this anyway).

    But hey, let’s turn a perfectly reasonable article that I tried to put forward into an indictment of my “tone deafness”, my integrity as someone who runs this site, or any other thing someone wants to say about me (negative or positive). Because, yeah, that’s exactly why I pour time into this site everyday. To have the comment section turn into a cluster**** of back and forths about me and/or a guy who happened to raise a point that pretty much everyone on this board actually agrees with: that leadership likely won’t be a problem.

  65. Robert,

    Fair points. I would suggest that the topics of “leadership” and “chemistry” on a team that has not practiced together yet are a bit premature. Media guys are focusing on them because, well, it’s the Lakers and it’s Kobe.

    My take is if the team starts out 7-7 while Kobe puts up a string of 6/21 shooting nights, then, sure, let’s look at it, and let’s criticize Kobe. People talking a lot about it NOW, like Abbott, are IMO perhaps doing so due to their own feelings about the team and about Konbe–or to get page hits.

  66. Darius… just great great stuff you got here.

    Abbot is a tool. he is just after the hits to his article. And Simmons, is a Kobe hater for as long as I can remember.

    I read that article on the “good cop, bad cop”, and I say, it is an old thought. Kobe has always with different leadership dynamics and has been successful.

    i have no iota of doubt that Kobe-Nash-Dwight-Pau dynamics will work out, and we will raise #17 come June.

    Go Lakers!!! Go Kobe!!!

  67. The fact that I don’t take every criticism (some fair, some not as much) as serious as the next guy means I’m tone deaf

    Well, Darius, like I said, and as you see here, you are in the minority on this issue. The bias argument cuts both ways: people who I have seen defend Abbott are generally either people who don’t like the Lakers or people who have a personal connection to him. So you might want to look at the possibility that rather than several other people, as well as the numerous people who have complained at Abbott’s blog, being overly sensitive, that you are the one missing the boat on Abbott here.

    As to the piece itself, I said the other time it was linked, it is better than what he usually writes about Kobe. But that is a very low bar.

  68. rr,
    As if being in the minority on a subject makes someone wrong all the time. Careful, I’m not sure *that’s* the argument you want to lead with.

    Ultimately, though, what people think about Henry doesn’t really concern me. If it did, I’d jump into the comments every time someone said something bad about him. Today, I jumped in because someone essentially told me that I’m a shill and some sort of sell out that has some sort of ulterior motive for linking to him. Which, of course, I take offense to.

  69. People talk about Kobe and the criticism geared toward him like he’s supposed to be victimized. Stars get criticized all the time; players like LeBron, Dirk, and even Durant all are or have been criticized before; their personalities included, and the limits of their games exposed. The opinion that the criticism is unfair doesn’t matter because that kind of close-mindedness gets you nowhere in terms of discussion.

    I personally found the good cop/bad cop analogy to be a fit conception.

    Kobe has an unmatchable competitive drive, yet he also has an interesting personality that sometimes does not bode well within a team concept; said in a different way, his game and talent is in a way too outstanding for his own good. His personality, as reported, is somewhat intense, and he is known to berate teammates when they don’t match up to his standards. Yet, Kobe is still recognized as a leader because his work ethic and desire to win lead by example–he knows how to and wants to win. He sometimes doesn’t see that same desire from his teammates, however. And the positive attributes of his personality can ironically pose a negative threat on his teammates when they don’t produce.

    One thing is for sure, there’s no denying Kobe’s aforementioned will to win, and the fact he knows how to win, and directs a game with his will on the court.

    Steve Nash is a positive team player; one that leads by extracting the talent around him. He makes the players around him better. He does it with his passing, his encouragement, his natural passion.

    Nash is a team guy.

    However, the aspect of positive encouragement is not the sure-thing solution when it comes to elevating the players around you to reaching the goal of winning a championship…You need a guy like Kobe to kick a guy in the balls once in a while if he’s not at near-Kobe levels of intensity. Which is, in my opinion, what it takes to win a ‘ship. We need some “nasty” to get to the promise-land.

  70. the thing that is stupid is that it was Kobe who first mentioned the “good cop, bad cop” idea.

    my problem with Abbott’s story is that he made Kobe into an angry troll who does nothing but berate his teammates and kills their children(something more like MJ’s personality), and that Nash is a cuddly ball of fluff that makes his teammates feel like living again.

    this is good for the story, but it’s just a gross distortion of reality. Kobe is a prickly jerk, but he’s also a supporter of any teammate who makes a real effort. and he does pass. who did D. Fish get the ball from for many of his greatest moments? Kobe.

    basically, what i don’t like about Abbott is that he just doesn’t really tell the truth. if criticizing others is how one makes their money, that’s fine. i understand.

    i like to criticize LBJ amd Wade sometimes. i’m a Lakers fan. we all know that mr Abbott is a Blazer fan. we don’t expect him to like Kobe. Kobe has ruined his world several times now. i can’t say that i want to give any hits(the lifeblood of a internet writer) to a guy who has nade his profession the trashing of my team’s main player.

    it’s just basketball, though. whatever…

  71. When it comes to the idea of managing role players beneath this two-headed leadership, is the perfect dynamic of Kobe’s ‘conditional love’ and Nash’s ‘unconditional love’ what it boils down to? Kobe is the well-intentioned father who’s expectations you could never meet, and Nash is the caring mother who supports you at every step. Slanted perceptions or not, the idea is very real in my opinion.

  72. Jesse,
    Well said.

    Darius et al,
    Keep up the exceptional work.

    As far as Abbott’s writing: with ANY writer, a smart reader will pay attention to their track record, determine the general bias/slant, and use that as a filter. The same thing applies to announcers, analysts, etc.

  73. Abbott may just be a closet Lakers fan. That may explain his obsession with Kobe.

    Mike Brown may have to help with meshing these personalities. He should take a trip to Montana and get some ying and inscents from Phil. It could only help, right.

  74. As the one who started the thread, let me close out by saying that my issue was with the introduction to the Abbott article as a “very good post”.

    My humble contention is that it wasn’t a good post because the writer had nothing new to say, ignored relevant data and found yet another way to inject vitriol. I actually skipped the article when it came out, but was intrigued by Darius’ endorsement of the post.

    That being said, Darius is absolutely entitled to not feel that way. And this is his blog – and I thank him for running a fantastic ship.

    Peace!

  75. On an entirely different note, I’d love to hear everyone’s thoughts on the Kareem statue thing.

    Basically, is it:
    a. Right on time, or
    b. Way overdue?

    I’m with Skip Bayless and SAS on this one – it’s criminal that Oscar De La Hoya got one before KAJ, who, purely from a statistical point of view, is the greatest basketball player ever (yeah, I went there!)

  76. Kareem statue–Way overdue. In town to catch the dub show, I spent a Sunday afternoon wandering around the main Staples entrance puzzled at the fact one of the greatest centers of all time had been slighted once again. Anyway, about time… Now get rid of that De La Hoya statue (by the way) and show Cap some respect.

  77. any_one_mouse,
    Since things like statues are often political, as well as representations of length of service at a very high level for an organization or city, it shouldn’t be too much of a surprise that KAJ lagged behind others.

    Like Frank Sinatra, KAJ did it his way – not the way the media members wanted him to. He also was substance, instead of flash – although the Sky Hook is still the prettiest shot in basketball. When you tick off the media and simply go about your job you are not going to get a lot of notice.

  78. Abbott rubs me the wrong way because he PRETENDS. I don’t disagree that he may be smart (although that depends on how you define smart; I define smart as being smarter than me, and by that definition he fails; yes I am like that) and I do see that he has valid points every now and then, including his views towards Kobe.

    I still read Abbott’s pieces because he still has bits and pieces that are useful once you get past his hypocrisy/lack of integrity. Oh yeah, INTEGRITY. You simply can’t claim to be objective yet be so obviously personal when dealing with things Kobe. I enjoy Simmons, I even bought his book despite him being a Celtic fan. Or, maybe I bought it BECAUSE he made no pretense about it.

    I think you could possibly think that Abbott simply has a very strong opinion about the way basketball should be played and how performance should be measured. Then you could certainly see how Kobe can be the very being that goes against such beliefs. Not only that, he does so while being SUCCESSFUL, and worse, he does so with style that makes people question the way basketball should be played and how it should be measured.

    Then Kobe just ‘happens to be’ the focal point for many of his articles because he ‘happens to be’ the icon of anti-Abbott-basketball, all without Abbott having a personal vendetta against Kobe.

    I can buy that. But when it happens over and over and over (partially because Kobe happens to be around forever and because he has been successful half the time at least) I don’t think anyone could prevent it from being personal, or at least having it come across as such, especially if you don’t consciously watch for it and play the devil’s advocate from time to time complimenting Kobe in an effort to stay even-handed.

  79. Anyone who thinks Kobe Bryant isn’t a good leader should take a look at how Kobe interacted with Bynum last year. Kobe never once criticized Andrew in public and excused Bynum’s petulance as “growing pains”. Kobe knew that Andrew was vital to team success and as such tried to nurture him. Deep down, I believe that Kobe viewed Bynum’s lack of intensity and consistency as a detriment to the team and may have expressed that to the Busses and to Mitch. But he supported Drew as well as he could in public.

  80. I feel sure that Dwight’s lighter way of acting will be far less detrimental then AB sitting by his self on the bench “working in his zen”.

    Happy he is gone and feel Nash and Jamenson will be positive forces. Also feel Kobe has matured and watching his excepting he is not the number one guy in England proves it.

    Only concern left is Brown who seem to anger players with over practicing while seemingly lacking players respect. Hope new coaches will save him because IMO he is the weak link.

  81. Just came to say that Henry Abbott is terrible whenever something comes up in regards to Kobe Bryant. He’ll find a way to get in a jab at Bryant whenever he gets the opportunity. He could be Kelly Dwyer’s long lost brother.

  82. @78, Craig W:

    But does (did) the media have a say in when KAJ got his statue? I thought that was up to the Busses.
    I know Cap wasn’t the easiest person to get along with, but I would think for something like this, the only thing that matters is on-court production.

  83. Kobe should retire immediately,90 percent of NBA talk will vanish.ESPN will go bankrupt.

  84. rr,
    I wonder why Darius and I are in the minority re Abbott?? Hmmmmmm. Could it be because there are fanatical Kobe fans residing here? Hmmmm. Again… I don’t exactly know what people disagree with Abbott on. Maybe because nobody says it. People don’t think Kobe isn’t statistically a top crunch time player because he takes tough shots? People don’t think he dominates the ball like few others have? People don’t think he demeans his teammates on the floor? What is it?

  85. rr,
    As if being in the minority on a subject makes someone wrong all the time. Careful, I’m not sure *that’s* the argument you want to lead with

    That wasn’t the argument. Like Aaron, you need to look in the mirror on this one.

  86. rr,
    This will be the last thing I say on this: I’ve looked in the mirror plenty. And I’m able to still find value in opinions that I don’t always agree with or are said in a tone that many find upsetting. If you or anyone else can’t do the same or are now too angry to do so, that’s really not my problem.

  87. Darius,

    With all due respect, look to your readers. The greater truth (rather than one’s personal truth) isn’t hard to see. I don’t think what is at issue is finding value in opinions that one does not agree with. It’s giving a platform to a voice with a clear agenda of misinformation. Abbott doesn’t deserve it; and we, your community of readers, should not give it to him.

    Thanks for listening.

  88. We should just go ahead and burn books. Abbott is exactly what the people who hate him should be reading. Ironic.

  89. It’s understood that ESPN’s Robot-Abbott is no idol on this forum; but regardless of the writer’s bias, if you look at the big picture, Abbott makes a decent point in this article. Though I still don’t get why there’s so many people here hating on Darius for posting an Abbott article; it’s not like he jumped on board with Abbott on the ‘Kobe debate’. This post (OP I mean) I don’t think was meant to nitpick at Kobe’s real or imagined personality flaws. Rather, it was meant to explore the new dynamics of our team’s leadership and raise discussion of the idea Abbott presented. Though, if someone takes offense (understood, in Kobe’s honor) in such a manner then it makes some of you look uber-sensitive.