Letters: Even as he retires, Kobe Bryant remains a polarizing figure
Kobe Bryant’s remarkable career with the Lakers and U.S. Olympic team was a rare blend of brilliant basketball talent, unswerving dedication, relentless hard work, passionate preparation, and a coldblooded killer instinct. In other words, a surefire, unanimous Hall of Fame icon. Thanks for the spine-tingling thrills and unforgettable memories, Kobe. There will never be another like you. So long, Black Mamba.
I had the pleasure of watching Kobe Bryant play for my beloved Lakers and bring us five championships. I also had the pleasure of running into Kobe at a local grocery store this past year. He walked in alone and left with about 50 people following him. He was gracious to everyone. He talked about the Lakers with pride and passion. He answered difficult questions. He smiled when someone cracked a joke at his expense. Thank you, Kobe. You are definitely irreplaceable.
So I’m in a bar on Sunday afternoon and I get a notification from L.A. Times that this is Kobe Bryant’s last season and my first thought was that I wished I’d gotten it three years ago.
Shouldn’t you have published Kobe Bryant’s retirement in the Religion section? I thought everyone was praying for it.
When Kobe announced his retirement, I thought we’d see the same grace and humility on the court that he showed in his news conference. Not so. Instead, it appears Byron Scott has tossed aside his coaching clipboard and is content to let Kobe put on a shooting exhibition, night after night, most of it featuring errant three-pointers.
If this is the Lakers’ idea of letting Kobe take a victory lap, let’s be clear: Victories have nothing whatsoever to do with this.
No coach would play a quarterback if they were two for 20 passing. No manager would leave their pitcher in if he threw two strikes out of 20 pitches. One can only assume that Byron Scott is under orders to play Kobe Bryant, much to the detriment of the other Lakers players and Lakers fans. His league-worst shooting (and defense) has cost his team two wins in the last week. If Byron has to play Kobe he can play him the first five minutes of each half and be done with it. Kobe’s skills have diminished to the point that the first-ballot Hall of Famer is now the worst player in the league.
It’s just not fair to the other Lakers to play their hearts out only to be undermined by Kobe’s horrific loss of skills. Stop the madness.
Kobe Bryant’s brilliant legacy would shine more brightly, but for the decision to offer him $48 million two years ago. Kobe understandably took the money, and sank the team’s fortunes. Praise for Kobe’s glorious career is properly qualified by the financial and practical anchor he’s recently represented. Jim Buss deserves the blame.
Kobe Bryant has always been adamant that he would never have a farewell tour. To avoid that all he had to do was say nothing about retiring or simply hang them up right now. Instead he announces he will be retiring after this season, and of course this assures him of a lovefest at every home game and that dreaded tour where he will be fawned over at every stop and will be able to act all embarrassed and humble.
A phony right up until the last airball.
I think Kobe is trying to give Lakers fans one last gift this year by not retiring now. He will shoot them out of most games and allow them to keep the first-round draft pick they owe the 76ers.
I would rather watch Kobe miss a shot than watch Sacre make one.
It must be terribly embarrassing and humiliating for an L.A. basketball player so much in the news recently to see his attempts go every which way but into the basket, sometimes resulting in airballs.
Kobe trying to make a three-pointer? No, I’m referring to DeAndre Jordan’s continuing pathetic attempts to make a free throw.
“Hire Clay Helton,” says Bill Plaschke, and he’s hired? What’s the over/under on the date Plaschke starts ragging on him?
Be careful what you wish for. Clay Helton’s first three games are Stanford, a bowl game — potentially the Rose Bowl against a highly rated Big Ten team — and the 2016 opener against likely preseason No. 1 Alabama. This hire will be hotly debated and we’ll know soon enough whether the new USC coach has feats, or feet, of Clay.
The appointment of Clay Helton at USC hopefully means a new era for this storied football program that reconfirms that intercollegiate athletics at USC is just as much about academic scholarship and good behavior as it is about success on the playing field.
Titles and championships mean little unless athletic programs are led by individuals who believe in the development of the whole person. It is reassuring to know that a person of integrity and decency has taken over the reins of this program, and hopefully Coach Helton will set an example nationally for all athletic leaders to follow.
So Pat Haden says Helton did not get the job because he beat UCLA. Really? This one is simple. A 5-2 record with a victory over UCLA gets him the job. A 4-3 mark with losses to UCLA and Notre Dame does not. Haden continues to destroy what smidgen of credibility he has left, and keeps throwing out more rim-clankers than the now-retiring Lakers egomaniac. Maybe Haden should consider a similar move.
A hearty eight-clap for Jim Mora and his full restoration of all the traditions of UCLA football:
—Starting every season hot, then becoming just another program once classes begin.
—Always remaining a safe distance from winning the conference title.
—Claiming second place in a city of two teams once the NCAA no longer does his team’s dirty work.
I hope the Bruins enjoyed their 15 minutes of relative fame, having still never been in a major bowl that was broadcast in high definition.
So freshman UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen said the USC defense did “absolutely nothing” to confuse him. Nothing but two interceptions, a fumble that led to a USC touchdown, overthrown and underthrown hurried passes and rhythm way off. To the collegiate football world, Rosen very much looked like a confused freshman quarterback.
Rancho Palos Verdes
It is apropos to recall the famous quote from a since-departed UCLA football coach who’s now a talking head on TV:
“The football monopoly in Los Angeles is over.”
Howard P. Cohen
If UCLA and USC fans were actually honest and objective (they aren’t), they would agree that both teams stunk up the Coliseum last Saturday. The only teams worthy of representing the Pac-12 in this year’s championship game are Stanford and Oregon.
Congrats, Bruins. You can win a big game without a culture of gourmet food, private jets, Taj Mahal practice facilities, and $1,500 hotel suites for coaches.
Coach Alford, do your team a favor and celebrate at McDonald’s. Norman Dale from “Hoosiers” would be proud of you!
Wow! Steve Alford complains about having to fly in coach. Seems like he makes enough money (more than $2.7 million in 2014) to pay for that upgrade himself.
Not bowled over
Instead of rewarding 5-7 teams with a bowl game, why not dispense with those lower-tier games altogether? They dilute the bowl season, the teams are undeserving, the players risk injury and virtually no one attends them — which is why “that sports channel” that televises them never shows a wide shot of the stands.
I did not want Bill Dwyre, my former boss during his years as sports editor, of The Times, to slip into retirement without trying to explain publicly and succinctly the important role he played after taking over the department in the early 1980s.
At the time, it was a department demoralized under a previous leadership and a department with its own refugee flow — talented writers and editors leaving in startling numbers for other papers and positions. Bill stemmed that flow and rebuilt morale through positive communication. He fought for space and budget. He supported his writers’ battle against restrictive access. He covered what needed to be covered no matter where that was, and I do not hesitate to say that the resulting sports section was better than any section at any time ever.
The late Jim Healy referred to him on his daily radio show as Journalist Bill, and he was just that: a man in love with journalism and the production of a quality product on a daily basis. It was a privilege to work for him, and I am quite sure I am not alone in feeling that way.
Leave it to the Rankman to end his reign with references to Dylan Thomas, Bob Dylan, Dorothy, Ensign Parker, Little Richard, Jim McKay and Conrad Ukropina! Now Chris can join his more famous brother Andy in Zihuatanejo and enjoy his retirement!
Kevin H. Park
The Lakers lose to the previously 0-18 76ers. UCLA thoroughly stuns No. 1 Kentucky. In this topsy-turvy sports season, I can now feel better going all in, betting the farm that we will get at least one NFL team by next season.
Mark J. Featherstone
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