Kobe Bryant will not be denied his fourth NBA championship. I'm sick and tired of hearing that the Boston Celtics are a team of destiny. They aren't.
I'm also sick and tired of hearing how Bryant doesn't deserve this title because of his actions last summer, when he demanded to be traded on the Stephen A. Smith show on ESPN Radio.
He deserves it more than ever because of that.
I'm not saying what Bryant did last summer to the Lakers organization was right. I'm not saying that demanding a trade and throwing his entire team under the bus was the best move. What I'm saying is that Kobe has turned it all around and has now become well appreciated by the Lakers. They all know that Bryant is sorry for his statements during that time, and that he feels completely different now.
Last summer a frustrated Bryant looked up and down the Lakers roster and saw what everyone did. No talent. At 29 years old he knew his prime is running out quickly, and that the Lakers didn't have the pieces around him to win a title. He went about it the wrong way but he put the Lakers in a position where something had to be done.
After a failed trade for NBA Finals counterpart Kevin Garnett the Lakers appeared to be in the same boat as they had been for the last few seasons. The season started without any major roster changes. Then something unbelievable happened. Andrew Bynum became a beast and Derek Fisher and Lamar Odom revived their careers while they helped Los Angeles compete for the Western Conference regular season crown.
Then it appeared Kobe's luck turned bad once again. Bynum went down with a knee injury and Los Angeles appeared to be another pretender out West with just one threat and lots of role players, but a deal a few weeks later had everyone amazed. The Lakers trade for Pau Gasol is now referred to as a "steal" by league owners, and man was it ever.
That trade helped Los Angeles win the West and the momentum of Bryant's MVP season and Gasol's arrival has Los Angeles in the NBA Finals.
Somehow Bryant is called "selfish". I'm not sure how this can be. The critics say that Bryant cannot be talked about in the same breath as Michael Jordan because unlike Kobe, Jordan got his teammates involved and made them better. To those guys I ask some simple questions.
What about Andrew Bynum's sudden development into a great post scorer? Sasha Vujacic is all of a sudden a legitimate scorer on the perimeter. Jordan Farmar is developing into a starting point guard. All these guys can give a lot of the credit for this to Bryant because he gets them all involved in the game.
Now let's dwell even farther into Bryant's past.
In the summer of 2004 Bryant is credited with breaking up the Lakers, but after reading Phil Jackson's book The Last Season I know that isn't what happened. Karl Malone was done, too old to play at a high level at that point. Gary Payton's attitude was killing morale. Shaquille O' Neal wanted the ball because his prime was coming to an abrupt end. Bryant wanted to score and show the world it wasn't just Shaq's team, that he could be the star. And Phil Jackson, well he was just tired of it and decided to retire. Detroit capitalized, beating the Lakers in five games for the NBA titles.
Even if he did temporarily destroy the franchise, Bryant has pulled Los Angeles all the way back together and has led them four wins away from the top of the world.
Want to know why he won't be denied? Look in the man's eyes when you watch him do an interview. Look at the determination, the hunger to get back to the top. Kevin Garnett has that same hunger, but as sad as it is to read for Boston Celtics fan I have to say this bit of truth. Garnett is one of the most talented players in the league, but Bryant can take over a game at any moment and is one of the most talented players to ever pick up a basketball.
He might just be the best ever.
But please nobody tell that MJ guy.