Kobe: Good riddance

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I am no Laker fan. Never have been and never will be. GO Celtics!

That said, good riddance, Kobe Bryant. You are not deserving of all the platitudes heaped upon you this past season. You do not even belong in the discussion of who is the greatest Laker of all time.

For 20 years, you played for one organization and you embarrassed it and destroyed it while being part of five championship teams. In 20 years, only two teammates come to mind consistently who say they liked you, Pau Gasol and Metta World Peace.

Yes, you are a “warrior” with an incredible competitive streak. So what. So are scores of other professional athletes. You just happen to be more physically gifted than them.

Jerry West and Elgin Baylor recognized when their talent began to drop off and accepted more complimentary roles with the team in order to keep them in Championship contention. Not you. You just kept hoisting up brick after brick, not only refusing to admit your skills were diminishing, but also holding back teammates from developing into better ballplayers.

Kareem reluctantly allowed other teams to honor him in his final season. He had too much class to think the NBA owed him a farewell tour. Not you. You really believe you were owed all that was feted on you this past season.

You have crippled the franchise that made you very wealthy by playing three too many seasons. You left them in ruins even after they stood by you and rewarded you for years when accused of rape and possibly paying off your victim. You see, as a Laker hater, this all smacks of entitlement, not endearment.

I cried when I heard the news report of Magic Johnson was retiring because of contracting HIV. I still hated the Lakers, but I could see in Magic the true greatness of a player who played the game in an unselfish manner while helping develop the talent around him while giving back to his adopted community.

I was actually happy it was the Lakers, and no other team, who ended Boston’s run of never losing an NBA finals on their home court. It just seemed fitting given the way L.A. played the game as a team. You couldn’t handle a star of equal talent and ran off Shaq, something that kept you from possibly being part of the greatest basketball dynasty ever. That’s okay, it left more money for you.

Your work ethic is unquestionable. Your prime years were as good as anyone who played the game. Your willingness to “be the man” and take the final shot was commendable.

Still, I say good riddance because despite all these attributes, you were never a fraction of the person of the likes of Elgin, Jerry, Kareem, James, or Magic. They are by far the greatest Lakers ever and in my eyes, you are not even in the discussion.