I tried to remain calm as the following email indicates:
I just read your Kobe article. As a Lakers fan since 1984, I've gotten used to the beating Kobe receives in the media. I expected your article to be just as battering though I was slightly surprised. However, I do disagree in regards to the USA team being better without Kobe. Kobe's job on the Lakers was to score because quite frankly there weren't a whole lot of options to whom to pass the ball. I think Kobe would have fit in brilliantly with Team USA. Take, for instance, his play in all-star games. I know those are exhibitions meant more for highlights than anything. But if Kobe is the selfish player the media world has portrayed him to be, wouldn't he take the opportunity to 'show his shine' at the All-Star game in front of the world, against the best? Instead, he gives the ball up, even plays second fiddle quite often. Not to mention, during the Lakers glory years a few back, Kobe led his team in assists 4 out of 6 years (at work so I can't get the exact numbers). I'm just sayin' ;)
Surprisingly, Mr. Windhorst responded. Granted, he addressed none of my points or assertions. Rather he threw out some unsupported opinions as seen below (also note his tone when mentioning Kobe's number, hateration begins to show it's ugly face):
Xavier, It is questionable. Kobe is probably the best player in the game right now, but I don't think he's the best teammate. I don't care what anyone says and revises history, he forced Shaq out and it cost him and the Lakers a title(s). This team is about teammates. Now, if Argentina holds them to 80 points because no one can make a challenged jumper, then Kobe will get the last laugh. But so far everyone on the team is praising LeBron and Wade and you never hear that about No. 8/24. Thanks, Brian
So my response was thorough as you faithful readers can well imagine:
Brian, I've often asked folks who state that he forced Shaq out to provide some evidence other than personal opinion. You're stating an opinion as fact. As in any good sports debate, you are welcome to your opinion but it should be backed up with more than just your personal feelings. FACT: Shaq was offered a contract in February that was in the neighborhood of 20 million per year. Shaq rejected. That summer, after a season of saying Buss didn't want to pay him, Shaq signed with Miami for. . . .20 million + per year....what did Kobe have to do with that? If you offer a man a contract and he rejects, what choices do you have as an owner? Better question if Shaq had stayed and Kobe had left, do you think the media would have been quick to say Shaq forced Kobe out? Fact: SHAQ states in a recent interview, which is can be found at http://www.nba.com/features/shaq_060821.html?loc=headline, Shaquille admits some ill-advised approaches...not only to Kobe, but Penny Hardaway as well. Sorry, I'm not sure which history revision you're referring to, but the fact remains there is no solid proof that Kobe forced Buss' or Kupchak's hand in trading O'Neal, simply media propagated rumor. P.S. I will probably put this email thread on my Lakers blog. If you don't want your name associated with it, let me know and I'll leave it out. And one other thing, then I promise I'll leave you alone ;), I don't think Kobe is sitting at home hoping Team USA loses. There's no last laugh for Kobe if they lose, there's country wide embarassment again. Further, you won't hear about #24 because he's not playing. When do you ever hear about a missing player when times are good?
Brian's response (no longer Mr. Windhorst after reading his final cop out) was nothing short of disappointing....
Xavier, I've gone round and round with Lakers fans about this and I don't want to rehash everything. Kobe is a great player, as I said, maybe the best. Kobe is not a great teammate. That is the point.
These are the types of folks running our media machine......