The following is a revised version of a 5/08 post. It is updated and timely!
Kobe Bryant deserves the MVP award from the National Basketball Association for numerous culturist reasons. He also deserves the second annual Culturist of the Year Award. Before writing on this, however, I must confess that I am a HUGE and PROUD lifelong fan of the Los Angeles Lakers. Culturism does not believe in objectivity. Be warned that I have long loved, rooted for and admired Kobe Bryant. That said, there are legitimate and important culturist reasons to celebrate Kobe's being awarded the MVP award.
Kobe's work ethic provides a culturist standard towards which we should all aspire. Kobe answers nearly all questions on bad nights, "We have to work harder, we have failings that we need to address and we have not reached our potential or personal goals." More impressively, Kobe answers questions on winning nights the same way. Kobe's poor personal relationship with Shaq O'Neil led to the dismembering of their three-time championship team. They were winning, but Kobe did not respect Shaq's poor work ethic. If more people consistently valued the work ethic, as Kobe does, we'd be a better nation.
During last year's Olympics, do you remember Kobe - Gate? During the Olympics Kobe repeatedly said what an honor it would be for him to bring the gold to America and how proud he was to represent his country. The media was incensed. An incredulous Chris Collinsworth of NBC interrogated Kobe about this asking "Where does the patriotism come from indie of you? Historically, what is it?" Kobe gave an excellent culturist answer, "It's just our country, it's . . . we believe is the greatest country in the world. It has given us so many great opportunities." After Kobe reiterated that "our country is the best" Collinsworth asked, "Is that the cool thing to do? . . . it seems sort of like a day gone by. Kobe said, "No, it's a cool thing for me to say. I feel great honor about, and I'm not ashamed to say it. I mean, this is a tremendous honor."
People have criticized Kobe for being egotistical. This comes from an expectation of entertainment and clown like behavior in celebrities. Kobe smiles often, but he does not show up at parties and provide scandal. His public persona and answers to questions reflect seriousness. He has been accused of not helping his teammates and hogging the ball. His decisions all have to do with winning. Would you call Michelangelo conceited for not making small talk with the Pope? Was it selfish of Einstein to not teach much? Kobe has had harsh words and criticized teammates who do not work. This reflects his taking his craft seriously. Those who want a populist should not watch competitive endeavors. To call Kobe ungenerous is to misunderstand greatness.
The League has ignored Kobe due to the rape charges in Colorado. Kobe deserves some blame for this. But, our sick society deserves more. The woman who accused him had semen from several men in her underwear when the police came. She sought fame or infamy and did not mind the difference. We know where she got these values. Kobe was found not guilty. Since that time, four years ago, Kobe has been - as far as we can tell - totally dedicated to his wife, children and craft. How many NBA players do interviews with their children on their laps? Where Kobe finishes a game and his interview, in the exit tunnel he kisses his two daughters on the way to the locker room. Very few people daily display the devotion and dedication that Kobe displays. I am glad the league cares about morality. Yet they are long overdue in recognizing that Kobe has long been a role model for hard work, dedication, respect and good morals.
Kobe received a lot of flack for his anger at management a couple years ago. And he made flack about being disloyal to his Lakers. But Kobe has only a limited number of years to dominate and he is competitive. Management was surrounding him with players who were not of his caliber. Kobe is not a socialist. His dedication is to excellence and winning. His pronouncements likely led to management getting off their duffs and trading aggressively. His complaining reflected real reasons for worry and showed leadership that has likely made our playoff success possible. Complacency in the face of mediocrity is not a culturist virtue.
Kobe Bryant deserves the MVP award. All who honor achievement, dedication, the work ethic, excellence, patriotism and competitiveness should congratulate him. Sports provide one of the only mass media areas where we actually still have the joy of seeing people dedicated to craft. Basketball has teams that are small enough to see the results of seriousness in individuals pay off. Actor's success comes via agents, lucky breaks and despite themselves. Interviews with important people do not discuss the work they put in to get that way. When we celebrate Kobe Bryant we celebrate the ethics that have made America a top competitor on the world stage. Kobe Bryant has earned the MVP award. He deserves a great culturist congratulation from all of America. Congratulations to Kobe Bryant, the 2007 - 2008 NBA MVP! I know you are sentimental about your Olympic Gold. Now bring in another Lakers' O' Brian trophy.