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Saturday, March 10, 2007

Defense of Kobe is Laughable

It was almost embarrassing last night to watch Sonny Hill on Daily News Live. He babbled on and on about how the public misunderstands Kobe Bryant as if that’s the reason we hate the guy. Hill actually pointed out a video clip in which Bryant said he’s from Philadelphia, as opposed to Lower Merion, as proof Bryant never disowned the city. The only thing more absurd was Hill’s defense of Bryant’s cheap shots on other players, both of which have led to suspensions, as a tough-guy Philly thing.

Hill sounded like a ridiculous old man defending his grandson.

Sadly, John Smallwood and Phil Jasner managed to make Hill just another dumb voice on a panel full of them. Smallwood suggested Bryant was disliked because his team defeated the Sixers in the Finals. Jasner, usually a voice of sanity, avoided the Kobe boot-licking only to scold Sixers fans bemoaning the teams winning ways as damaging to their Draft Lottery prospects.

Last time I checked most people from the city’s suburbs say they’re from Philadelphia unless they are talking to another person from the area. Stating an obvious reality doesn’t change the fact that Bryant tried very hard to claim he was not from Philly in the Finals against the Sixers, emphasizing that he had lived all over the place. And, by the way, the fact that the Lakers won that series has nothing to do with why he’s despised.

The guy comes off as a spoiled brat and a fraud. Forget that he turned his high school prom into a media event, or that as a high school kid he pompously announced, “I’ve decided to take my talents to the NBA.”

Bryant basically told the NBA that he wouldn’t go to certain teams. His team was allowed to acquire Shaquille O’Neal despite the fact that there’s no way he fit on their team under the salary cap, giving Bryant a couple titles, and then the kid pushed O’Neal out of town so he would be the unquestioned star on the Lakers. He cares more about stats, image, and saying the right thing than winning. He’s so coddled his equally ego-centric coach, Phil Jackson, is “sending film to the league” to show that Bryant’s punches of opponents were merely his natural follow-through on shots — an argument that makes Hill look intelligent. And there’s the matter of how rape charges against Bryant just sort of disappeared.

But he’s just misunderstood, right?


· Jasner has a point about the Sixers creating a winning atmosphere being more important than winning the lottery. But he goes too far with it, scolding fans concerned with the lottery while admitting Greg Oden and Kevin Durant are franchise players. Sorry, I’ll take a franchise center over the last playoff seed any day.
· Billy King announced last night that Mo Cheeks will be back as coach next season. Think we’ll get an article from Stephen A. Smith admitting he was dead wrong about Larry Brown’s inevitable hiring as coach? Nah — he’s too busy watching the Knicks.
· The Eagles may be the only team happy to find out that their best free agent is in the NFL drug program. The fact is that if they retain Donte' Stallworth, it will be because this revelation brought him back the way they like it . . . cheap.

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