It turns out Kobe's a prick in person, too!
When I was a sophomore on my high school's varsity hoops team, our best player was a senior shooting guard. This guy was a world class prick. He was eventually headed to Dartmouth and he already possessed every sterotypical Ivy League quality that Hollywood loves to lampoon (this guy would have fit in perfectly at that "Thank you sir may I have another?" upper class frat in Animal House).
Some how he got the idea that it was his job to "mentor" me. So at every break in game action he come over to me and use stage gestures to describe where he wanted me to go or what he wanted me to do. I found it embarrassing. He probably thought he was just "being a leader". He wasn't. Leaders are persuaders, not dictators. That's why he was no leader. He was just a prima donna that everyone on the team hated and no one would every want in their foxhole.
I wonder if Kobe's teammates feel the same way about him. On television he comes across as an immature, self-centered jerk, and according to Curt Schilling, he's that way in person too.
Schilling got an upclose look at Kobe's act sitting behind the Lakers bench for Game 2 of the NBA Finals. On his blog, 38 Pitches, he offered a surprisingly candid description of what he saw. Here it is (Sidebar: I read some other posts on Schilling's blog. Interesting stuff, but I thought I had a "Bill Simmons" problem! Its nothing compared to Schilling's long winded posts. The punctuation of the following passage has not been altered. That's one Schilling paragraph!):
"Kobe. This one stunned me a little bit. Who doesn’t know Kobe Bryant right? I only know what I have heard, starting awhile back with the entire Shaq debacle. I don’t really have an opinion one way or the other on or about him other than to know that people feel he might be one of the 4-5 greatest players to ever lace it up. What I do know is what I got to see up close and hear, was unexpected. From the first tip until about 4 minutes left in the game I saw and heard this guy bitch at his teammates. Every TO he came to the bench pissed, and a few of them he went to other guys and yelled about something they weren’t doing, or something they did wrong. No dialog about “hey let’s go, let’s get after it” or whatever. He spent the better part of 3.5 quarters pissed off and ranting at the non-execution or lack of, of his team. Then when they made what almost was a historic run in the 4th, during a TO, he got down on the floor and basically said ‘Let’s f’ing go, right now, right here” or something to that affect. I am not making this observation in a good or bad way, I have no idea how the guys in the NBA play or do things like this, but I thought it was a fascinating bit of insight for me to watch someone in another sport who is in the position of a team leader and how he interacted with his team and teammates. Watching the other 11 guys, every time out it was high fives and “Hey nice work, let’s get after it” or something to that affect. He walked off the floor, obligatory skin contact on the high five, and sat on the bench stone faced or pissed off, the whole game. Just weird to see another sport and how it all works. I would assume that’s his style and how he plays and what works for him because when I saw the leader board for scoring in the post season his name sat up top at 31+ a game, can’t argue with that. But as a fan I was watching the whole thing, Kobe, his teammates and then the after effects of conversations. He’d yell at someone, make a point, or send a message, turn and walk away, and more than once the person on the other end would roll eyes or give a ‘whatever dude’ look."