8 Times Kobe Bryant Didn’t Give a F–k
Sports superstars are image conscious almost to a fault, and basketball players perhaps most of all, because they’re completely exposed on the court. Unlike other athletes, they can’t hide behind pads or helmets.
So they carefully cultivate a public persona, create a character for the cameras. This can take the form of a scrubbed spotlessness, a kind of high-sheen Dudley Do-Righteousness (Michael Jordan, Steph Curry), or it can angle toward darker anti-heroism (Allen Iverson, Russell Westbrook), but either way it is manifestly – and sometimes exhaustively – conscious.
These labels are subject to change, especially once a player’s career is over, but we’ve rarely seen a star’s image evolve as steadily and surely as Kobe Bryant’s, who over the course of his 20-year career went from an earnest, middle-of-the-road go-getter to a dire, driven destroyer of worlds. At this point, one of Kobe’s most appealing qualities is that he simply doesn’t give a fuck, but the truth is, he never has, and it’s always been this way, no matter how it’s been packaged.
Don’t believe me? Here are 8 examples of Kobe in his DGAF prime.
1. The Draft Diss That Defined Him
Let’s try to connect the dots. In the summer of 1996, the Lakers’ main priority was signing Shaquille O’Neal. In order to do this, they had to clear salary, and that meant moving their starting center, Vlade Divac. Coming off a .500 season and boasting sweet-shooting Glen Rice and plenty of potential, the Charlotte Hornets needed to shore up a frontcourt rotation that had 19-year vet Robert Parish playing the second-most minutes at center. A deal was struck and the Hornets would receive Divac in exchange for whatever player the Lakers asked the Hornets to take with the 13th pick in the draft. That player was Kobe Bryant.
Whatever machinations went on before the draft, and regardless of the questions about drafting a guard straight out of high school when only big men (and only a handful) had made the leap before, the immediate fallout from the trade was good for both teams. The Lakers got Shaq and a good prospect while the Hornets went 54-28 the next season and general manager Bob Bass was named Executive of the Year.
But just try telling that to Kobe.
On this day 18yrs ago the hornets told me right after they drafted me that they had no use for me and were going to trade me #thanku #lakers
— Kobe Bryant (@kobebryant) July 1, 2014
Whether Bryant’s agent Arn Tellem actually strong-armed Kobe to Los Angeles or whether this was simply a matter of one team taking the safer, more assured route, there’s simply no evidence beyond Kobe’s insistence on it – even 20 years later – that Charlotte actively dismissed him because they doubted him. This is the fuel, though, the “Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team” that begins his long, esteemed career of not giving a fuck.
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- Criminal Injustice