An Open Letter to Kobe Bryant

November 24, 2015
Phil Maggitti

Dear Kobe,

Belated congratulations on being selected by ESPN as one of the
NBA’s top one hundred players for the 2015-16 season. At your age,
roughly 93 in basketball years, that’s no small
achievement—and quite the coincidence, too, as 93rd is where
ESPN ranked you among current NBA players, just ahead of Trevor Ariza
and just behind Luol Deng.

Congratulations also on being selected to Sports Illustrated’s first
all-brick-layers team for this season. As SI noted, “No player in
the shot-clock era has shot as poorly as Bryant is shooting on a
similar number of attempts per game.”

That’s what hitting 34 percent of 16 shots per game–and a mere 23
percent from distance—will get you (as of this mid-November
writing). It also helps if you have yet to hit 50 percent of your
shots in any game this season; you quite possibly lead the league in
air balls; and you’re launching eight threes per game, a career
high. Nevertheless, you said on the radio last week that “if
something changes” you’ll be back to torture us all again next

What exactly is it that might change? Your health? The downhill rush
of time? Last season was 28 games old before you starting
taking time off to rest. This season you lasted eight games before
needing time off. Moreover, you need a police escort to get to your
spots off the dribble; you’re generating little offense around the
basket; you’re slower than a throttled internet connection getting
back in transition; and you’re within bricking distance of setting
an all-time league record for misses.

All of which leads me to ask, why don’t you quit while you’re
behind? Why not take this year’s ESPN ranking, keep it in a memory
bouquet with last year’s ranking (40th) and the previous
year’s ranking (25th) and get your withered, broken down
[butt] out of Dodge? Your “performance” on the court is a pale
shadow of the shadow of your former self who averaged 27.6 points per
game only four seasons ago; and according to multiple sources around
the league, you are something of a [mean person] who doesn’t play
nicely with others.

Three years ago Ramon Sessions, who had been brought in to replace
Derek Fisher, turned down an offer to re-sign with the Lakers and
compete for a starting job. He signed instead with the freakin’
Bobcats, who were coming off the worst season in league history and
who wanted him to back up Kemba Walker. OK, so the Bobcats offered
Sessions a longer contact than the Lakers did; but according to ESPN,
“The Lakers were rattled by (Sessions’) departure and came to
believe that Kobe was the key.”

That belief was strengthened in the summer of 2014 when the NBA’s
top free agents turned down overtures from your team. LeBron, Carmelo,
and several players known by two names—Paul George, Chris Bosh, and
Kevin Love—all declined invitations for a play date in Los Angeles.
Was it because of your breath or had they noticed that Dwight Howard
was willing to leave $30 million in guaranteed money on the table the
summer before in order to play for Houston after one stinking season
as your “teammate.”

In truth, you would have been doing the Lakers a favor if you had quit
after last season. The money gushing from your bloated tick of a
contract might have been used to lure a good free agent or two,
especially if they didn’t have to share a locker room or a
basketball with you.

That would have been the decent thing to do, but it’s still not too
late for a magnanimous gesture. Put on one of your $4,000 suits, slide
behind the wheel of your Lamborghini, park in the handicapped space
nearest to Jim Buss’s office, catch him sleeping at his desk, and
tear up your contact. That’s right. Give ’em back the unused
portion of this year’s $25 million salary. You don’t need it, and
the longer you hang around chasing your trail, the more you look like
Willie Mays than Mariano Rivera.

Peace out,