2010 NBA Playoffs: Has Kobe Bryant Lost His Way?

I've always admired the abilities of Los Angeles shooting guard Kobe Bryant in much the same manner I have always marveled at the talents of deceased rap star Tupac Shakur.

Tupac was one of those rare people who was able to be different things at the same time. Tupac could be shallow or profound, thoughtful or reckless, and passionate or indifferent, just to name a few.

Bryant exudes some of those same qualities on and off the basketball court, as he can be excellent or exasperating, charismatic or secluded, and helpful or intolerant.

Both Bryant and Shakur were able to excel at their respective professions, but it is possible each was prevented from attaining true greatness due to an inability to conquer demons in their professional and personal lives.

No one can question the ability of Shakur to deliver heart-felt messages in his lyrics, as well as thought-provoking diatribes condemning the establishment system which many young black males have fallen victim to.

But there was another side to Shakur, and this one involved all the negative aspects of the hip-hop culture, such as the promotion of violence, disrespect towards women, and rampant drug use.

I guess you can truthfully say Shakur was defined by his many contradictions, and although there are some who would say Shakur is the greatest rapper to ever live, there is no finality in that statement because Shakur's life was cut short by the very contradictions he lived by.

Likewise, there are those who say Bryant may have already ascended to the status as the greatest talent the game has ever seen, and although his skill level suggests this is possible, Bryant's own contradictions as a player hold him back.

Bryant has made it no secret he would loved to be considered as one of basketball's all-time greats, and so far his career path has paralleled his desires, by winning multiple NBA Championships and other...

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