Los Angeles Lakers: How Six More Wins Can Cement Kobe Bryant’s Legacy

Kobe Bryant is the single most polarizing NBA player of this generation.

He is both globally loved and loathed.  Laker fans jump to his defense when they hear any disparaging word, while his detractors relish in every single one of his failures. 

Bryant is either a fierce warrior who drives his team to victory or a selfish dictator who saps the confidence from his teammates. It just depends who you ask.

He is either a rapist who should be incarcerated or the victim of a fame-hungry floozy in search of money.  It just depends who you ask.

Kobe is either a soulless, derivative force that succeeds in spite of himself or a misunderstood superstar on a never-ending search to be loved.  It just depends on who you ask.

Despite the vigor with which people show their emotions toward him and despite the awards and championships he has won, there has been only one constant in Kobe Bryant's career:  It has been plagued by a massive shadow of doubt.

That shadow of doubt was cast immediately after Kobe stepped to the podium at Lower Merion High School and smugly announced his intention to enter the NBA draft right out of high school.  People wondered aloud whether he was mature enough to handle the rigors of being an NBA player. Consequently, he fell to thirteenth to the Charlotte Hornets in the 1996 Draft.

The shadow grew even larger when Bryant's agent let it be known Kobe wouldn't play in Charlotte, which led to the famous Kobe-for-Vlade Divac trade.

After a complete choke-job during the 1996 playoffs against the Utah Jazz in which Bryant shot three air balls in crunch time, the criticism changed from his maturity level to whether Kobe was even good enough to be an NBA player.

Kobe then squashed that criticism over the next few seasons, becoming a crunch-time scorer, an All-Defense and All-NBA selection, and one of the three alpha dogs that ...

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