Kobe Bryant is no stranger to distractions off the court. He has battled through the Shaquille O’Neal conflict, hatred by fans, and now his second stint of marital problem.
Shortly after the start of the 2011-12 season, word quickly spread that Kobe Bryant’s wife Vanessa had filed for divorce after 10 years of marriage. This is the second time Kobe has had major trouble in his marriage. Back in the summer of 2003, the NBA superstar was arrested in Eagle County, Colorado accused of sexually assaulting a woman in his hotel room. The hearings lasted eight months before the case was ultimately dropped.
While the hearings for the sexual assault against Kobe Bryant got underway, so did the ‘03-‘04 NBA season, and since the alleged crime took place in Colorado, Kobe was forced to fly to Eagle County, CO to appear in court regardless if he had a game that same day. He often flew to Colorado for his court obligations and then would immediately fly to wherever the Lakers were playing that same day. Sometimes that meant showing up only minutes before tip-off, or while the game was already in progress.
Despite all the media hassling, legal problems, marital problems, losing endorsements, and his image/reputation declining, Kobe Bryant’s mindset is too strong to let anything off the court affect his performance on the court. It was almost as if Kobe used the game of basketball to escape all the problems of his life.
Kobe played 65 games during the ‘03-‘04 season only missing 17 games due to injuries, the most for receiving stitches in his hand after breaking a window, not court dates. The Lakers were 48-17 when Kobe suited up. His scoring was his lowest since the 1999-2000 season averaging 24 points, while having 10 double-doubles, one triple-double, and three games of 40 points or more.
This season Kobe has not lost a step despite the distractions off the court. The pre-season concern from the media was about Kobe’s age catching up to him. Having turned 33 in November, and going in for knee surgery, talks sky rocketed that Kobe would not be able to physically compete against the rest of the young NBA stars. Then news broke about he and his wife of 10 years, Vanessa, getting a divorce, and the spotlight was once again on Kobe Bryant in a negative way. If it is one-thing Laker fans should know about their star player, it is the brighter the light and the bigger the stage, the better Kobe performs.
Kobe Bryant has shaken off the criticism from fans and the media by playing at the top of his game once again. His knee surgery during the off-season and the latest bump in his personal life have not altered his game one bit. Oh yeah, he also suffered a torn ligament in his wrist on his shooting hand during the first pre-season game of the year versus the Los Angeles Clippers. He is a man amongst boys when it comes to blocking out the drama outside of basketball and focusing solely on the game.
Kobe is averaging 27.6 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 6.1 assists per game this season, and is leading the team offensively.
Kobe Bryant is tough enough mentally that he does not allow himself to buy into anything the media says. Instead, he continues to work on the tasks that he can control like studying game tape, practicing, and focusing on the goal. Winning another championship.