Kobe Bryant’s Leadership Style Over The Years

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In NBA circles, there’s no debate that Kobe Bryant is one of the greatest basketball players in history, but when it comes to dubbing him as an effective leader, you’ll get mixed opinions from peers and fans alike. Kobe, especially in his earlier days was a hard-nosed, critical and extremely driven individual. Sometimes that drive can cross paths with others like a snake on a trail and the two don’t mesh well. In fact, some players might resent that type of focus and mistake it as selfish behavior. Can you be an effective leader cemented by a competitive will that wants to win at all costs?

kobe-bryant-derek-fisher-hug1Derek Fisher once mentioned that he’s the “good cop” to Kobe’s “bad cop.” For every scowl that Kobe directed at teammates, it was countered by Derek’s encouraging words. There’s always been talk about how NBA players don’t want to play with Kobe. He’s too selfish. He’s hard on teammates. He doesn’t listen to his coach. Twice in his career, the Lakers had a clear need to reload in free agency, but because of Kobe’s uncertainty in status, top notch free agents passed on the team.

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Kobe Bryant and Kevin GarnettOnce in the summer of 2007, Kobe wanted out of the Lakers and Dr. Buss wouldn’t let him. There were rumors that Kevin Garnett was a suitor, but he later mentioned that Kobe’s status was up in the air, so he chose to join the Celtics. Recently, this past offseason, Carmelo Anthony was a top target of the Lakers, but ultimately he decided to stay with the Knicks and trust Phil Jackson’s tutelage. Is Kobe’s perceived selfishness (2007) and greedy attitude (two years/$48.5 million extension) worthy of leadership material?

Let’s play devil’s advocate for a moment by stating the Lakers lack of direction in the two incidents mentioned above had more to do with free agents not flocking to L.A. than anything Kobe did or didn’t do. As much as we say we want freedom, too much of it without structure is like playing with fire. Someone’s going to eventually get burned. In the waves of the Lakers uncertainty, players steered clear of the front office that resembled a rudderless ship. Note that it’s easier to predict how playing with Kobe will be like based on his track record versus guessing what direction a franchise will sail towards. What we want from our leaders is certainty. We want to know if we join forces together, will you have my back no matter what?

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