Kobe Bryant has been feisty on Twitter lately, first deploying a meme in defense of Russell Westbrook, and now chastising the NBA media for building false narratives:
At first glance, that’s a fairly reasonable, if obvious, criticism of the way the media often covers the NBA. There was indeed a time when people thought that LeBron James was a choke artist who couldn’t handle the pressures of the postseason. For the matter, there was a time when Michael Jordan was written off as a selfish player too concerned with his own stats to ever win! What Kobe doesn’t seem to realize is that he’s lobbing the same sort of criticisms he’s criticizing.
For example, here’s what Bryant had to say about Shaquille O’Neal during an interview with the New Yorker last year:
“It used to drive me crazy that [Shaq] was so lazy,” Bryant told me. “You got to have the responsibility of working every single day. You can’t skate through shit.”
That sure sounds a lot like “Shaq wasn’t serious,” which is an impossibly stupid take given that the man won ring after ring while dominating the court like almost no one else ever has, probably in large part because he realized that a man of his size didn’t need to go all-out on every play of every game. The media deserves a lot of the blame for this sort of hackneyed hot take becoming conventional wisdom, but it should be noted that these takes aren’t always pulled out of thin air. They often originate in the locker room, where reporters and writers absorb the way coaches and players grumble and gripe about their colleagues, and those grumbles into punditry. Maybe the “Shaq is lazy” narrative would have become as widespread as it did if his most well-regarded teammate hadn’t always been there to fuel it; it still seems pretty rich for Kobe, of all people, to scoff at reporters for having bought into it.