Stop the fucking presses!
Players should be able to choose and decide what the hell they want to do, to be honest. Whether you want to go to college or not really depends on you. In terms of Zion, if he’s healthy, he should go play. He made a decision to go to college, and injuries are a part of that process, and sometimes you get hurt, sometimes you don’t, man. But you made the decision to go to college and you made your commitment to the university, then by all means finish your commitment. I expect him to get healthy, get his knee better or whatever it was, and come out and kick [ass].
That’s Kobe Bryant, to The Undefeated’s Marc Spears, in answer to a question about whether Zion Williamson should return from a knee injury to play college ball, or sit out to preserve his health and surefire first-overall draft status. That would be the same Kobe Bryant who entered the NBA draft straight out of high school in the pre-one-and-done era, and therefore never had to navigate the dilemma pressed upon present-day teen basketball stars like Williamson, who must figure out how to safeguard their health, reputation, and draft eligibility for a stupid and absurdly risk-barbed year between finishing high school and becoming eligible to enter the NBA—a year they’d otherwise spend earning an NBA salary if not for the dovetail between the NCAA’s and NBA’s respective preference for not paying them money for their work.
This is the most predictable, Kobe-est possible opinion on Williamson’s situation. What starts out sounding like support for players having greater autonomy and self-determination curdles immediately into yet another pious, shit-eating scold, leveraging somebody else’s fucked-up circumstances to bank in a self-congratulation: I, Kobe Bryant, certified Knower Of What It Takes To Be A Winner, believe in [that guy] honoring [effectively coerced] commitments [I never had to make]. The performative “or whatever it was” is the perfect finishing touch: The last thing Kobe Bryant, Avatar Of The Mamba Spirit, needs to be bothered with is the specifics of the situation. His prescription for any and every malady is to be more like what Kobe Bryant wants everybody to think Kobe Bryant is like.
To which the only appropriate response is: Kobe, eat a mile-high pile of ass, you smarmy fucking dork.