If you haven’t read the must-read SI article about Kobe by Chris Ballard yet then click here and read the damn thing. Ballard spent a week hanging with the Lakers’ legend, who Steve Nash calls a “motherfucking asshole,” in China gathering quotes and observing Bryant’s behavior and interactions with others to write the story that so perfectly captured the mindset of a superstar player in the twilight years of his basketball career.
Like the great 3 hour film “Thin Red Line” there was so much great source material that a lot of great scenes (Gary Oldman, Viggo Mortensen, Jason Patric, Martin Sheen, Mickey Rourke, Adrian Brody, Bill Pullman & Billy Bob Thornton were all cut from the film) had to end up on the cutting room floor. So Ballard released another great read made up of excerpts from the story, including why he thinks players like LeBron and himself are underpaid and why he rather shoot 0-30 than 0-9.
Bryant believes that players like himself and LeBron James are underpaid, compared to what they would be worth on the free market (he told friends he thinks James would be worth roughly $75 million on an open market). With his last contract, he felt it was important to demonstrate to younger players that you should never take less than you’re worth. When I asked if he was taking a stand of sorts, this was his response:
“If you’re talking just from a business perspective, yeah,” Bryant said. “Because the NBA is a obviously a big business and teams generate a lot of revenue, and even more because of the new contracts they have in place since the last lockout.”
Gotham Chopra, the director of “Kobe Bryant’s Muse”, an upcoming documentary on Bryant, told a story about being with Kobe and watching the Nets and the Heat play. Recounts Chopra, “Deron Williams went like 0-for-9. I was like, ‘Can you believe Deron Williams went 0-9?’ Kobe was like, ‘I would go 0-30 before I would go 0-9. 0-9 means you beat yourself, you psyched yourself out of the game, because Deron Williams can get more shots in the game. The only reason is because you’ve just now lost confidence in yourself.’
Click here to read more about Kobe on Dwight Howard, the 3 players he respects the most, education and serenity.