Adrian Wojnarowski Blows Up ESPN’s Hit Piece On Kobe Bryant, Calls Them ‘A Publication’
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports is the most respected basketball writer in the industry -- his word is as close to bond as you'll find on the Internet. When he speaks -- like when he destroyed J.R. Smith for being "the clown prince of basketball -- people listen. So listen up as he defends Kobe Bryant from the likes of ESPN, which he beautifully refers to as "a publication."
You might remember that ESPN published what amounted to a hit piece on Bryant just before the season began, blaming the Lakers' current troubles on Kobe's attitude and his inability to get along with other people. According to author Henry Abbott, Kobe was the main reason top-flight free agents like Carmelo Anthony passed on L.A. (and would-be free agents like Paul George re-signed with their teams rather than consider the possibility).
Wojnarowksi's piece instead paints a picture of a patient and understanding Kobe -- one who "hates losing, but he doesn't hate this season and he doesn't hate this team." From the article:
Around the Lakers, they'll tell you they've never seen Bryant so patient with his teammates, so immersed in the incubation of a cross-section roster of kids, wannabes and has-beens. Yes, his shooting percentage is down. Sometimes, he's tried to do too much. This is a process for him, too...
And yet for all the frustration that comes with the decaying of the franchise's infrastructure, the start to Bryant's 19th NBA season has been a monument to his resolve and resourcefulness. When everyone expected to see a shell of a superstar, they've witnessed his regeneration.
Woj goes on to refute ESPN directly on a couple of its most important points, particularly that players like George don't want to team up with Kobe, a five-time champion and incredible competitor (emphasis ours):
The idea no one wanted to play with Bryant was a flawed premise, a shallow reality. The Lakers never pursued the frontline players on the market, sparing salary-cap space for superstar classes in 2015 and '16.
"Facts are, 'Melo stayed in New York, partly because it was a great financial decision," Bryant told Yahoo. "LeBron going home speaks for itself.
"What the hell do you want me to do?"...
Truth be told, Indiana's Paul George was mortified a publication reported he didn't want to play with Bryant on the Lakers. He had a $100 million max deal to stay with the contending Pacers, and never considered the possibility of leaving Indiana. George won't soon forget Bryant texting him on George's way into leg surgery this summer.
The disdain for ESPN as a company and media outlet is palpable -- and this isn't Woj's first time referring to them as something other than "The Worldwide Leader in Sports." For most people, ESPN is sports news nowadays -- but so far, they have almost no one on staff that holds the kind of weight and respect that Wojnarowski does in NBA circles. In Woj's mind, they're not even worth mentioning by name.
In fairness, Woj's piece also blows up our dearly-cherished belief that Kobe wants out of L.A. and will eventually find himself on the Knicks. ("He promises he'll never go ring chasing, never wear another uniform.") And based on the way Kobe has acted this year, we have to agree. It looks like he's here for the long-haul, for better or for worse. I might not have believed that if Chris Broussard wrote it, but I'll take Woj's word for it.
Photo via Getty
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