Written By: Trey Everett | @treyeverett
Loyalty: the act of binding yourself (mentally, or emotionally) to a course of action, the quality of being loyal, feelings of allegiance.
In 1996, Kobe Bryant was brought into the National Basketball Association. He was immediatelydealt to the Los Angeles Lakers, and ultimately changed the course of the franchise’s future. Since joining the Lakers, he has led the purple and gold to seven NBA Championship appearances – winning five, led the league in “games played” four times, he has been named “scoring champion” twice, awarded “Finals MVP” twice, ”league MVP” once, selected to the Western Conference All-Star team fourteen times, holds or shares over twenty-six NBA records – and most importantly, Kobe Bryant has never been traded.
In the lock-out shortened 2011-2012 season, over one hundred players were moved from the team they started the season with. The league averages even more in a normal 82-game season. And with the constant movement of superstars in the NBA today with LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, and now the Dwight Howard dilemma, it doesn’t help in keeping the NBA face on a positive note. Now, I’m not writing this to the Kobe-Haters, hoping they change their agenda. Not at all. I won’t expect them to. The price to have and keep Kobe has been incredibly high. Fiscally, and emotionally; Kobe has been involved in his fair share of drama. Alleged adultery, player-coach feuds, and even the 2007 moment when all of Laker Nation was on suicide watch.
Our generation lacks the leadership from great players who play the game for more than a paycheck. Great players that care more about bringing a championship to their team and city, than just bringing in a championship. No doubt these players are still great individuals, and not all trades are the players decision – but that’s the problem the NBA faces.
Would Kobe leave the Lakers? Honestly, yes. Probably. But the fact that he hasn’t – in his 16 season career – means more for the NBA than the possibility of it happening in the future. The NBA needs that. It needs for it’s owners, coaches, and players to bring a sense of loyalty back. Their are four men tied for “Most Teams Played For” in their career. And they are all tied at twelve. I would be incredibly impressed if you could name them. Because, truthfully, you can’t.
Yet, take a look back at these greats; the players that our favorites looked up to. My money is that you can name all of them:
Magic Johnson – 1979-1991, 1996 – Los Angeles Lakers – 13 Seasons
Larry Bird – 1979-1992 – Boston Celtics – 13 Seasons
John Stockton – 1984-2003 – Utah Jazz – 19 Seasons
Hakeem Olajuwon – 1984-2001 – Houston Rockets – 17 Seaons
Reggie Miller – 1987-2005 – Indiana Pacers – 18 Seaons
Kobe Bryant – 1996-Present – Los Angeles Lakers – 16 Seasons
People who grew up watching and rooting for these greats knew they would never be forsaken. For those fans, all over the world, their sport is more than a game. It’s a lifestyle. For them, labeling yourself as a fan means more than watching some of the season. And what gives fans more passion than seeing the players they love battle in and out every single day for their team? It brings a sense of pride and intimacy to the fans, a sense of respect to the players, but most importantly: it brings a sense of loyalty to the league. In my opinion, the NBA needs more Stockton’s, and Bird’s, and Olajuwon’s – and the National Basketball Association needs more Kobe Bryant’s.
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