Thursday, June 12, 2008

Douchebags and assholes

Though the two terms are used interchangeably during casual conversation/blogging, there's a quite a bit of difference between douchebags and assholes. To illustrate this more clearly, let's take a look at this year's Western Conference champions, the Los Angeles Lakers.

Backup guard Sasha Vujacic, with his awkward jumper, dalliances with Paris Hilton, the stupid nickname ("The Machine"), and that annoying, girly euro-headband, is your prototypical douchebag.

(Just typing that, I'm thinking to myself, God, what a douchebag. I actually do enjoy watching him, because he's so much fun to cheer against.)

Meanwhile, Kobe Bryant isn't nearly quite as annoying, but he's an asshole. Despite all the feel-good stories from this season about his transformation, he's the same old asshole we always knew him to be. Red Sox pitcher Curt Schillingblogged about Bryant after watching from Game 2 from his courtside seats:

Who doesn’t know Kobe Bryant right? I only know what I have heard, starting awhile back with the entire Shaq debacle. I don’t really have an opinion one way or the other on or about him other than to know that people feel he might be one of the 4-5 greatest players to ever lace it up.

What I do know is what I got to see up close and hear, was unexpected. From the first tip until about 4 minutes left in the game I saw and heard this guy bitch at his teammates. Every TO he came to the bench pissed, and a few of them he went to other guys and yelled about something they weren’t doing, or something they did wrong. No dialog about “hey let’s go, let’s get after it” or whatever. He spent the better part of 3.5 quarters pissed off and ranting at the non-execution or lack of, of his team.

Then when they made what almost was a historic run in the 4th, during a TO, he got down on the floor and basically said ‘Let’s f’ing go, right now, right here” or something to that affect. I am not making this observation in a good or bad way, I have no idea how the guys in the NBA play or do things like this, but I thought it was a fascinating bit of insight for me to watch someone in another sport who is in the position of a team leader and how he interacted with his team and teammates.

Watching the other 11 guys, every time out it was high fives and “Hey nice work, let’s get after it” or something to that affect. He walked off the floor, obligatory skin contact on the high five, and sat on the bench stone faced or pissed off, the whole game. Just weird to see another sport and how it all works. I would assume that’s his style and how he plays and what works for him because when I saw the leader board for scoring in the post season his name sat up top at 31+ a game, can’t argue with that. But as a fan I was watching the whole thing, Kobe, his teammates and then the after effects of conversations. He’d yell at someone, make a point, or send a message, turn and walk away, and more than once the person on the other end would roll eyes or give a ‘whatever dude’ look.

Bill Simmons adds:

[Schilling's] Kobe anecdotes are so damning you have to read them to fully grasp the significance. All I can say is I sat close to the court for Games 1 and 2 and can confirm everything -- the glares, the yelling, the extended staring, the poisonous body language and everything else. If this had been pickup hoops, some of Kobe's teammates would have intentionally thrown a game just to get back to the sidelines, then done the "No, I'm running with these four guys" routine when he came over to ask if they wanted "Next" with him.

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