Posted by Sekou Smith
HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Every second we wait for a decision from LeBron James is a small victory for Kobe Bryant.
The longer James waits to make a decision on where he will play the next five or six seasons of his career, the more time we have to admire Bryant and not only what he and the Los Angeles Lakers have accomplished and what might be in store as they chase a championship three-peat next season.
Folks will inevitably tire of this entire free agency drama starring James, Dwyane Wade and others. And when they do, someone will be sure to remind them that all these free agents are chasing Bryant. They are chasing the man with all the rings, the man who will show up to training camp with a team superior to whatever the free agent frenzy creates and the man who found his peace at home (LA has been his for his entire adult life) after contemplating the same sorts of stay-or-go dilemma that James and Wade are wrestling with right now.
Winning a title is hard, winning two is extremely difficult, three heroic. Winning four or more is close to miraculous.
This has nothing to do with life outside basketball, just life on the court — life on the scoreboard. Right now, the scoreboard reads: Kobe Bryant 5 championships, LeBron James 0.
He talked briefly about his first trip to Africa. He mentioned the safari he had gone on a day earlier. He excitedly described how the truck he was in had come upon a clan of hyenas that had identified its prey.
What stood out for Bryant was how the hyenas were so focused on the task at hand that they didn’t even glance at the truck of spectators. That’s what impressed Bryant: the pack was locked in, singularly focused on that moment, on that prey. It was as if the truck did not exist.
In that instant, I realized the difference, at this particular time, between Bryant and James: Bryant is focused on championships — now No. 6 — and his legacy in being regarded as the greatest ever.
James, who is expected to make an announcement about his basketball future this week, is multifocused. He wants to be a billionaire, wants to be an icon like Muhammad Ali, and wants to win multiple championships.
We can debate the best player all day long, without either side making much progress in swaying the other.
But it’s clear that the longer it takes for this free agency drama to play out, the better it is for Kobe Bryant.
It’s all good for Bryant these days.