Now I Get the Fans of Kobe

Posted on April 8, 2008 by


One of the stories I often tell in this forum – as the following posts indicate — is that Kobe Bryant is a very good, but not the very best, basketball player.  

Kobe for MVP?

Kobe and T-Mac Again

T-Mac and Kobe

The Return of Bynum Gets Even

Andrew Bynum is Getting Even

Kobe Myths

Kobe Bryant is Unhappy

Often a person (or many persons) will state in the comments on these posts that I really just “hate” Kobe.  And because I “hate” Kobe, I played with the numbers until I was able to say that Kobe is not the greatest player of all time.  

This always seemed like an odd argument and I was never able to explain its persistence.  And then I read the following by Scoop Jackson:

Why Kobe won’t win the MVP 

Here are two paragraphs from this column that capture the basic argument:

Truth is Kobe Bryant will never win the MVP of the league. He is hated too much. Hated by those who cast votes. Hated too much by those he plays against. And the two All-Star Game MVPs he’s won, well, they don’t count in this scenario. Voting Kobe as the best basketball player in the world for a day is one thing, honoring him with that same title for an entire season … in the infamous words of Bobby Brown’s ex-wife: “Oh, hell to the No!”

Writers won’t honor Kobe like that, not even when in good consciousness they want to or would like to. As one writer said to me when the subject was brought up in conversation, very apropos for an election year, “Kobe’s electability quotient is zero.” In other words, he’s Ralph Nader.

Jackson goes on to argue that he thinks Kobe deserves the award.  But again, he won’t win it because he is hated.  And that is something I did not know.  Apparently, if we are to believe Jackson, a large number of writers strongly dislike Mr. Bryant.  Therefore, it is not surprising that people assume that any critic of Kobe also hates Mr. Bryant.

Although I now understand the sentiment, let me clarify the difference between what Jackson and I are saying about Kobe and the MVP award.  As I noted a few days ago, I don’t think Kobe is as productive as the other candidates for this award.  So in my view, he doesn’t deserve the MVP.  But having never met Mr. Bryant, I do not like or dislike the guy.  

So let me summarize.  If Jackson is correct, Kobe deserves the MVP but won’t win it because he is hated.  I don’t think Kobe deserves the MVP award, but I do not have an opinion on Kobe personally.

Again, now that I have read Jackson’s column, I can see why people would think I “hate” Kobe. Hopefully, though, this brief comment clears up some confusion (probably won’t, but at least I tried).  

– DJ

Our research on the NBA was summarized HERE.

The Technical Notes at provides substantially more information on the published research behind Wins Produced and Win Score

Wins Produced, Win Score, and PAWSmin are also discussed in the following posts:

Simple Models of Player Performance

Wins Produced vs. Win Score

What Wins Produced Says and What It Does Not Say

Introducing PAWSmin — and a Defense of Box Score Statistics

Finally, A Guide to Evaluating Models contains useful hints on how to interpret and evaluate statistical models.