Dirk Nowitzki and Kobe Bryant find their names appearing together a lot lately, but not for the reasons you would imagine. Their connection all steams from one word: superstar. Much of the debate lately – who is the better superstar? The league has shifted dynamically since a young, non-impressionable Kobe Bryant joined the league. The days of “miss ’em ’til you make ’em” are gone. Replaced instead by the humble-brag teammate who cares more about ball movement and elevating their teammates. Just ask the Spurs. Just ask LeBron. Now, being the best superstar is almost more important the being the best player.
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The one thing everyone seems to
disagree on lately? Kobe is not the best superstar. There is no dispute he has insane work ethic and has put his body through the equivalent of a Ninja Warrior course of surgeries and alternative recovery repairs. Yet, the most recent article from ESPN’s Henry Abbott is a diatribe on Kobe’s failings as a teammate and as a superstar. Conceivably, there have already been some who’ve come to Kobe’s defense, but Kobe hasn’t had this much media scrutiny since his 2003 sexual assault case.
Dirk serves as the protagonist of unselfishness in Kobe’s latest drama. Where Kobe is criticized for tying up Lakers financials with a 2 year, $48.5 million dollar contract, Dirk is praised for freeing up Maverick cap space by taking the “home town” discount and re-signing for 3 years, $25 million. Kobe played 6 games and collected $30.4 million last year. Dirk? 80 starts, $22.7 million. During free agency, Kobe either missed, dressed down, or didn’t partake in pitches to free agents. Dirk? Actively participated in the pitches of Deron Williams, Dwight Howard, and, most recently, Carmelo Anthony. According to reports, Dirk even joked about his salesmanship saying:”I was active the last couple of years recruiting, but it didn’t do anything. I was active with [Deron Williams] but he stayed [in Brooklyn]. I flew to LA last year to meet with Dwight [Howard] but he went to Houston. I guess they don’t like me much.”
”I was active the last couple of years recruiting, but it didn’t do anything. I was active with [Deron Williams] but he stayed [in Brooklyn]. I flew to LA last year to meet with Dwight [Howard] but he went to Houston. I guess they don’t like me much.”
If they don’t like Dirk … then they certainly don’t like Kobe. Nothing says dislike quite like the “no thank you” from LeBron as the perennial power forward refused to even take a sit-down with Lakers management to discuss an LA engagement.
At the end of the day, we could talk win-shares and side-kicks and, everyone’s favorite, rings, but the singular truth is that Dirk Nowitzki is the anthesis of Kobe Bryant. Loyal, selfless, apologetic, ruthless, humble, like-able and, most importantly, a partner. The modern day superstar who has people come back to play with him (see: Tyson Chandler) and, why he is a better superstar than Kobe Bryant will ever be.