Kobe Bryant. You either love him or love to hate him.
He’s the hardest working player the NBA has seen since Michael Jordan. His drive for perfection, however, often results with him looking down at his own teammates.
Though his determination and ability are admirable (to say the least!) — if you take Kobe off the court and put him at the head of the conference table, the ship would sink faster than the Titanic. Kobe just doesn’t seem to be boss material.
1. Kobe Doesn’t Trust his Team
Prime example: After the Lakers’ recent humiliating loss against the Denver Nuggets in Game 5 of the first round of the Western Conference Playoffs, Bryant said that teammate Metta World Peace (MWP) is the only guy he can trust on his team — and MWP wasn’t even there to play! He was suspended for seven games after he elbowed an opponent in the head.
Nonetheless, Bryant told the press:
“He’s the one guy that I can rely on night in and night out to compete and play hard and play with that sense of urgency and no fear.”
Really, Kobe? MWP is the only guy you can trust on your team?
Bryant’s lack of trust kills the chance for teamwork and results in the one-man show. Why would he pass the ball to someone he doesn’t trust? In the office, bosses must pass the ball often.
Mutual trust is the cornerstone of effective leadership: “If management trusts its staff then many positive outcomes naturally occur, including improved teamwork, morale and profits,” Lynn Taylor, author of Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant, wrote in an article for Psychology Today.
2. Kobe Disses his Colleagues Publicly
A good boss does not call out individuals or humiliate subordinates in public. But after Game 4 of the semifinals, Bryant told the press teammate Pau Gasol was being way too passive.
In Game 4, Gasol dropped the proverbial, and literal, ball, ending the Lakers’ chance at a ring. While Gasol owns up to that mistake, his overall reaction to Bryant’s criticism is defensive and argumentative:
“It's definitely one play, one mistake," Gasol said. "Obviously at a critical time -- but I don't feel like we lost the game on one turnover. There are plenty of bad plays or mistakes in the fourth [quarter],” Gasol told ESPN.
Calling out specific players hurts more than helps the team. It creates this “he said, she said” tension that does nothing constructive. It was a team loss, not a Gasol loss.
3. Kobe Lacks Empathy
While colleagues admire (and benefit from) Bryant’s fierce determination, the problem arises when Bryant can’t empathize with other players. Earlier this season when Bryant was out for a few games due to a shin injury, he oversaw from the sidelines and many sports bloggers got excited about the prospects of Bryant coaching after his playing days. But, when asked if Bryant would have a future as a coach, current Lakers Coach Mike Brown makes a great point:
“At times, greatness can't understand why others don't get it as easily as he may," he said. "I think that would be his biggest hurdle. If he could deal with that, then he'd have a lot to offer to the coaching world,” Brown told ESPN.
So, while he’s a master at his skill, Bryant can’t instill that same motivation he has into other players because he’s on a whole other level.“Lack of empathy is a key reason why otherwise analytically brilliant leaders often come up short,” Jeffrey Cohn, author of Why are We Bad at Picking Good Leaders?, wrote in an article for CNN.
4. Kobe’s Ability Causes Insecurity
Some players create a self-perpetuating cycle of poor performance due to lack of self-confidence — a result of all of the above points. Their of lack of belief in themselves is evident by hesitation during critical shots (like Gasol’s mentioned in No. 2).
MWP recently points to this as a fundamental problem among the Lakers in a recent ESPN piece:
"I think sometimes, not myself, but sometimes guys, they look to Kobe too much. I think they gotta understand [General Manager of the Lakers] Mitch [Kupchak] … brought you here for a reason. Because you're good. So believe in yourself.”
5. Kobe Doesn’t Play Up Other’s Strengths
Let’s continue with Gasol as an example. In Bleacher Report’s recent article Getting the Most of Pau Gasol, sports analyst and NBA lead blogger Rob Mahoney says that Bryant simply isn’t using Gasol as a real option in a basic pick-and-roll.
“In the pick-and-rolls that Gasol has run with Bryant, [Gasol] ‘rolls,’ seemingly with the full knowledge that he will not be touching the ball,” Mahoney says.
This is classic Bryant--not utilizing the talents of his teammates. This year, Gasol made a whopping 50 percent of the shots he took and Bryant made only 43 percent, according to NBA.com.
Still, it’s hard to say if the Lakers would score more points if Bryant passed the ball to Gasol more often. But, one thing’s for sure: The opposing team would have a harder time playing defense against a Bryant-Gasol combo attack rather than just Bryant alone.
What do you think CareerBliss community? Would you want a guy like Kobe Bryant to be your boss?