Friday, January 06, 2006

BRYANT’S EFFORTS TO BECOME A SWEET PEOPLE’S BOY

For a time, Bryant was not visible. Now, you can make him out again. Kobe Bryant was criticized openly for his personality flaws. Detractors tagged Bryant as a selfish, egotistic player who pads his own achievements at the expense of his team. These criticisms came under great discussion following sexual assault allegations stemming from his June 2003 encounter with 19-year old Katelyn Faber in a Vail, Colorado hotel room. That was the beginning of imperfection of his "squeaky-clean" image. Consequently, he became a symbol, not a person. But the time overshadowed all the things. The prosecutor in Eagle County, Colo., dropped the charges against him in September 2004, and Bryant, now 27, settled a civil suit with his accuser in March of last year. Bryant also clashed with coach Jackson. While offensively efficient in Jackson's "triangle offense," Bryant had a personal distaste for Jackson's brand of ball and subsequently called it "boring." With a full summer available for workouts - his first in three years - he is again one of the NBA's most dominant players. Bryant's first chance at the helm of a team would prove to be a very rocky one, however. With his reputation already badly damaged from the proceedings in Colorado, Bryant was closely scrutinized and criticized in the 2004-05 NBA season. The Lakers star this season is Allen Iverson in scoring this season, trying to will himself and a young group of well-meaning but utterly flawed teammates to a playoff berth in the Western Conference. Bryant's Lakers jersey still ranks fifth in sales among all players. On the court, Bryant again leads all Western Conference guards in voting for the All-Star Game, to be played Feb. 19 in Houston. The Lakers have struggled to stay above .500 most of the season.

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