Adeyemi AdediranContributor IJuly 14, 2009

LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 17:  Kobe Bryant #24 holds the Larry O'Brien trophy and waves to the crowd from the top of a double decker bus at the start of the Los Angeles Lakers NBA championship victory parade outside the Staples Center on June 17, 2009 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

For years now, David Stern, the commissioner of the NBA has tried in vain to make Lebron James the face of the NBA. Many have said that after Kobe Bryant’s legal troubles in Denver in 2003 the NBA decided their best bet was to make the much younger and untainted Lebron James the face of the NBA.  Towards achieving this end, the NBA carefully orchestrated a  “make-lebron-a-god-plan”. They called him King, they had special rules and calls for him to ensure his team does not lose or he doesn’t get embarrassed (good example was Dwight Howard’s clean block of him in this year’s playoff that was called a foul), let’s also not forget the   famous “crab double” which in layman’s terms is a travel. These were all steps by the NBA  to enable Lebron James gain an unfair advantage over  the real proven star, Kobe Bryant.

Heck, in the last few years we’ve had people not being called for fouls against Kobe Bryant, we had Kobe suspended for a few games couple of seasons ago for allegedly elbowing folks even though Kobe is basically fouled by the likes of Raja Bell, Bruce Bowen and every other self-acclaimed Kobe stopper out there without getting calls. The Finals against Celtics was another good example of the blatant disrespect that NBA was meting out to Kobe Bryant. In that finals’ series, the Celtics were basically allowed to get away with all sorts of rough illegal play against Kobe.

Many in the Media including Jerry West said Kobe has been surpassed by Lebron James. The so called specialists continuously knocked Kobe for not making his teammates better; this assertion is wrong and stupid on many levels. It is akin to accusing a teacher who has lazy students who won’t study of not making his students better.

For one, we all know that for someone else to make you better you have to be ready, able and willing to be better. Smush Parker,  Kwame Brown and the other scrubs that Kobe played with before Pau Gasol, Derek Fisher’s comeback and Bynum’s development were not ready, able and willing to get better. Not surprisingly Kwame Brown is long gone from the limelight not to be heard  from again and Smush parker is not even in the NBA anymore. These are guys that Kobe should have made better? 

Fast forward to 2009, Lakers have better players- i.e. Trevor Ariza, better suited Lamar Odom, Paul Gasol, Derek Fisher etc. These guys have gotten better  by playing alongside Kobe Bryant. From Pau Gasol who worked harder and played harder than ever in his career to Ariza who shot  a high percentage from three point line because he was constantly left open as teams rightly focused on Kobe. Also Fisher was someone who benefited immensely from playing alongside Kobe Bryant. In the words of the skeptical sportscasters – he made his teammates better.

The truth of the matter is Kobe has been doing the same thing for years and just not getting credit for it because his teammates were losers. Bottom line is this  Kobe is matured, accomplished, hardworking and the most recognized basketball or even sports figure in the world ( did you see the fan reaction at the Olympics)?.

He’s not a whiner, he’s the greatest competitor out there; and with all the  talk about him being selfish, not making his teammates better, the cant-win-without-shaq arguments now null and void, and him being the most marketable player in the NBA again, all I ask David Stern do is to now make the real King of Basketball – Kobe Bryant the face of the NBA.