A year ago, Kobe Bryant was on the ropes with the LA Lakers and wanted to be traded out of the purple and gold because he was just fed up with Dr. Jerry Buss, Mitch Kupcheck and Head Coach Phil Jackson.
They had failed to get Jason Kidd at the 2007 trade deadline because they refused to part with young center prospect Andrew Bynum. Kobe was almost at a point in which he refused to even show up for training camp.
What a difference a year makes for Bryant.
The Lakers finally gave Kobe a formidable supporting cast with Derek Fisher, Lamar Odom, Bynum and eventually Pau Gasol. LA absolutely fleeced Memphis for the 7'0 Spaniard, giving up Kwame Brown, Javaris Crittenton, the rights to Pau's brother and a 1st round pick. Redemption, adversity and possible vindication will emerge if Kobe can win his first title without the Big Aristotle.
In New York, we saw a similar thing with Eli Manning and the 2007 New York Football Giants.
Both of these players were the leaders of their team in the first and second largest media markets respectively. Manning was the most scrutinized player possibly in the long storied history of the New York Football Giants. The media wanted to bury him. Experts said he didn't have that big game in him. With a Super Bowl upset of the New England Patriots, Manning silenced the critics.
It takes confidence and poise to lead a championship team--both Eli and Kobe have that.
Adversity is seen to be the ultimate unifier within a team. Giants Coach Tom Coughlin promoted this idea of "Us against the World". Now as Kobe Bryant is going to establish his legacy by getting one without Shaquille O'Neal. Boy, what a turn around it has been for him and the rest of the Lakers.