I didn't want to do a Finals preview; and even if I did, but Shoals already masterfully did that. And rather give predictions and such—or join in the chastising of Lebron for both not reaching the Finals and having royal sour grapes—I'd like to just focus on The Most Interesting Man In The World. More after the random picture...
No basketball player is more polarizing than Kobe Bean Bryant. For example, he's the only player that you either love or hate. You won't meet anyone that's "just okay" with Kobe. I've already let you know that Kobe is driven by his natural human infallibility; and is a demigod because of it. He is the Perfect Shooting Guard, and has calculated angles in ways that not even MJ could grasp, especially at this age. Now he isn't the impulsive acrobat that Jordan was; but his spontaneity is so complex that something that seems lucky is made to look easy. He differs from Lebron in two aspects. First, where anything Lebron does has a hint of faith-summoning inevitability to it despite gigantic levels difficulty and awe, Kobe makes the impossible looks so easy, even though he's the Game's hardest worker. He pisses off (on?) adversaries by being devastatingly cold-blooded with the precision of a sniper and the weaponry and tactics of a shinobi; while somehow making it look effortless. He's a Swiss-Army knife if every gadget was lethal and constantly sharpened. Lebron inspires the fear of a deity, but Kobe brings about fear of a man possessed by his own inner desires.
Honestly, I'm not sure what makes Kobe so polarizing. I lean towards his duplication of His Airness. The one element of his legacy he can't seem to add to his formula is power over the masses. Yes, he leads in jersey sales; but Lebron, Wade, and Howard seem to illict more smiles. Kobe makes you respect him because of his showmanship through mechanization. Never has a reverse layup or turnaround, 18-foot fadeaway looked so orchestrated. Kobe lives vicariously through himself; a self whom wants to and does live directly through the Ghost of Airness Past. Even though it seems to have limited his career legacy by following so closely to the Jordan Method, he compels respect because he's done so and kept his sanity.
Another main reason why Kobe is so divisive among Basketball fans is approach to leadership as a veteran. He's the last superstar that believes that the best way to maximize a supporting cast is to be a disciplinarian. Other elites like Lebron, Paul, 'Melo, and Durant recognize that lesser players tend to be more fragile mentally; so constant berating may be too much. Kobe believed that if his teammates watch him work, then they'd be inspired to do the same. But he seemed to overlook that even with that, they're still not as good, as driven, and as focused as he is. And that's where this new, Big Brother Mamba has unveiled. Kobe, the walking variable—constantly seeking to answer all the Y's with various X's—became friendlier to the lesser Lakers; complete with daps and hugs. Genuine or contrived, it's led to back-to-back Finals appearances. Yes, the previous two years' worth of Laker teams have had more talent, while before then there was Kwame and Smush (moment of silence for Smush). He had to appear human and incorporate cooperative emotions like trust and companionship to achieve his ultimate goals. That rebuilding period was the awkward moment he had; but not so he could see how it feels. Kobe had to experience trial and tribulation to further exponentially increase his will to win and propel him to the highest of heavens. Like I tell Kobe supporters, no one called Kobe The Best in the Association until 2005—the first of those mediocre years.
With the Realm of Basketball sharpening the Game's most complete weapon, Kobe's legacy went from lock Hall-of-Famer to top ten player ever. Love him or hate him, respect his Mamba. Stay thirsty, my friends.