Is Kobe Bryant the Worst Person in the World?

The fading superstar from Lower Merion is a real bully.

So there was this little recap in the Daily News last week of a happy-sounding practice of the Los Angeles Lakers. Kobe Bryant, the pride of Lower Merion, attended the practice, which he doesn’t very often anymore because he’s 36 years old and has been playing pro basketball since he was 18, and his legs are kind of iffy anymore. His teammates must be really happy that his legs are bad, if all the practices he shows up for are going to be like this one. He spent it screaming at his teammates, belittling them, telling them they suck, and generally being the Worst Person in the World, in, of course, the guise of That One Guy Who Cares About This Team.

There’s no question Kobe Bryant is good at basketball. I guess the question I have is, is it worth it to be that good at basketball if it’s the only thing you’re good at in life? Bryant has shown himself to be a lousy husband (remember that time he was accused of raping a hotel employee?), a crappy teammate, and even a bad son, as when he filed a lawsuit when his mom tried to clean some of his crap out of her garage. (Nothing says class like making your mom publicly apologize to you.)

So, yeah, Worst Human Being Ever. But what really struck me about Tom Mahon’s Daily News story was the part about Bryant picking on Jeremy Lin. Mahon reports that Bryant “singled … Lin out throughout the practice.” ESPN was able to fill in some of the blanks the Daily News bleeped out: Bryant told Lin, “”This m—–f—– don’t got s—. He ain’t got s— right now. Shoot! Shoot!” He then mocked Lin when Lin put up bad shots. ESPN adds that after the practice, Laker Nick Young took Lin aside and counseled him about standing up for himself in the face of Kobe’s abuse: “When [Bryant] talks to everybody else, some people tend to shy away and I was telling them you have to have some cojones in this league.”

It’s not hard to figure out why Kobe might not care for Lin, who graduated from Harvard. (Suck it, college boy!) And in general, I’m not one of those people who go around seeing bullying in every cross word or look that gets tossed around. But Kobe Bryant is a bully. “I don’t know if it helps them,” he said of his practice hissy-fit, “but it obviously raises the intensity level.” And he said, proudly, “Practice gets real uncomfortable when I’m in this m—–f—–.” What a teammate. What a guy.

Here’s how ESPN ended its piece: “As he left the Lakers’ training facility, Bryant smiled again when asked about Thursday’s practice. ‘Back in my younger days,’ Bryant said, ‘I used to practice like that every day.’”

The end is near. Kobe knows it. It’s probably making him a little desperate, making him lean a little harder on guys who are just trying to do their jobs. What do you think he’ll be left with when he can’t play basketball anymore? What every bully has in the end: his miserable self. I hope he finds himself better company than the rest of the world does.