Kobe, you're the greatest basketball player of my generation and you're killing me.
I remember when you first announced your entry into the draft and I kept asking my dad, "Is he really that good?" You were skinny and bald but you showed flashes of greatness even in your rookie season. You didn't deserve to go to the All-Star game that year, but after attacking MJ with some pretty moves, you showed why you deserved to come back.
There were struggles, sure, but then Shaq and Phil arrived and a bright new day dawned for the Lakers. Watching you guys destroy team after team en route to three championships made me very happy and I'll always be grateful for those years. Even though you and Shaq could never get along, you both have special places in my heart. Those places aren't adjacent because no matter what you two say, I'm afraid what would happen if you were both locked in a chamber together, but you're both somewhere in there.
Then Shaq left and you stayed. You were always my favorite, so as long as you stayed with the team I was okay. And even though the Lakers struggled, it's still been a treat to watch you split double teams and dismantle entire defenses. I also think you're passing ability is severely underrated.
But now this.
Now you've asked to be traded and this time it looks like it might actually happen. Jerry Buss even said that he has to treat your demands as a business move, but we all know that's impossible. Jerry Buss loves you like a son. When you made mistakes the Lakers never hesitated to support you. Jerry Buss may look like Jerry Stiller but he's always been dead serious about protecting your back. And now you want to turn your back on him.
Is this another demand for respect? I can understand if it is. Your emotional development was permanently crippled as a youngster, always developing your prodigious abilities on the court to the detriment of your social skills off it. Your need to prove yourself has always pushed you to succeed and exceed expectations. If you weren't an emotional cripple I doubt you'd be the same dominant player. Leaving the team that's given you so much (and I'm not just talking about money) would certainly give you another challenge to meet.
But before you pack your bags, consider this, Kobe.
You have a wife and two children. You have three NBA championships. You're widely regarded as the best basketball player in the world today. You don't need to quit the Lakers to prove how good you can be. I already know.