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Kobe Bryant

Today, Kobe Bryant woke up to mountains of criticism and posts scoffing at the very idea of Bryant and Jordan being mentioned in the same sentence. This comes on the heels of what many thought was a redemptive season for Number 24. The MVP award was a considered a coronation of sorts and he generated some massive Internet buzz by jumping over cars and snakes.

Like I said in another post, it’s funny the difference a week and some change makes.

Before the start of the Finals, Kobe was the man. Now it seems like folks are reveling in his team’s defeat (myself included). So what’s next for one of the most polarizing presences in the NBA? What can Kobe do to win back all the love he was getting before the NBA Finals started?

First off, he can lead Team USA to gold in China. Being at the forefront of the team that puts USA Basketball back on top should restore some goodwill. But it has to go beyond that. Like J.A. Adande suggested, it would be better for his image if Kobe stayed relatively quiet this summer. No bitching about teammates, Andrew Bynum or Mitch Kupchak.

Oh yeah, I’d probably stay out of Colorado as well.

When it’s time for the 2008-09 season to get underway, if Kobe wants to make everyone forget about Curt Schilling’s observations, he needs to show up at training camp as the consummate professional and maybe even an over-exaggerating cheerleader. Be the guy that extols his teammates. Saying stuff like, “I won’t win anything without them, including the MVP award” is a great start. Another thing would be to keep those emotional explosions toward your teammates in-house and out of the public’s eye.

Your first step on the road to redemption is, of course, China. The sporting world’s watching you, Kobe. How are you going to respond?