Have last year's accusations, off-court troubles, marital issues and confessions taken a huge chunk out of Kobe's popularity?
Many Basketball fans and Lakers fans have noticed the change. What counts is that he can deliver on the court with his comeback coach, zenmaster Phil Jackson. Did Kobe think he could get rid of Phil? The guy dates the owner's daughter. It's somewhat of a family business. Kobe's greatness could not share the same stadium as Shaq. So O'Neil got bumped off the team. He got traded to Miami where he is flourishing.
What truly counts is whether businesses are willing to bet on Kobe again after he left them down with his selfishness, cheating, infidelity and resulting lawsuits. It's a new thing. Athletes are under contract wtih those who pay the dough. They may think that they are superpowerful, but that is if they continue to behave. When they misbehave, nobody wants to be associated with them.
In taking its chance with Kobe, Nike said it the way it sees it. Nike's new ad calls the shots, "Selfish, uncoachable." That is the non-flattering way of depicting Kobe. Now did he have a word in the script or copywriting? What would the copywriting sound like for Terrell Owens after this calamitous week?
In life as well as advertising business, image is everything. One more reason for the rich dudes to behave and be more earthbound. We are earthlings after all.
We are betting that before the end of the season, Kobe will regain some level of popularity and love. For now, he has to live with what he has created. A beast of a young man with lots of physical abilities. It comes down to having emotional smarts. Emotional intelligence. Or being able to live with others is the greatest gift of all.