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Columnist
Such a relief Kobe's happy … for now
By Mike Imrem | Daily Herald Columnist
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Published: 12/19/2007 12:19 AM

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Oh, what a relief it is that Kobe Bryant is OK.

I was worried about the poor guy back when he was a prisoner in his own mind.

Life was so miserable in Los Angeles that Bryant reportedly wanted the Lakers to trade him to Chicago.

Today we know that was then (prior to the season) and this is now (a day after the Lakers' only appearance in the United Center this season).

If the Bulls ever regain a better record than the Lakers have, Bryant likely will reconsider whether he wants to be there instead of here.

Heck, if the Lakers lost to the Bulls instead of winning 103-91, Bryant might be asking for athletic asylum in Chicago this morning.

Instead, he's happy and we can go back to concerning ourselves with milder unfortunates like victims of wildfires, urban crossfire and subprime lending.

We also can turn our attention to the likes of soldiers in Iraq and the homeless on Lower Wacker Drive.

Meanwhile, we'll keep monitoring Bryant's situation. The insensitive Lakers might refuse to let Magic Johnson, Jerry West and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar shake off their ages and join Kobe in the starting lineup.

Bryant is owed at least that, isn't he?

Kobe isn't selfish; he's a winner. He isn't spoiled; he's a champion. He isn't whining; he's telling it like only a superstar can.

Let's face it, folks: He's Kobe Bryant, no one else is, and don't you forget it.

That's why I still would want him on my team. In professional sports we'll embrace anyone -- Dennis Rodman, Tank Johnson, cheaters, liars, louts and loudmouths -- to contend for a championship.

If we'll put up with those we'll surely put up with someone like Bryant, a decided victim of L.A. failing to contend for titles the past couple of years.

The Lakers must not understand winning is easy. If they did, Bryant wouldn't have to experience spasms of discontent.

Seriously, we must always be wary that the Lakers might recreate friction with Bryant.

As he put it while in town, his relationship with management is "a work in progress." Head coach Phil Jackson teased that "there's another chapter" to be written.

Never mind that the Lakers gave Bryant the opportunity to earn dozens of millions of dollars, three NBA titles and the adoration of Hollywood's glitterati.

Never mind that Los Angeles provided Bryant with a safe harbor a few years back when he was accused of raping a hotel employee in Colorado.

Never mind that the Lakers even committed to him by granting a rare NBA no-trade contract.

All the Lakers did was give Bryant everything an NBA player or Bill Gates could imagine. Now their problem is figuring out what else to give the man who has everything.

Bryant himself decided it was the opportunity to win more world championships. Who can blame him? He has only three more than Ernie Banks, Dick Butkus, Gale Sayers, Jerry Sloan, Norm Van Lier, Dan Marino and Charles Barkley combined.

That isn't nearly enough. He's Kobe Bryant. He requires more. And more. And more …

Yes, it's a relief that this tortured soul is receiving enough love to be happy for another 15 minutes.

The man could give sweatshop workers in third-world countries lessons in how to endure a hard life.

If you know what I mean.

mimrem@dailyherald.com