In the sports media industry, we call this offseason gold.
NBATV released their All-Decade teams for the years spanning 2009-19, a list of squads featuring the likes of LeBron James, Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard and James Harden. For any reasonable basketball aficionado, this makes perfect sense. On first glance, one superstar talent is missing from the top of this class.
Kobe Bryant, who some view as the second-best two-guard to ever play and a top-10 talent of all time, is considered third-team all-decade. Predictably, Kobe stans were furious.
The Black Mamba was a stone-cold killer of his time, one of the best iso players to ever live molded after the greatest pound-for-pound talent the NBA has ever seen. Always attempting to win an Oscar for being "Like Mike" and fittingly playing in Hollywood, Bryant consistently won best picture in his quest to emulate his idol in an era which thrived on half-court dominance and one-on-one prowess.
But this isn't the era we're discussing. By the mid-2010s, Bryant's style of basketball was considered old-fashioned, replaced instead by pace-and-space and dozens of different versions of Warriors-lite, leaving behind a washed-up Kobe Bean with a bum Achilles.
Hell, Bryant retired in 2015! His stats are nonexistent for four of the required seasons because he's not even playing, instead spreading a mysterious #MambaMantality shadow league PR campaign and starring in an ESPN+ series wearing turtlenecks like a bond villain.
Kobe's 2010s resume is lacking much relevant experience. Bryant played just seven seasons this decade, including years of just 6, 58 and 35 games. Injuries hampered the tail end of Kobe's career like many old-timers. There's no cure for old age, and after accumulating an incredible amount of mileage throughout the years -- including five championship runs -- Bryant's body gave out. It's no insult to Kobe.
Upon his return, Bryant wasn't the same player. His usage rate was through the roof and it failed to produce the same results. As the Lakers were forced to face Bryant's sudden decline, the talent around him rapidly deteriorated. LA failed to make the postseason in his final three years.
The whines from Laker nation and Kobe stans specifically are some of the loudest on the internet, and my mentions are sure to filled with misspelled vitriol by the end of this week. Nonetheless, the take remains the same: Bryant had four good seasons including 2009-10, and that's being generous. His last title came in 2010, during the decade's infancy.
It's quite possible to admit Bryant's an all-time talent yet also agree that by the 2010s he was losing steam. Highlight tapes will tell a different story, but most of those career heights took place far too late to be eligible for an all-2010s team.
Kobe stans are stuck in 2009. Go back to sporting cargo shorts and crocs, because the good ol' days are gone.