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In Trashing of Teammates, Kobe Bryant Shows Again How Much He’s Like Michael Jordan

As Kobe Bryant’s Hall of Fame career winds down, we’re learning he’s more like Michael Jordan than we thought.

It’s more than playing with an unmatched determination. It’s more than an offensive game dependent on graceful footwork, or unguardable baseline fadeaways or crafty post-up moves or a deft mid-range shooting touch.

It’s more than the championships-or-it’s-a-wasted-season mentality. It’s more than the swag that is borderline (or some say flowing over) arrogance.

It’s also a foul mouth.

Bryant, his team with 20 losses in 26 games, was already mad enough at their plight. But he attended his first practice in two weeks Thursday—hey, superstars with the kind of wear and tear over 18-plus seasons earn the privilege to practice only on occasion—and tore into his teammates as a drill sergeant at boot camp might.

Just as Jordan would.

“Is this the type of sh*t that’s going on in these practices? Now I see why we’ve lost 20 f**king games,” he said in front of video cameras. When a player of Bryant’s stature does not remain politically correct as the media looks on, you can consider him on the brink of a figurative breakdown.

For sure, Bryant, 36 and with five championship rings, has to be going coo-coo right now. He signed on for two more years, seasons he never conceded to being a patsy for serious contenders.

Understanding the magnitude of his presence, he said: “Practice gets real uncomfortable when I’m in this motherf**ker.”

And they are worried about bullying in school.

Kobe, to use the lexicon of the streets of Washington, D.C, was “carrying” his teammates. Translation: Punking them.

“We’re soft like Charmin,” he barked. “We’re soft like sh*t.”

No one told him to shut up or even questioned him. Not 6-foot-9 veteran Carlos Boozer or other players with the physical stature to take Bryant on if it got too heated.

Which makes one think: Bryant is right.

Players from a bygone era would have grabbed him by his jersey and jacked him up. At the least someone would have taken a hard foul on him as a form of response.

Bryant got nothing. He even gave general manager Mitch Kupchak a few choice words. He should be mad at Kupchak perhaps more than anyone; he assembled this collection of tissue-soft, ineffective, no-defense-playing characters to play with Bryant, one of the all-time greats.

“I come to practice to get better,” Bryant railed. “These (expletives) aren’t doing (expletive) for me.”

Kupchak said nothing.

Nick (Swaggy P) Young, the talented but erratic guard, tried to go at Bryant, saying no one could guard him. Bryant fired back: “I must be from another planet. . . You’ll go exactly where I want you to go.”

Kobe, who has to be livid with the realization of Jeremy Lin’s vast limitations, verbally assaulted Lin when he defended him, so much so that the former New York Knick and Houston Rocket took a jump shot to shut up Bryant.

He missed. . . on both counts.

“I talked his a– right into that bull—-,” Bryant said. Just in case anyone missed it, he repeated, “I talked his a– right into that bull—-.”

Players say they were not insulted by Bryant’s antics, which were part true and part motivation to wake up and play better.

It actually transpiring into victories is another thing. But what it shows is that Bryant is not around to just collect a $24-million check. He wants to win. And if that fails, he’d like to share the court with players who try their best.

When Jordan roasted his teammates, as he often did, he had talent on his bench and a coach in Phil Jackson who would provide balance. But the key was that they had talent.

Bryant has been positive all season, saying encouraging things about his obviously under-manned team. Then Thursday came. Too bad it likely will not make much of a difference with this team. But surely Jordan appreciated Bryant’s tirade.

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