What Might a Background Check and Employment Verification with Kobe Bryant Look Like?

Nick Fishman

I know everyone is piling on the bandwagon of Kobe haters with the LA Lakers getting blasted out of the NBA Finals against the Boston Celtics and since I’m a bandwagon kind of guy, I thought it might be fun to see what a background check might look like this year’s MVP.

Pre-warning for fans of Kobe or for those that take every written word seriously: this is a tongue and cheek article. Hopefully, you’ll get a good laugh out of it.

Kobe Bean Bryant started his career in the NBA by forcing a trade from the team that drafted him, the Charlotte Hornets (now the New Orleans Hornets) to the LA Lakers. Many consider this trade to be “ROBBERY”. After all, the Lakers dumped aging veteran Vlade Divacs. No charges were ever filed? Okay, we’ll move on.

Over the course of his career Kobe has orchestrated a number of other “THEFTS”. Case in point, he has amassed 1,321 “STEALS” in his career thus far. That’s a lot of stolen basketballs!

So maybe the thefts, robberies and steals mentioned above wouldn’t be reported on a background check. Now let’s get into some serious issues. Kobe was accused of and charged with rape at a resort in Eagle, Colorado in 2003. Those charges were eventually dropped, but it was clear that some type of inappropriate conduct was committed as the victim later filed civil charges and the matter was settled out of court.

How about Kobe’s conduct in the workplace? What might his employer reveal about him in an employment verification? Since we are having fun, let’s say that you could get owner Jerry Buss, General Manager Mitch Kupchak or team coach Phil Jackson (oh yeah, he was hired back after Kobe said they couldn’t win without him) to conduct an employment verification and reference interview.

Dates of Employment:1996 to Present

Job Title: Superstar Basketball Player

Salary: $100 Gazillion Dollars

Questions:

How is Mr. Bryant as an employee?

Every year it seems, Kobe is making a new demand of his employers. The first was his hand in getting his teammate, Shaquille O’ Neal traded to the Miami Heat. This selfish act combined with others caused the team’s coach Phil Jackson to quite. Jackson later skewered Kobe in his book “The Last Season: A Team in Search of Its Soul“. These selfish acts led to the dismantling of a championship team and made the Lakers a sub-par non-contender for several years after. Every year since that time, Kobe has demanded that he be traded.

How does he get along with his colleagues?

Well, Kobe has been accused of not sharing the ball or the spot light with his teammates. In fact he even once decided not to share his wife with a teammate. Just ask Karl Malone. He often gets mad when they don’t perform to his expectation. Even Curt Schilling recognized it in his recent blog posting after attending one of the Finals’ game in Boston. See excerpt below:

I would assume that’s his [Kobe’s] style and how he plays and what works for him because when I saw the leader board for scoring in the post season his name sat up top at 31+ a game, can’t argue with that. But as a fan I was watching the whole thing, Kobe, his teammates and then the after effects of conversations. He’d yell at someone, make a point, or send a message, turn and walk away, and more than once the person on the other end would roll eyes or give a ‘whatever dude’ look.

Not exactly a poster-child for creating workplace harmony.

Now that we’ve had some fun with this whole exercise, what can we take away from this? (besides that the author of this post had way too much time on his hands today)  One thing for sure is that the standard rules that apply to you and I in our daily lives, do not apply to star athletes. However, don’t be so quick to think that there isn’t a double standard in the workplace. Kobe Bryant is a top performer in his field. Any lesser player would not get away with much of what he has done and continues to do. Any lesser player wouldn’t have other employers begging him/her to work for them.

Would a corporate executive be hired with a rape charge on their record if it was reported on a background check? Maybe. Would an average run of the mill employee? No way. Would a top corporate executive be hired after the not-so-glowing fictitious employment verification shared above? Maybe. Would an average employee? I don’t think so.

As for Mr. Bryant, I don’t think he’ll ever have to worry about an employment background check for the rest of his life! Now, how do I make $100 gazillion. (Certainly not with blog posts like this).

Nick Fishman
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Nick Fishman

Nick Fishman is the co-founder of EmployeeScreenIQ, a leading, global employment background screening provider, and serves as the company’s executive vice president and chief marketing officer. He pioneered the creation of EmployeeScreen University, the #1 educational resource on employment background checks for human resources, security and risk management professionals. A recognized industry expert, Nick is a frequent author, presenter and contributor to the news media. Nick is also a licensed private investigator in the states of Ohio and Texas.
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