Hobbes’ Human Nature and Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant. Arguably the greatest basketball player ever to play (you are completely insane if you think that, but let’s talk about that another time) in the NBA. Also arguably the most selfish player ever to touch a basketball. If you were to ask Thomas Hobbes, he’d say that Kobe was just following human nature.

Kobe’s boy Hobbes

Thomas Hobbes is an English philosopher from the 17th century, who in his treatise the Leviathan, claims that human nature is essentially selfish. Even further, according to Hobbes, even the seemingly altruistic things we do have selfish motivations behind them. We do things solely to remove our own discomfort. To use Professor LaVaque-Manty’s example of charity, Hobbes says when we donate to charity it is so we don’t feel discomfort over people’s misfortunes, not just to do it altruistically. This selfishness that Hobbes claims to be human nature is evident in the play style of Kobe Bryant, as well as his contract compared to other superstars.

To be fair, Kobe is right

Kobe’s stats are extraordinary. Over 32,000 career points, 5,000 assists, 6,500 rebounds. There aren’t many players that have ever played in the NBA with a career stat line like that. The man has set records, most notably in my mind being the record for most missed field goals in a NBA career. That is a pretty selfish stat. It says that you’re willing to keep shooting even if you’re hurting your team. Kobe is going to shoot even if he keeps missing, saying himself “I would go 0-30 before I would go 0-9”, which is quite different from other guys in the league. Kobe’s teammates seem to have just accepted that Kobe is a shooter, a selfish player. To be fair, he does have over 5,000 assists for his career, but he holds the record for missed shots. That easily offsets his career assist totals. Kobe is just being a good Hobbesian is all, just following human nature and being selfish, removing any of the discomfort of not being considered a top player in the league, one of the best to ever play.

Kobe isn’t afraid to say what’s on his mind

Another way that Kobe could be considered selfish is the fact that Kobe is the highest paid player in the league. Being so highly paid locks up so much cap room that the Lakers have a hard time getting another superstar to play with Kobe and then having the finances to have a supporting cast around Kobe and another superstar. Other superstars in the NBA have taken pay cuts to play with each other and win championships. Not Kobe. He’s going to get his money, damn it. Getting that max contract is a way of keeping financial discomfort away, so just following human nature. Hobbes would approve. Kobe is a perfect example of Hobbes’ selfish human nature.

This one is perfect

Now, this isn’t an attack on Kobe as a basketball player or person. I have a lot of respect for Kobe. He puts his team on his back when it really matters and comes up big. I just wanted to point out that Kobe is apparently a devout follower of Hobbesian human nature, which is a selfish human nature.



  1. kevingay3 · November 23, 2014

    I thought that this blog was very interesting to read, and I agree that Kobe is an extremely selfish player. This year he is averaging more points per game than he ever has before, but he is shooting at a lower percentage than ever before as well. And I am not saying it is related, but the Lakers are 3-10 on the season. One thing I think that you could have included in your discussion would be how LeBron took a pay cut when he went to Miami in order to help the greater good, how he does not live by the same standards as Kobe. Along with that, I think there could have been more of a discussion of how Kobe has not won a championship in a few years but his personal stats (besides shooting percentage) have all gone up. Otherwise I think you did a good job and it was very interesting.


  2. eans14 · November 23, 2014

    This was a really interesting post. I had no idea Kobe was such a ball hog. It’s easy to call a player that, but this really puts things into perspective. I agree that Kobe’s actions are proof of Hobbes’s assertion, his style of play has always placed him at the forefront of the team, even when was supposed to be sharing the spotlight with other star players. I’m very curious as to who comes in number 2 and 3 on the list of missed field goals.


  3. maxmcquaid · November 24, 2014

    While I agree that Kobe does take an extreme amount of shots, I do not necessarily think he is selfish. While his style of play makes it seem like he is putting himself before the team, Kobe’s high volume of shots has helped the Lakers win 5 NBA championships. This season, he is definitely taking even more shots than he has before. However, this year, the Lakers are terrible, and you could argue that Kobe has to take all of those shots because of the weak Lakers roster. Kobe’s contract doesn’t really limit the Laker’s ability to get more talent, as they were able to afford Dwight Howard and Steve Nash in 2012. According to HoopHype.com, the Lakers will have over 40 million dollars in cap space, which is plenty to sign better players. I see where you are coming from, but I think Kobe’s style of play is the way it is because of past success and the current situation of his team.


  4. benlangt · November 24, 2014

    Kobe to me is the most selfish basketball player ever. I think Kobe Bryant if he could would go against five players and think he would win. However, I believe it is that cocky nature that has allowed him to be so successful at basketball. He seems to show no respect for his teammates unless they hit a shot to win a game. In addition, if he feels he knows a player better than his coach then he will do it his way. The fact that Kobe said, “I really don’t give a shit” when Dwight Howard left the team shows to me that no matter how valuable a player is he will always view himself as the superior. Although Kobe is one of the top 10 scorers in NBA history, he has also set the record for the most missed field goals in NBA history. Kobe is obviously someone who embraces Thomas Hobbes philosophy about human nature, but when you are playing a team sport like basketball it is really not the right philosophy to embrace.


    • retnuhar · November 25, 2014

      Kobe’s approach has worked in the past- he’s won 5 championships. That being said, seems to me that he is more concerned with passing Kareem as the all-time leading scorer in NBA history than he is with winning more rings, although this selfish play is also putting the Lakers in the lottery for the draft again, which is helpful in rebuilding. I can entertain the thought that Kobe has more than one motivation for his more selfish than usual play this year.


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