Yeah, it's simple…Usopp disrespected their captain and Zoro didn't want to let him get away with it without an apology.
Simplify: ignoring the cause, circumstances, everything that happened in-between, irony, very nature of the SH crew and breaking it down into a strawman argument. Basically what you did. If you're that interested just read through the old threads. I won't say anymore on it since it's an old topic that I care about getting into just as much as "Usopp character development".
(Edit, lest I incur Ivotas' wrath: Just to make it clear, I'm not approving what Usopp did.)
Ooh good point. Because of Zoro's dickishness we were forced to put up with Luffy and Usopp bawling like a bunch babies.
Oda has been evolving Zoro's personality for a long time – turning him from a lovable goof into a responsible adult. And unfortunately, that's made Zoro less popular with some people, because he's no longer as stupidly funny as he once was. But I think Oda's done a great job of finding other ways to make Zoro funny.
Yeah, Zoro's found a new niche in deadpan humour. And it has made for some really funny moments whenever he lets it out. I also agree that he's one of the crew that has changed the most since his introduction, so it's a positive in that it shows development. But on the other hand I still find it a shame since, save a few quirks he's kept, that very growth and maturity has made him conform too much to the generic "honourable swordsman" archetype - one I never liked. But we can't all have our cake and eat it, too.
Of course we see the events at W-7 differently and always have, and I'm not going to try to persuade you otherwise (sweat) but I think you're right that at least some of the good deeds he's done since then are Oda's way of showing that he's not a monster.
Weeell, it wouldn't be interesting if we agreed on everything now would it? Not that I object to the principle per se. (Though I suspect Zoro has never read the story of "The Prodigal Son".) But I liked his bonding with Brook, so eh, let it slide.
I did miss the little lecture Usopp gave him - that puts a new spin on an already interesting scene (Usopp protecting Zoro for a change). Though Zoro's 'flaw' here was really just more of his honourable nature kicking in, I don't know if that should really count. Still, the whole Sabaody conclusion was great.
The way I see it, this is a convenient way for him to end up with a huge crew before entering the New World. So for him to have circus (the original crew), side-show freaks (Foxy's crew) and con-artists (the Impel Down 'converts') all together in one big armada seems perfect to me. And yes, he's got to go on to bigger things. He's one of Oda's own favorite characters.
When you put it that way.. it wouldn't suprise me if Buggy's newfound (and possibley future) strength in numbers might be his stepping stones to becoming the 5th Emperor of the new world. It'd be horrible and hilarious and perfect at the same time.