Tag Archives: Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant’s Diary: First Win of the Season

After 16 years in the league, Kobe Bryant has decided to keep a diary to document “the year he caught Jordan”.  While Kobe refuses to remove the diary from a pedestal in his trophy room, he has allowed Writing Bareback the exclusive rights to post these excerpts.

November 4th – vs Detroit

It’s normally a great feeling to get your first win of the season. But when it comes against a team that would have trouble getting a .500 record in the D-league, it’s more of a relief than a triumph. I can’t even take pleasure in the vengeance against Tayshaun Prince for being a part of the ’04 Finals team that cost me my MJ-tying ring.  It feels like beating up a frail old man. He’s just so empty, like the automotive recession killed both Detroit’s soul and Tayshaun’s soul. But we got the win, and that’s the most important thing. It’s far more important than the well-being of anyone in Detroit. That’s just the truth. But it’s also true that your heart goes out to all the guys on the Piston’s team. They have to go back to a cold city with zero palm trees after getting waked (that’s a term I learned from kindred Champion Michael Phelps, when you’re beating someone so badly that they’re literally swimming in your wake). When you beat a team that’s not Boston, Miami, Dallas, the Clippers, Phoenix, San Antonio or New York, you try not to rub it in too much. Before the game I told the guys, “Let’s just go out there and beat this sad little team without making a big thing of it.” Then sometime around the end of the 1st quarter, I hear Ron yelling “Winter is coming! Winter is coming!” as he rotates to help on Greg Munroe. Most people just thought it was Ron being weird, but it’s clever trash talk considering it is factually and metaphorically true while being culturally relevant. Walking over to the bench, I tell Ron that his Game of Thrones reference was pretty good. He laughed loudly. Then stopped. Then stared blankly at me, “What are you talking about?” Never mind, Ron.

After the game, I overhear Dwight talking to DJO, “That would suck to live in Detroit in November. I’d be like, Brrrrr, I’m cold! Doesn’t this Ford Model-T have any heat?” Everyone laughed. When it died down, DJO let out a sigh, “I’ll bet that Midwestern cost of living is nice though.” Four games, 0 minutes and a terrible profile picture, I don’t think DJO is going to make it. Too bad.

-Mamba out

Kobe Bryant’s Diary: Who is Steve Nash?

In his 17th year in the league, Kobe Bryant has decided to keep a diary to document “the year he caught Jordan”.  While Kobe refuses to remove the diary from a pedestal in his trophy room, he has allowed Writing Bareback the exclusive rights to post these excerpts.

November 2nd – vs Clippers

I usually wouldn’t use a picture of myself that is so unflattering, but I wanted my first impression of this date to be realistic. The reality is that there was nothing about November 2nd worth remembering except me.  I scored 40.  My starting four “teammates” combined for 39. They played in such a non-best fashion tonight that I literally played the whole second quarter with the belief that it was 04-05.  Pau told me after the game that it really bothered him when I gave him a “stare like death” and yelled, “Dammit, Luke! Play more like your dad!” Pau’s trying to be helpful, that’s why I didn’t say anything to him about his effort when he said, “I no like seeing you like that. Do not go to there again.”  I should have told him there’s a reason I made Mitch and Jerry get rid of Stanislav  Medvedenko. It wasn’t for his stupid accent.

You can’t linger on losses. You can only take the massive amount of pain and anguish and use your grueling post-game routine to compress it down to a diamond of hate and motivation.  So that’s what I did. And I did it on one leg.  Rehab tomorrow.

PS. I hate Blake Griffin.

-Mamba out.

November 3rd – Rehab Day

You have to respect Steve Nash.  It’s the first time in my entire career that someone’s beat me to the training room.  I’m normally not thrilled to hang out with “teammates” at 4:09AM, but Steve’s nice company.  After giving me a the customary head nod of recognition that the GOAT warrants, he pretty much stays to himself.  He picked up a lot of mystical rehabilitation methods from the Pheonix Suns training staff.  It was the first thing I asked him about when we signed him, but all he said to me was, “Sorry, Kobe. Magician’s code.” You don’t find that kind of selfishness enough in the NBA.  Very refreshing.  Still, I try to steal some methods while I’m on the bike.  From what I can tell, Steve attacks his rehab from a place of complete mental and sensory stimulation so involved that his body actually repairs itself from the soul outwards.  While posturing in a modified form of Ashtanga yoga, he’s reading Dostoyevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov (a personal favorite), and listening to some Irish band called Solar Taxi on his iPod. But he doesn’t stop there, when he’s finished, he takes roughly a dozen different scrubs and lotions into the shower with him. He might be the most impressive teammate (no quotes needed) I’ve ever had. But then again there might only be an idea of a Steve Nash. Some kind of abstraction. Either way, I respect him.

-Mamba out.

Kobe Bryant’s Diary: Taking It Easy

After 16 years in the league, Kobe Bryant has decided to keep a diary to document “the year he caught Jordan”.  While Kobe refuses to remove the diary from a pedestal in his trophy room, he has allowed Writing Bareback the exclusive rights to post these excerpts.

November 1st – Off Day

I woke up to a text message from Ron Artest that was sent to me a 4:13am. It said, “Kobe my bad with those armpit fart noises I know thats not cool but I just wanted to fit in – MWP”  I respond with, “It’s cool – Mamba”.  I know Ron’s pretty drunk when he doesn’t have any typos.  If he’d included proper punctuation, I would have known he was blacked out and could’ve ignored it altogether.

If there’s one thing I hate, it’s mediocrity.  If there’s two things I hate, it’s mediocrity and parasites, and I’m not talking about the kind that end up in your bloodstream and rob you of nutrients your body needs to be the best at your craft, although now that I’m thinking about it, I guess that’s the third thing I would hate.  There’s probably not a more parasitic profession than that of online journalism.  It earns success by piggy-backing on the feats of great men like myself.  Journalists know nothing about basketball.  They know even less about the hours of dedication it takes to forge body, mind and spirit into a ruthless avatar of victory capable of winning seven NBA championships. That’s why it doesn’t surprise me that Shaq went into journalism when he retired.  But dealing with the press is inevitable for the greatest player of all time, so I answered their questions with the grace and humility that ensures Kobe System shoes keep selling.  Then I went and enjoyed my off day, a realxing 12 hours that consisted of 643 right elbow jumpers, 357 left elbow jumpers, 500 3-pointers from above the free-throw line extended (corner 3’s are for role players that can’t create their own shot), 4 hours of game film pre-edited to efficiently highlight the weaknesses of the players guarding me in the upcoming games, and individual Skype calls with every one of my endorsers.  No needs or news.  Some of my endorsers are still confused about who’s endorsing who, but I don’t let those details bother me.

I can only hope that Dwight spent his off day doing lane slides, shadow drills, and helpside rotations.  We got the Clips tomorrow night.  That first win’s going to feel great.

Mamba out.

Kobe Bryant’s Diary: The Walking Dead

After 16 years in the league, Kobe Bryant has decided to keep a diary to document “the year he caught Jordan”.  While Kobe refuses to remove the diary from a pedestal in his trophy room, he has allowed Writing Bareback the exclusive rights to post these excerpts.

October 31 – vs Portland Trailblazers

If other men had played 1,163 regular season games, like I have, they’d probably get pretty callous to the outcome of those games.  But when you’re the greatest Laker of all-time, you carry a legacy of excellence.  Every win feels like Magic giving you a hug and every loss feels like Magic getting HIV.  Dwight Howard doesn’t understand that yet.  He had 33 points, which would be okay except that he let the Blazers get 116.  It’s beginning to feel like one of two things could be happening here.  A) Dwight doesn’t realize I’m on on the team for scoring and he’s on the team for defense, or B) Dwight doesn’t know he’s Robin and I’m Batman.  Either one is unacceptable when you play for my team.

Maybe Dwight just needs some time to figure out his role. I can live with that.  What I can’t live with is a big man that doesn’t take his sidekick role seriously. For example, after the loss, I’m at my locker mentally preparing for the two-hour, cool-down workout I do after every game when Dwight saunters up to me with a smile on his face and hope in his eyes.

Dwight: Yo Mamba! Me and the boys are gonna hit the clubs and do some bonding. You in?
Me: Nah man. I got my routine.
Dwight in poorly executed Kobe voice: Nah man, I got my routine.
Me: Don’t pull that s*** on me.
Dwight: You’re right, Mamba. I should only clown on the rooks after a loss.

Dwight’s eyes are delirious with excitement. He’s looking in the direction of rookie center Robert Sacre. The stupid kid never sees the whoopee cushion hidden under the towel on his stool. He sits on it. Dwight’s rolling on the ground in laughter. The whole team is laughing. Ron is making fart noises by cupping his hand under his armpit. This is not the way the team should be acting after a loss.

Dwight: SACK! I got you, boy! Sack, you got some nasty gas, son!
Sack: Good one, Dwight!
Dwight: C’mon guys! Let’s hit the clubs! Why do you think I left Orlando in the first place?
Me: To win six rings. To be the best. To be like Kobe.

My comments reach no one. Everyone has left. Everyone except Darius Johnson-Odom, who is looking with a thousand-yard stare through the door the other guys just walked through. He’s wearing a white t-shirt and black mesh shorts. Workout clothes! Maybe this kid’s has a chance to be a role player for me.

Me: Smart move. It’s a long season, rook. Gotta stay focused.
DJO: Man, I wish I could go, but I’m broke.
Me: We got paid today. You and Sack got the same contracts. He’s going.
DJO: I didn’t set up my direct deposit.
Me: Rookie mistake! At least you’re making the best of it and getting a good workout in.
DJO: Nah, I’m heading home. I got The Walking Dead on my DVR.

I realize then that those aren’t workout clothes. They’re just the rags hanging on an undead NBA corpse. I almost feel whatever people feel when they’re not in a state perpetually focused aggression. Then I remind myself that there’s a poor, undisciplined rookie on every team, but only my team has me.  We’ll be alright.  I put on my headphones, set the iPod to loop the soundtrack from the Spike Lee joint Kobe Doin Work, and I walk out.

The Basketball Judas, LeBron James

You’re 6’8”, 260 lbs and chiseled.  You’re freakishly fast, and not in the overstated Jimmy John’s way, but in the way that the word ‘freak’ is actually a perfectly accurate descriptor. You’re smart, and not just in that hardwood genius (decent porn name alert) way like Pete Maravich, but in that entrepreneurial icon way, like Magic Johnson (awesome porn name alert) and Michael Jordan. You’re LeBron James, and you’ve got the world on a damn string. So why do so many people hate you?

We’re a couple years removed from LeBron’s choice to play basketball in Miami. And it highlighted one of the greatest questions any sports fan can ask of themselves, “Why does this matter so much to me?” I try to ask myself that anytime I’m getting revved up about a player, a game, or anything in the sports world. Now that I’ve had a couple years of hindsight, I think I know what it is with LeBron.

I’ll put my cards on the table: I used to be jealous of LeBron. In fact, I hated him. He’s one year older than me, and while I was wondering if I would make the basketball team as a freshman at Asbury College, LeBron was coming off his Rookie of the Year season for the Cleveland Cavaliers. At that time, LeBron was like body fat, a constant reminder of what I’m not.  Now I’m over it. I think it’s the five-thousandth hour in a cubicle that lets a person release the jealousy of impossible dreams.

That’s right, kids. Life is full of disappointment.

Life lesson learned. Good for past Dusty. Now it’s now, and I still hate LeBron. He’s my least favorite player in the league, and it’s not even close.  But why? He’s not a junkie. He’s not lazy. He’s not a selfish player. There’s a few standard answers other people give me, but they never satisfy my experience of dislike.  I’ll get to my personal beef, but here are a few things that I don’t hate him for:

1. I don’t hate LeBron for being an arrogant prick (ie. The Duke fan of NBA players).

A couple years ago, a friend asked me if it was possible for LeBron James to be arrogant?

Interesting.

The obvious, philosophical answer is ‘Yes.’  The definition of arrogance is “overbearing pride”, but this definition requires the participation of another person, so what might seem overbearing to me probably doesn’t feel the same to say, Dwyane Wade. Basically, I don’t like what I’m saying about myself when I think of LeBron’s pride in who he is as overbearing to me. It smacks of a personal insecurity that I spent my younger days getting over (yeah LeBron, I ended up being captain of my college basketball team. Can’t say that, can you?)….all that reminds me of this:

“All the people that were rooting me on to fail, at the end of the day they have to wake up tomorrow and have the same life they had before. They have the same personal problems they had to today. I’m going to continue to live the way I want to live and continue to do the things that I want with me and my family and be happy with that. They can get a few days or a few months or whatever the case may be on being happy that not only myself, but the Miami Heat not accomplishing their goal, but they’ll have to get back to the real world at some point.”

LeBron James, in the aftermath of the Heat’s loss in the NBA Finals

This quote is my favorite thing that LeBron has ever said. Most people think he’s bashing the little guy, but if you re-read that quote and think of “people rooting for me to fail” as being Dan Gilbert or James Dolan, doesn’t that quote seem totally sensible? Sure, I danced like a butter-churn  when the Heat lost the Finals, but I had to wake up the next morning and get back to the same life I had before. He’s right, and I’m okay with it. So I’m ruling out arrogance as the reason I hate LeBron. But I do hate him. I hate him like I hate Brad Pitt doing voice-over work (a well-used but still wasted talent).

2. I don’t Hate LeBron for being compared to Michael Jordan (or Kobe):

Let’s face it, LeBron has a statistical argument for being as good as Michael Jordan in regular season play at the same point in their careers (fyi, Jordan was better statistically…but it’s close enough that a LeBron fan could put a respectable subjective spin on it). However, there’s the “rings” argument. (see: “scoreboard” argument).

For the record, I think the “scoreboard” argument is completely illogical. But as a Kobe fan, I’d just like to say that anyone who uses this argument to rank Jordan over LeBron has absolutely set a precedent for using that argument for Kobe over LeBron. Sorry, it’s just the truth.

3. I don’t hate LeBron for his zero clutch factor….well, not totally

Forget the fact that it has been shown to be statistically irrelevant over his entire career. It was obvious during the 2011 Finals. OBVIOUS. No debate. He disappeared. It’s not like he turned into young Kobe and went down in a blaze of misery. He went down like Bruce Willis in Braveheart (and if you’re thinking “wait, Bruce Willis wasn’t in Braveheart?” Congratulations on being really close to getting the joke). I would hate this attribute in a player, but I actually love it in LeBron because it helps him fail, so I kind of like him for disappearing. Three more reasons I don’t hate him:

4. I don’t hate him for all his pre-game and on-court antics.

5. I don’t hate him for dressing like giant, mutant Steve Urkel.

6.I don’t hate him for Nike hiding the Jordan Crawford event.

I hate LeBron for making success the highest priority.

I don’t hate him for “The Decision” or for any of the theatrics involved. I don’t even hate him for the decision and the super team it formed. “Nobody roots for goliath” is a cliché by now, and while it’s definitely a true cliché, I understand why LeBron did it. It’s easier to be successful. There’s less pressure and more fun. The money’s a wash when you consider all streams of revenue. I mean, I’d have probably made the same choice. What he is now, I don’t hate. He’ll continue to have professional success with the Heat. But if we go back to Pre-Decision, he had a chance to be a hero. A chance to be uniquely great. I don’t hate LeBron for what he is, but I do hate him for what he didn’t become. Were I his friend or agent or counsel, I’d probably think differently. But I’m just a fan, and it’s what I wanted.

I wanted LeBron to stand like a Spartan against the forces of Big 3’s (and big 4s), market inequality, civil stigmas and and every player who thinks they’re better because they have wins and rings (fun sidenote: which person is Pat Riley and which one is LeBron in this picture? Had LeBron stayed in Cleveland, it’d be an easy answer).

I wanted him to be David the shepherd, not the King.

I wanted LeBron’s statement, “I got a goal, and it’s a huge goal, and that’s to bring an NBA championship here to Cleveland.  And I won’t stop until I get it,” to mean something. Anything!

I wanted him to test limits. Not just his ball skills, but how much can one man mean to a team, a city?

I wanted him to prove that being great is about a hell of a lot more than being successful.

I wanted LeBron to be Cleveland’s Basketball Jesus, spurning offers like Matthew 16:23. Instead, he turned out to be their Basketball Judas.

It’s over now. The damage complete and everlasting. I just wrote that I hate LeBron James for what he didn’t become. Now that I’ve edited the column, I’m realizing that’s not it. It’s not the answer to “Why does this matter so much to me?” I think this, like getting over my jealousy of him when I was 18, is probably just part of growing up. I think hate is the completely wrong emotion.

That’s right, kids. Life is full of disappointment.