No One's Pistols

All sort of amazing possibilities about to come true. Shortly, Deadspin will post my Finals preview, which barely mentions Kobe but will probably still infuriate someone on that count. On Wednesday, when we should be flipping out over this season's climax, FreeDarko will drop a screwy, shambolic draft preview that, so far, I'm quite pleased with.

But before any of that happens, I wanted to raise one Kobe point that's sure to set off 100+ comments. Today on Morning Edition, they had the "Finals for non-sports fans" preview. It was okay, I guess, and yet was mostly notable for the window it gave me into the minds of people who have little or nothing invested in the Kobe wars. Basically, dude was running through the key players and match-ups, and ultimately decided that the Lakers have the edge because Bryant can take over a game like no one on earth. That's what makes him impossible to prepare for, such a god among men, etc. At least when you're trying to sell him to people who probably don't care.

Let's forget, for a second, the fact that super heroism is one of sport's great pleasures, and the one reliably shiver-inducing feature of the NBA. I have no idea how people can resist its allure, which has a lot to do with my disdain of unequivocal anti-Kobe rage. It's like, haven't you even been hiking, or watched a documentary on conversion and zealotry?

I'm mostly amazed at how what was once Kobe's main weakness, as a player and a brand (persisting far longer in the latter), has now been laundered. In its most simple formulation, it's what makes him undeniably great. That stands for the layperson, but I think it's getting harder and harder to deny—or resist—among those in the know, no matter what side of the fence they take.

Granted, Kobe's changed, so his one-man assaults no longer have the same nasty, anti-social connotation. Still, the change in public perception, and desire to stress this part of his game, is telling. There's a wave in town, and it's hard to resist.

Also, R.I.P. Walt Dickerson and Bo Diddley.

UPDATE: Deadspin preview up, light on you-know-who.

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At 6/02/2008 1:43 PM, Blogger The Other Van Gundy said...

Are you allowed to reuse pictures?

I'm interested in how the MVP - rather than representing the completion of Kobe's image rehab - actually played an important part in legitimizing what's he's doing. It's kind of like having David Stern as your AA sponsor.

At 6/02/2008 1:45 PM, Blogger Brian said...

I don't understand why anyone's bought into this "Kobe has changed" narrative. He's savvier at PR. He's glad they're winning.

But just a year ago he was eagerly and joyfully throwing everyone he could under the bus. People don't change that much in a year. Rich celebrities almost never change at all.

I think it was during a playoff game vs. Utah that Luke Walton told the halftime reporter "It is great, Kobe doesn't yell at us when we screw up anymore!"

I don't think you believe he's changed at all, Shoals. You just find the mass disgust with Kobe's personality too tantalizing of an energy not to try and redeem.

At 6/02/2008 1:45 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

Fuck, I'm not. I was in a rush and wanted to get back to sleep, so I picked something off Flickr I thought I hadn't used. Hold on.

At 6/02/2008 1:47 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

I was trying to redeem Kobe long before he was redeemable.

At 6/02/2008 1:52 PM, Blogger Fredrik deBoer said...

To begin with, my frustration with you is largely that you are dealing in aesthetic concerns, and yet you talk about them as though there is some objectively right position. I know-- that's part of the point of the blog, or something. But I think if you really thought about it, your knee-jerk defenses of Kobe aren't materially different from people's knee-jerk dislike of Kobe. It doesn't help that you tend to make many arguments from bad faith-- people who dislike Kobe are racist, people who dislike Kobe don't really love basketball, people who say they dislike Kobe are just contrarian, etc. If you're going to defend Kobe, please do so, and zealously, but recognize that people do have "real" reasons to dislike him, as much as you may not agree; you don't improve your argument by refusing to address the actual content of another's.

To me there are three major reasons to dislike Kobe. One you have routinely dismissed. The second I admit is somewhat unfair. The third, though, is to me the most vital and (around here anyway) the most damning.

The first is simply that I don't think Kobe is a good or moral person, I don't like his personality, and I don't apologize for those things. You've declared many times that Colorado is off-limits, that bringing it up is "unfair" to Kobe. I've never really seen, or at least absorbed, an actual argument from you as to why that's the case. I don't like people who have sex with women who they have known for less than a half hour who are not their wife; nor do I like people who lie about it publicly; nor do I like people who act as though they are a victim for, whatever the reality of what happened, putting themselves in a position where consent is so tenuous and difficult to understand. You might say, and many have, that Kobe is hardly the only NBA player guilty of infidelity, which is true. I don't like it much that others do it too. But the fact of the matter is, Kobe's was public, and it was public because he put himself in a really, really ugly situation, and for that I have little sympathy. I just don't, on a basic level, think that what happened in Colorado-- and what it says about him-- is somehow a cheap shot or below the belt.

But, look, you've declared that off-limits, and it's your blog, so fair enough.

Tied up in this is the fact that I simply don't like Kobe's personality. I don't like his arrogance, his petulance, his selfishness. And I particularly don't like him because he has had absolutely everything handed to him in his life. He was born rich, he was born a freakish athlete. He had the childhood in Europe and the suburbs. He had the nice big house and the nice car before he ever signed a contract. He got drafted and, what do you know, he winds up on a team with the best center since Wilt Chamberlain. Like I said, this is an unfair argument, I guess. But one thing human beings do well is detect who they like and who they don't. And again, this is sports, which is entertainment. It's not even politics. So my aesthetic seems relevant to me, and what kind of irks me about many of your defenses of Kobe is that you seem to have a large double standard about the value of your own subjective, aesthetic judgments and the value of others'. You like Kobe, I don't; I'm just willing to admit that there isn't much more to it than that, and I don't pretend that you're somehow missing "the real truth" about Kobe.

What I think people who are really into this blog should care about is this: Kobe is a poseur. There is no better word to describe him. Every move, every word, every decision, is utterly unnatural. Nothing is spontaneous or whimsical or free. Everything is calculated and considered and planned. I can't remember an athlete who so meticulously crafted his own legacy, who was so eternally caught up in forging an image. The game where he refused to shoot in the second half-- in the playoffs!-- says something about his petulance. But I also think that it says something about his deference to what he perceives as his historical legacy. After 81, when he was going on and on about how embarrassed he was... I didn't buy it, completely, because it sounded so studied, so rehearsed. To me, in basketball, inauthenticity is an unforgivable crime.

That's just my two cents. Now lets watch these finals.

At 6/02/2008 1:56 PM, Blogger mdesus said...

Has the comment thread ever hit a 100 before? I see it was at 97 last week. For website that so often veers into the obscure, and is so dominated by intellectual types that's very impressive. I'm not certain that Marginalrevolution has ever done that. Of Course Alex and Tyler don't respond personally to the comments section.

Celestial being, mothership over the White House
See that, had your President shook
Take a self evident look, through the telescopic lens


At 6/02/2008 2:06 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

FDB, I don't think I'm "right" in my assessment of Kobe. It's an interpretation, or an interpretation of other people's interpretations.

Talk about Colorado all you want, and morality. These just aren't things that I think are all that relevant to athletes. Or Kobe's rotten personality, and what a poseur he is: No, he's not Iverson or Arenas, but there's a soul in there and its turmoil is fascinating.

You're giving me reasons to dismiss him altogether. I just want to talk about the guy beyond his obvious flaws, while acknowledging his greatness on the court.

At 6/02/2008 2:17 PM, Blogger Balcony Gal said...

That NPR feed was certainly for the uneducated hoops fan. Blah. As for Kobe...aren't we all tired of talking about him yet? I'm a Boston fan so I'm supposed to automatically dislike Kobe. I'm a married woman so I'm really supposed to hate him (what I hate is that ass who sits behind me at games and screams 'rapist' every time Kobe is at the line. Or worse, depending on the amount of beer involved). Can't we all just watch the game? I know I'm a romantic but I'll never stop hoping that we'll get through these finals without mentioning Kobe's past and without rehashing each and every past LA & Boston matchup. Lets talk about the shots, about the defense, about the plays. Lets talk about what is happening on the court (the attitudes of players, coaches and refs are all fair game as they are happening during the games). When it comes to the finals we should watch them for what they are at the time, not what each player is off the court or what happened in the past.

That being said, I'm all over the rivalry and chants. And I do love this blog, even when I don't understand it. ha.

At 6/02/2008 2:20 PM, Blogger Fredrik deBoer said...

"while acknowledging his greatness on the court."

Clearly, I've been remiss: he's a top 3 shooting guard, a top 10 guard, a top 30 player of all time, an absolute assassin. I dig his game. I kind of hate what I interpret as the meaning behind his game. But even I'm not contrarian enough to pretend he's not an amazing, unbelievable basketball player.

At 6/02/2008 2:24 PM, Blogger Brown Recluse, Esq. said...

@DeBoer: If that is the moral standard to which you hold public figures, then you must also dislike some of the greatest artists, musicians, athletes, novelists, and politicians of our or any time. No Picasso or Miles Davis or JFK for you. Too bad.

To your point about inauthenticity--at least we know something about Kobe's personality. Although I agree he's often very fake in interviews, you can tell that he's incredibly sharp and analytical. Compare that to Lebron. "King James" is far more arrogant, calculating, and concerned with his historical legacy, yet he rarely gets criticized for it.

At 6/02/2008 2:34 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

My Deadspin Finals preview

At 6/02/2008 2:39 PM, Blogger ItTakesAThiefToCatchAThief said...

Kobe's just trying to prove he was right for kicking out Diesel - which is fascinating only because it's like Sisssyphsusys pushing the boulder up the hill.

Kobe plays polo with the Duchesses and Dukes.

KG is the bridging of gaps between Russell and Rasheed, between Hakeem and Dirk.

At 6/02/2008 3:10 PM, Blogger ~CW~ said...

I used to view the Lakers as the villains, but I certainly have not the last couple years, mainly because they were so awful. I wasn't rooting against them in this postseason either, despite their dominance, but there are two reasons why I can't fully embrace Kobe, being:

1) I feel like by supporting him in this series, I'm supporting everyone who is making the Kobe > MJ argument that drives me absolutely insane. Not taking into account teammates or eras, Ziller tossed up numbers a few weeks ago when looking at CP3 that showed how no one is even close to MJ. Simmons mentioned this in his chat today, but I truly cannot stand it.

2) I hadn't fully embraced the idea of Celtics/Lakers until the Game Six postgame in Detroit, where everyone on the C's was just so legitimately happy, with Paul Pierce wooing and the "Beat LA" chant. This seems to be in direct opposition to the totally manufactured emotions of Kobe. While I'm pretty sure KG is thrilled when Casa drains a three, I'm supposed to believe Mamba really gives a shit that Ronny just had a gritty offensive rebound? Being a nice person isn't really a factor in being a great player, but it makes it slightly tougher for me to embrace that player.

At 6/02/2008 3:31 PM, Blogger Z said...

Just to help fulfill your prophecy, I will comment on a Kobe related manner. I rarely comment, even on Kobe topics, because I don't feel I'm worthy, but this time I will.

The main reason I dislike Kobe's game is aesthetic. I just don't like the way he cradles the ball. I think his hands are too small to palm it, and that makes some of his in-air maneuvers look dumb, to me.

Not exactly the most intelligent incite, but it's what I've got.

There's no denying that he's an absolute killer, more unstoppable than anyone in the league, by far. This allows him to get away with being selfish. When he was surrounded by lesser talent this selfishness was seen as a weakness, deserved or not. What I see as the main difference maker now is that he no longer has to play the killer role four quarters a game, 82 games a year plus playoffs. It's been said before, but with a more balanced team he's able to feed his teammates for three quarters and take over in the fourth if need be. So it's somewhat justified to launder that and view what was once a weakness as what makes him, and the Lakers, so damn good this year.

At 6/02/2008 3:43 PM, Blogger 800# said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 6/02/2008 3:44 PM, Blogger 800# said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 6/02/2008 3:46 PM, Blogger 800# said...

Sorry about the reposts, I'm incompetent.
@ Recluse, Shoals:
Something that I think deBoer is getting at, and that I'm not hearing an answer to, is the impact of Bryants's reverence to history. I believe that he hates the "next Jordan" shit as much as we do, but it's obvious in his game that he's trying to write something down. Game four against the Jazz seemed to me the perfect example. He was on the same floor where the flu game happened, and he wanted to be a part of that. I agree that the psychology there is fascinating, an that the turmoil and growth that we witness while watching him is aesthetically compelling.
Colorado still makes a difference though. I think what troubles me about this site's central thesis is the idea that the narrative of the game is only written on the court, and that sometimes that thesis is ignored in favor of aesthetics. I mean, I like the Kirilenko New Years pics as much as anyone else, but if those are admissible to his character and to the spirit of his game, then the whole of the Colorado incident must do something to change our perspective on Bryant.
This is more important to me than it would be for another player because Bryant is concerned with impact, perhaps more so than any player of his generation. Whether it fits the narrative or not, the way his legal team leaked the personal information the woman involved in the case has permanently damaged rape shield laws in this country. I work with sexual assault survivors, and many are horrified that the same (illegal) thing will happen to them, and thus they don't report. There were no apparent consequences for his actions (although in many ways they justify the enormous undisclosed settlement that he paid out to the woman). This is a lasting impact.
So what defines what's accepted as part of the narrative and what isn't?

At 6/02/2008 4:01 PM, Blogger El Presidente said...

Anybody wanna play NBA-Whatifs?

I recall when Shaq was "to be moved" and the Lakers wanted Dirk out of Dallas. Would Dirk be even more of a compliment to Kobe than Pau Gasol? That's scary, and I'm glad it didn't happen.

At 6/02/2008 4:06 PM, Blogger The Other Van Gundy said...

800#: "I believe that he hates the "next Jordan" shit as much as we do"

I don't buy that. I feel that Kobe consciously patterns his game and even his speech patterns on Jordon. Is it just a coincidence that their voices sound so similar? Facial gestures?

At 6/02/2008 4:19 PM, Blogger Blog said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 6/02/2008 4:29 PM, Blogger 800# said...


Maybe. I was hoping that of all the assertions in my post that that line would be the least controversial. I think whether he wants to be Jordan or not is important to his psychology, but it's not necessarily important to my reading of the situation.

At 6/02/2008 4:39 PM, Blogger Michael said...

Personally, I don't think the Colorado incident is part of Kobe's basketball narrative, but in all honesty I don't have a solid argument for why I feel that way, so I'm going to leave it at stating my opinion and ruminate on it.

On a separate note, I think that the criticism of him as a poseur is irrelevant. The aesthetic of the man's game, which is presumably what we have come to discuss, has nothing to do with his supposedly calculated public image. It has everything to do with the fact that he's the single most dominant force in the sport today; that he has the ability at any point to destroy almost any opponent. Watching him on the court, to me, seems to be watching a struggle between his ability to take over the game and his willingness to let his teammates shoulder some of the burden so that he can remain at the peak of his abilities over the course of the season and playoffs. This season, he finally had a cast that allowed him, in his mind, to lay off a little. I believe that's the reason for the transformation in perception. He retains the ability to take over a game and devastate an opponent, but he doesn't feel the need to exercise it all the time.

At 6/02/2008 5:00 PM, Blogger Jon Bois said...

I have copy-pasted the third paragraph of this post to about ten different people today.

At 6/02/2008 7:03 PM, Blogger Wild Yams said...

I think the hatred of Kobe is one of the most ridiculous things in sports. People have hated him for so long they are feeling they need to justify that now more than ever, and come up with reasons that are downright laughable for why they hate him. A few examples of this on display just in these comments are that people think he's arrogant, that he had everything handed to him, that he mimics Jordan's facial expressions, and that he's a poseur. Will you people listen to yourselves? The bottom line is you don't know Kobe personally any more than you know any other NBA players, so you have no idea what he's really like or if he's really that different from anyone else in the league. For years people have picked over Kobe's personality and his flaws with an electron microscope in an exhaustive quest to unearth the reasons to hate him, and for what?

Let's examine a few of these statements. Let's start with the assertion that Kobe had everything handed to him. OK, so you're saying you hate Kobe for things that are beyond his control, namely that through his parents he inherited wealth and good genetics. Is that really much different than hating someone because they're gay, or black or a woman? I don't think so. Should Kobe have asked to be emancipated from his parents so he could go to a foster home in the ghetto for some street cred early in life? Putting that nonsense aside, it's widely agreed upon by just about anyone having anything to do with the NBA that Kobe is the game's hardest worker. That alone should negate the feeling that "everything was handed to him." Kobe isn't the most athletically talented player in the league, and he isn't the strongest or the tallest or the one possessing the largest vertical leap. He does probably possess the best fundamentals and footwork though, and that, unfortunately for the haters, is not something he inherited genetically.

I'll tackle the rest of these issues at once: Kobe mimicking Jordan's facial expressions, Kobe being arrogant and Kobe being insincere. If you've ever read much of an in-depth article about Kobe, especially about his childhood, it's not surprising he is the way he appears to be. By all the stuff I've read about him I'd say he sounds like someone who is borderline insane, and was probably even more so as a child. Growing up in Italy while being fanatically obsessed with basketball (while everyone around him was into soccer), with only sisters and no brothers was probably a fairly isolated environment for Kobe. By all accounts he spent most of his time in Italy playing basketball alone, and trying to mimic the moves he saw NBA players performing on TV. If the guy seems insincere, my guess is because he probably has little interest in talking to much of anyone, just like he was early in his career, and is belatedly trying to develop a personality after being roasted by teammates for being so solitary a person when he first came into the league, and after being roasted by the media for much of his career for not being "likable" enough. I think if he comes across like he's mimicking Jordan it's because he probably had no real outward personality for the press to speak of, and when forced to develop one he fell back on the most well-known template. I think the people who think he's going out of his way for all of us to think he is Michael Jordan underestimate his goal: he wants to surpass Jordan, and this is where the "arrogance" claims come from. But the people who level those criticisms of him are just being hypocrites because I daresay you can't find a truly top-notch individual athlete who does not have that borderline crazy confidence in themselves. Jordan had it, Magic had it, Bird had it, Russell had it, Shaq had it, etc. When those guys are trying to put on a humble face for the cameras, they too are being disingenuous. It's Kobe's crazy belief in himself which allows him to even try to take over games in the way that Garnett seldom attempts.

Many people like to point to the Colorado rape incident as the real reason they hate Kobe, but they're bullshitting everyone when they say that. Kobe was widely despised for years before that happened in 2004. Look at the 2002 All Star game, when Kobe won his first All Star MVP and was booed resoundingly in his home town. The rape allegations simply gave many people a solid reason on which to pin their hatred, but it's bogus as well, and anyone who looked at that case with more than a passing interest could tell you that. The woman refused to testify, even though her name was already known, and many facts about the case were already known. Her rape kit exam showed evidence of intercourse with at least two other men, in her statement to the police she said she never told Kobe "no" or to stop, she arranged it so that she could be alone with him in the first place, there was virtually no evidence of any forced struggle, there were no witnesses and nobody who overheard anything, and she even had said that once she was alone in the room with Kobe that when he asked her if she wanted to go into the courtyard to go hot tubbing she said no (wouldn't you take any excuse to leave the privacy of the room if you felt threatened?). But she refused to testify and ultimately it never went to trial. That didn't stop her from suing Kobe for money though, which really called her motive into question, IMO. In any event, I look at the whole Colorado thing like this: I don't know what happened anymore than anyone else does, but Kobe's accuser seemed satisfied with whatever she got and Kobe's wife stood by his side the whole time, so if those two women don't have a problem with it anymore, then it's silly for anyone else to.

Ultimately all of this nonsense serves as a way to distract everyone from talking about Kobe's game, because when it comes to that it is infinitely harder to find issues to gripe about. People say Kobe has really changed or elevated his game this year, but to a large degree that just isn't true. The biggest thing that changed is the obvious: the quality of his teammates. Kobe now knows that if he passes it to Gasol or Fisher that they're going to probably do something good with the ball, whereas Smush and Kwame were almost surely likely to do something bad with it in previous seasons. To Kobe's credit he still tried to involve those players, but balls fumbled out of bounds or thrown up for airballs don't register on the stat sheet as an assist for Kobe. And it's not just Fisher and Gasol that have improved the Laker team that surrounds Kobe, but many of the role players finally started to play up to the promise they showed when Mitch Kupchak drafted them. Sasha Vujacic, Jordan Farmar, Ronny Turiaf and Andrew Bynum all played great this year, and for the naysayers who say it just took Kobe this long to make them finally play well, that is not the case. Just look at the age of each of those players and it's clear why only now they finally started coming to play. Also for the first year since Kobe and Odom have been teammates Odom was healthy all year (save for the first week or so of the season when he was still recovering from offseason surgery he needed for most of last year).

The haters will continue to hate and they will continue to manufacture reasons to do so if need be. Kobe may not be the greatest ever and he may not even be the greatest today, but he unquestionably a great basketball player; and for many of us, as long as it's not proven in a court of law that he's harmed anyone, his greatness on the court is all that is relevant.

At 6/02/2008 7:05 PM, Blogger Enjorlas said...

the past couple posts for the finals are about as FD as it gets.

If you really find Kobe that artificial (in regards to being called a poseur), then how is he so honest on the court? We remember the games of 99 - 04 during which Kobe's blossoming skill came only to his machismo. Now the former is the extension of the other. How many players can get 10 foot jump shots in the middle of the key against the Spurs?

Then again, KB has become the alpha and the omega of the NBA. He is the whiteboard for any critique or complement. I don't think he cares about the critiques or the complements, anymore, just looking for #4. And really, that's what we want all superstars looking at. right?

At 6/02/2008 7:15 PM, Blogger The wondering Mind said...

Aahh, today we entertain mean spirited innuendos, aesthetic arguments based on rumors and factual conclusions drawn from our overriding contempt for logic. Basically you’re points, Deboer are this:

You have never met Kobe but he is fake.

You don't know what happened in Colorado but it offends you.

Kobe is a poseur (which is a redundant point since you already said you don't like his personality but moving on) I would like to ask how you know this or more importantly unlike who (that is not a poseur)? The Detroit Free Press said this morning in comparing KG to Sheed, that KG is mean to ball boys and junior staff on his team, am I to form an opinion on KG based on that? If I am only wired to view events through a negative prism, how exactly is that KG’s problem?

So much animosity, so little facts.

At 6/02/2008 7:44 PM, Blogger 800# said...

What I think is ridiculous is that this is an argument about whether or not I should hate Kobe Bryant.
My post was about how his defense team in the Colorado situation violated state laws in releasing the plaintiffs identity and that ultimately this has led to widespread fear among sexual assault survivors about their anonymity and safety. I don't know anything more than anyone else about the specifics of the case, but I think that this tactic was unethical and is illegal. A fantastic civil case could have been built around this alone, but a large monetary settlement and the end of brutal legal process was enough for the plaintiff.
So how does this effect his legacy? Wild Yams suggests that it should be ignored because nothing has ever been proven, and because of the supposedly insurmountable evidence in the case. I think that the way his defense team operated at his behest though still leaves a mark, and that it will remain part of the public consciousness in a way that damages further investigations. The arguments above are made in spite of the case, and I suggest that for me, and probably for others, the case will still have a real negative impact.
So does that make me a hater? I'm not sure. I've found that I can appreciate his moves, and I understand how what he does on the court is extraordinary. I think that the events can leave a taste in my mouth though, and that an examination of the emotional and aesthetic effect of the game will always be intertwined with context. I don't think I can approach the court as a blank slate, and I don't want to.

At 6/02/2008 8:06 PM, Blogger R. Lobstah said...

I'm not particularly interested in convincing anyone to like Kobe. His ability is obvious, his personality less so. I'm not sure that disliking a basketball player, and finding one's self irked by his basketball success, is all that different then disliking a basketball player because he plays for a rival team. Both "reasons" to dislike a human, and hoping for their failure, are human reasons. The one issue I have with deBoer's comment is that Kobe had everything handed to him. Dude works hard. If there was one thing that separated Kobe from Shaq it was that.

At 6/02/2008 8:10 PM, Blogger DJ Slick Watts said...

"While I'm pretty sure KG is thrilled when Casa drains a three, I'm supposed to believe Mamba really gives a shit that Ronny just had a gritty offensive rebound?"

Uh, yeah? I always think this is so weird: KG's (Shaq's, too, sometimes) on-court exhortations of his teammates are somehow more authentic than Kobe's? As though KG just thinks Eddie House and Leon Powe are cool, and he likes the East Bay, and he'd root for them even if they weren't on his team. Kobe's happy about Turiaf's success for the same reason Garnett's happy about House's: it's a team sport.

Because if it's just that House shooting threes is per se more exciting than Turiaf rebounding, that seems a little dishonest, no?

At 6/02/2008 8:31 PM, Blogger Nick said...

I know you guys need bread but damn, deadspin is worse than the most dumbass of msm sites; they're populated by ordinary dopes, whereas deadspin comment boxes are 90% morons who think they're clever....the blight of snark lies heavy upon the land...

At 6/02/2008 10:50 PM, Blogger ItTakesAThiefToCatchAThief said...

Wildyams is no Atticus Finch.

Todd Haynes should make a movie about Kobe, cast Cate Blanchett to play the MiniAfro Kobe - Hipsterific.

I also now understand the "fascination" thing discussed earlier. The contrast of the best player in the game and the responses he creates is fascinating.

It's convential though. Car wreck on the highway. I'm tired of reading and hearing and hearing and reading about Kobe, because the haters are right and wrong & the defenders are wrong & right - kind-of like the dems and repubs, except not at all because the dems and repubs are always wrong and should be taken out back and shot like a rabid dog, right between the eyes.

KG is in the finals. 26/14.

At 6/02/2008 11:13 PM, OpenID tredecimal said...

If I may indulge in a little reification of my own, the "only" story is a Boston win. If LA wins, Kobe's been there before. Shaqless, it's 'his' team now. Surely that's a more compelling story than KG, PP, Jesus' first ring? Nope. Wow, this kind of thing is easy.

The only time I have ever enjoyed watching Kobe was the world games last summer. Seeing him as an equal among un-equals was a real revelation. You could see that in some league where there were plenty of teams that could take the US down in repeated, non-neutral site, NBA-rules competition, he'd still emerge as an elite.

At 6/03/2008 12:03 AM, Blogger Sweat of Ewing said...

@Wild Yams: I'm not going to argue with the rest of it, because I (for the most part) agree that Kobe is a hard worker, and I think the reading of him as an isolate who formulated his persona upon a template reads true. But this statement, man:

"Kobe's accuser seemed satisfied with whatever she got and Kobe's wife stood by his side the whole time, so if those two women don't have a problem with it anymore, then it's silly for anyone else to."

We should care because of legal (and I suppose moral) precedent. Just because the two women most directly involved were supposedly satisfied with the outcome of the legal/behind the scenes proceedings (and I hold that we have NO idea whether this is true), that doesn't mean that I or anyone else have any obligation to feel the same. I accept that they may be satisfied with the situation. That doesn't mean it doesn't bear upon tangentially similar situations involving other women and men - Colorado bears the stink of injustice and entitlement of the wealthy, regardless of who got enough cash in the end to keep quiet.

At 6/03/2008 1:09 AM, Blogger R. Lobstah said...

@Sweat of Ewing, I'm wondering what justice would be in a rape case? What exactly is a rape worth? Or, what is a marital infidelity worth? What is getting this slut, the courts, and lawyers out of my life worth? There is more then one scenario in which this result is an injustice. The question is against whom. If the sex was consensual, why should he have to pay whatever it is he paid her? She used his fame, wealth, marital status and the courts against him. Was it because he was rich and famous that the case had any legs anyway? Could he have gotten away with paying her less (even if a rape occurred) if he was less rich and less famous? At least if she was raped she was compensated for it, which is allot less then can be said of a woman whose been raped and had to go to trial to have the man put in a cage. How does jailing a rapist compensate the victim?

As for the rest, Wild Yams said it best. Kobe is what he has been for years. It just so happens that his teammates grew up and he gained a very talented teammate by the misfortune of another team.

One more point regarding his relationships with teammates. I remember watching Kobe being interviewed either earlier this season or sometime last and he mentioned something about his not realizing what he had in his teammates during the championship years. Never mind Shaq, Kobe had come into an NBA in which his teammates had a pretty good idea of who they were, what their game was about and how to maximize their talent. They knew where to be for passes. They understood how to get a rebound. They did the little things. Then he found himself on a team full of kids, none of them as talented as he was as a kid. Coming to terms with the inadequacies of those teammates made him realize just how much he loved his old teammates.

So much about the love between teammates is in having each others' back. Being ready for a pass, hitting key shots, hustling for rebounds and playing opportunistic D is how a role player has the back of a star player. I think Kobe recognizes what he has in his teammates now. I think he feels they have his back and are ready to propel his legacy to where he wants it to go. I think this time around Kobe appreciates the teammates he has while he has them and this may be the first time he has had that experience. Seeing that Kobe is as inexperienced with this aspect of life, seeing that Kobe is as studied as he is, his reaction to it rings, to many of us watching, as phony. His awkwardness in the face of his love for his teammates strikes me as appropriate for the sort of man Kobe seems to be.

Am I projecting my hopes and dreams onto Kobe? Could be... but I ain't hating.

At 6/03/2008 2:30 AM, Blogger Notorious D.I.G. said...

That is if you are assuming guilt on the man's part. Realistically all we know is that two people had sex. Whether it be do to rape or gold-digging. we don't know. So please stop assuming a dismissed allegation to be guilt.

At 6/03/2008 5:10 AM, Blogger 800# said...

@ Lobstah:

That doesn't answer my argument though. The disclosure of the plantiff's information was illegal and unethical. Regardless of whether or not Kobe would have been punished for a crime he didn't commit, there was no reason to subvert rape shield laws to protect his innocence. I mean, it worked, but what's to say that his defense wouldn't have worked anyways had the case gone to trial?

Further, the reason that we put people away for sexual assault is because it A) provides a material barrier between perpetrators and victims, B) it represents a state reprimand of the perpetrator's behavior, and C) it represents to victims and other citizens that there is a due course of law and that the system in place to protect their interests. Regardless of whether they are paid back by putting folks in prison is irrelevant, just cause for imprisonment still exists. I recognize that all of this is somewhat peripheral to the issue, but if someone begs a question in lieu of analysis I always bite.

All that said, I find Kobe fascinating. Is there a more likely/unlikely mirror for us to reflect on our own flaws and achievements than Bryant?

At 6/03/2008 11:20 AM, Blogger avery said...

...w/o going into all of the specifics of the posts, it's obvious that the rape case has an impact on the way we view Kobe. If it had gone the other way (i.e. a conviction) then we wouldn't be watching him play right now, and therefore it would've affected his legacy. The same with Vick right now, and in a lesser way, the same with OJ.

At 6/03/2008 11:23 AM, Blogger Wild Yams said...

@ Sweat of Ewing - It looks like R. Lobstah pretty well covered this, but your logic there only holds if Kobe did in fact rape that girl, and since that case never even went to trial I'm certainly not ready to just assume that he did. Like I said, the people who were most closely involved with what happened, and the two people who know the truth about what went on were both relatively satisfied with how it turned out, so who are any of us to try to make our own judgments about the situation?

@ 800# - You need to get your facts straight. Kobe's defense team weren't the ones who released the accuser's name, it was the judge in the case who accidentally leaked it to the press:

"The judge in the Bryant case had allowed the victim to use a pseudonym and ordered attorneys to protect her identity. But the same judge mistakenly released her name on the Internet and accidentally e-mailed court documents about her sexual behavior to the media! The woman's personal data was available to all of us on websites that published her name, photos, e-mail address and home address." link

"Although a judge had allowed a pseudonym and ordered attorneys to protect her identity, the Colorado court mistakenly released her name on its Web site and accidentally e-mailed court documents about her sexual behavior to media outlets."link

Looks like you'll have to find a new reason to hate the guy.

Speaking of that, I have no interest in trying to make people like Kobe, and don't care if they do (he's far from being my favorite player). I just think it is truly laughable how people manufacture the most absurd things imaginable to try justify (mainly to themselves) why they hate him, and how they will always try to deflect any discussion about how good he is on the court with crap like his facial mannerisms. Anything to avoid simply agreeing that he's a great player I guess.

At 6/03/2008 11:37 AM, Blogger ItTakesAThiefToCatchAThief said...

"Anything to avoid simply agreeing that he's a great player I guess."

No Atticus, that's not it. And to the rest of the lawyers, Stop. You're Extremely Bad Lawyers.

Colorado's a red herring. Rape/Slut/Butt, whatever. It went to court, he was found innocent, Done. This is America, not the backwoods of Arkansas. So let it go, Everybody.

But this idea that people "will do anything to not acknowledge his greatness" is Asinine because Everyone Knows he's the best in the game - except LeBron hypers, but they're deep in the rabbit hole.

But seriously....stop with the Lawyer shit. Fucking tired.


At 6/03/2008 12:03 PM, Blogger J said...

@800# =

If Kobe's defense team did do that (I have no idea about shield laws, or the intricacies of this case for that matter) you sure have a good reason to hate.... Kobe's defense team.

But I'm reasonably sure they weren't going to the professional athlete with no college education for legal advice... and it's interesting to see the image of kobe people have in their mind that they convince themselves he somehow was the mastermind of a scumbag legal manuever.

Kobe's Legal Team + leaked information from the case breaking rape shield laws = Kobe personally responsible??

At 6/03/2008 12:15 PM, Blogger Wild Yams said...

@ ItTakesAThiefToCatchAThief - Actually, it didn't go to court and he wasn't found innocent. The case was dropped before a trial began, due to the fact that the accuser refused to testify.

But you are right that the whole Colorado thing is a red herring. Like I said above, people already hated him before that ever happened, they've just used that whole thing ever since as their main justification for why they hate him, even though it's not really where their hatred comes from. What I said about how many people will use all this other stuff to avoid a discussion about his game is true though. They may give a cursory admission that he's great, but then they'll usually try to preempt a real discussion of his game by saying something like "Yes yes, he's a great player, but I hate him because his parents weren't poor and he grew up in Italy." Fredrik deBoer's comment above is a prime example of this.

At 6/03/2008 1:10 PM, OpenID BigSaxmo said...


I get why we are supposed to ignore Colorado, but can we really ignore this?

At 6/03/2008 2:35 PM, Blogger 800# said...

So I have forever damaged my credibility and the credibility of Bryant haters. Shoot. I got the details mixed up, and yes the judge did improperly release the information.

However, the actual legal damage to rape shield laws comes in the form of his teams pressure for and eventual decision for the allowance of the plaintiff's sexual history. Which I think was uncool. You can disagree though, maybe this isn't the right place for that chat.

What's interesting about what Wild Yams is saying is that regardless of that incident that "people" hated Kobe before Colorado. Maybe I did. That was before I became a liberated fan I suppose. Regardless of other people's feelings though, the situations with Mike Vick and OJ do seem pretty similar, and I think they do have something to do with how we perceive an athlete. Whether we are fans before definitely shapes the perception of the events (like the Lewinsky business). I don't think that means it can't be part of the discussion though.

The question for me is, do we need to see ourselves in athletes in order to be fans? If so, is Kobe what I said above, a mirror for individual fans that either produces love or hate?

Or... can we just celebrate his game? Is that really all that his fans are doing? It seems that message board Kobe fans are too emotionally invested to simply celebrate his mid range jumper.

At 6/03/2008 4:17 PM, Blogger astrobob said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 6/03/2008 4:20 PM, Blogger Kareem said...

800#: "However, the actual legal damage to rape shield laws comes in the form of his teams pressure for and eventual decision for the allowance of the plaintiff's sexual history. Which I think was uncool. You can disagree though, maybe this isn't the right place for that chat."

Please be patient for a moment while I relate an analogy. I work for a labor organization in northern California that provides, among other things, legal advice, advocacy, and pro bono representation to low-income people in my community. We have a lawyer who volunteers several hours every few weeks to see our members. Ostensibly he is a great guy in every way: caring, hard-working, liberal, and sympathetic to social change. But the nature of his profession does not always allow him to express the better qualities of his character. I'll give one example to illustrate this point. He gave advice to a member who had an issue regarding the worth of her mother's home (her mother recently passed away) and how to safeguard her share of the estate. She worried that her brother low-balled an appraisal of the home. The lawyer knew this game. He immediately suggested that she furnish her own appraisal, because he had represented a client on the other side of the fence before and "shopped around" until an appraiser 'legally' came with an estimate several hundred thousand dollars lower than the home's market value. He skipped a breath when he repeated this to us, because he realized the contradiction in this dishonesty. The truth is, lawyer are hired for one reason, and one reason alone: to win. As someone mentioned earlier, Kobe Bryant never went to college, spends most of his time playing basketball and advertising himself, and probably has little background in law and legal methodology/practice. These maneuvers are representative of his representation, not his person. As you said, this is a much bigger discussion about the problems with our "system" and is far beyond the scope of this conversation.

800#: "Or... can we just celebrate his game? Is that really all that his fans are doing? It seems that message board Kobe fans are too emotionally invested to simply celebrate his mid range jumper."

Have you ever watched Kobe? Have you ever marveled at his game, his footwork, his court intelligence, his shake and fade away jumper?

I know that I have.

Have you ever met Kobe Bryant? Have you ever spent three hours with him, talking about his family life, what his personal thoughts were on his infidelity? Have you asked him why he acts as he does in front of cameras? Have you asked him if he resents having cameras and fans surrounding him 12 hours a day, every day, even during 'family time'?

I know that I haven't.

We are sports fans. We gaze at these figures three hours at a time on the court and rarely off it. Am I emotionally invested in his jumper? In the Laker's success? In the community of fans I've grown up and celebrated basketball with?

Of course. I started watching during Divac, but there is a reason why I own several videos on the 1980's Lakers--I fucking love watching Worthy and Magic, even Kareem at the end of his career. What I'm really interested in is, why are you so concerned with the fringes of a celebrity's life, a life narrative you will more than likely never intimately know?

/Lakers in six

At 6/03/2008 6:16 PM, Blogger Wild Yams said...

@ 800# - Wow. You go out of your way to say that your dislike for the man is solely for this one reason, then when you find out you had your facts wrong, you still try to say it's Kobe's fault in some way that the judge slipped up in that case? I'd love to see you present some evidence that Kobe's attorneys applied "pressure for and eventual decision for the allowance of the plaintiff's sexual history" even though them asking for something they're not entitled to is not really something I can see justifying a dislike of Kobe for. Furthermore, as a result of that trial (and a couple others, like the Duke lacrosse trial) several states have in fact strengthened their rape shield laws, so your claim that they're somehow damaged or weakened is bogus, along with everything else you've said.

Yes, I said that people hated Kobe long before the Colorado incident. The guy was booed in his hometown while accepting the All Star game MVP award in 2002, a full 18 months before Colorado ever happened. The guy was always hated by a great many people; the only difference was that before Colorado the only things they could point to for why they hated him were the "he imitates Jordan" or "he is privileged and arrogant" nonsense. All Colorado did was suddenly make them feel like they were justified in their dislike for the man.

Are you really trying to compare Kobe to Michael Vick and OJ? Let me point out the big differences there: Vick confessed to his crime and is now serving time for it, and even though OJ was acquitted it was never suspected that Nicole Simpson or Ron Goldman faked their deaths for an out of court settlement from The Juice. In my mind it's equally likely that Kobe's accuser essentially blackmailed him with this rape charge so she could get paid as it is that he did in fact rape her. I'm sorry but I can't help but feel that a rape victim who would bring forth the issue like that would want to see her attacker behind bars, rather than just see herself paid. With OJ no other real plausible explanation for how those two people died was ever put forth and most people tend to think it's quite likely that OJ did do it. After all, Kobe hasn't written a book entitled If I Did It in which he details how he would have raped someone if he was to do it.

IMO, giving Kobe no more benefit of the doubt than you give to OJ and Vick says a lot about how truly biased you are in your feelings towards the man. It's no wonder you don't want to discuss how he plays basketball. My only question to you would be, since all your stated reasons for disliking him are based in incorrect assumptions on your part, where do your feelings really come from? Did he disrespect you personally or something? Are you jealous? What is it? I mean, after all, you never did read that Kobe is somehow directly responsible for weakening rape shield laws, so you clearly just made it up or misheard someone say that and latched onto it ferociously without bothering to see if it was right or not. Someone only does that if they have another pre-existing reason for hating someone and are looking for new reasons to hate them. So let's hear it: what's your real reason for disliking him?


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