6.06.2008

Roseanne Is Watching



Never, ever sleep on Dr. LIC's post from this morning. My Boston hate is wearing me out, so suffice it to say that synthetic drama and that city are strange bedfellows.

I spent a while during last night's game thinking about money in the NBA. Specifically, money and Kobe. Say what you will about Bryant, but admit it's fascinating that he's worth hundreds of millions, and just doesn't seem like he'd care about it all that much. He bought that helicopter, to save time on his commute to the gym. And I'm sure Vanessa burns through a good deal of his paycheck.

Think about it: From what you know of Kobe, does he seem like someone with much interest in accumulating material goods? He's a megalomaniac, but for him, that all flows to and from basketball dominance. For someone supposedly so Hollywood, Bryant can be awfully tone deaf to celebrity. Even those Jackass spots, which are the closest he's come in years to any kind of pop culture relevance (or least transcendence of the sports world), are all about him the master athlete. Thank god martial arts are in fashion.

Garnett's low-key flashy, has a crew, etc. The Celtic that interests me most on this front is Allen, he of the art collection and interest in cooking for himself. I'm sure he lives a comfortable buppie lifestyle, but I can't quite see him lamping like a multi-millionaire. He seems a little too sensible, tasteful, and discreet, arguably his biggest flaws as a player (or why he's been neglected). I'm guessing Ray Ray likes to travel, and that art don't come free. But as with Kobe, for some reason I don't see him pushing much past a single, slightly customized Benz.

This is largely speculative, and I hope someone will pop up to prove me wrong. That or we can spend the rest of this afternoon having fun with this.

You should also read my column on Beasley, who is rapidly becoming a major force in my life.

And I'm finally reading Breaks of the Game, which is cool if a little preachy. I did, however, learn about this guy Howard Slusher, an agent and Buber scholar who wrote a Buber-esque book on sports. Amazon's messing with me, so here's a JSTOR link to something else he did.

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22 Comments:

At 6/06/2008 3:58 PM, Blogger sara & weston said...

I know Kobe likes the Aston Martins, but still I get your drift. One gets the feeling that he would still be working on his turnaround jumper over the left shoulder 2 hours a day even if he was playing for change. All the millions just make it easier to get away with.

 
At 6/06/2008 4:06 PM, Blogger Dan Filowitz said...

This post led me to imagine that Phil Jackson gave out copies of "I And Thou" for the team to read.

 
At 6/06/2008 5:50 PM, Blogger Hallamore said...

Wow. I and Thou makes for an oddly nice way to read (after the fact) the way that the breakup of the Laker phil/shaq/kobe family went down. Maybe also a way to read the false history of these finals as a laker/celtic matchup of old. A paraphrase probably: 'The world wants to be deceived. What we are dealing with now is a hierarchy of deceptions.'

 
At 6/06/2008 6:17 PM, Blogger Derek Harper said...

I was working last night and I'd really like to be able to watch the complete game, anyone know any place that offers that service?

 
At 6/06/2008 6:53 PM, Blogger Fredrik deBoer said...

Okay, here's my Ray Allen story.

Ray Allen's wife is from my hometown, and her mother still lives in town. Rumor has it he has a house in an adjoining town; you may have read about some controversy with him and an unpaid gym membership or something in my hometown area.

So I Am Legend comes out, and it's one of those nights at the movie theater where it's so crowded you have to sit next to a stranger. The movie starts, though, and there are three empty seats to my left, so I was pretty jazzed. Ten minutes into the movie, though, Ray Allen walks in with his wife and, I guess, one of his wife's girlfriends. He sits down next to me and asks "What'd I miss?" So I filled him in.

Allen's wife and her friend gab through the entire movie. About a half hour after arriving, he drops his cellphone on the floor. Now, Ray Allen isn't big for the NBA, but he's still a large human by normal standards. And his attempts to find this cellphone in the space under and in front of his seat, in the tiny little seating area and without disturbing the people behind him, was just kind of a sad sight. I tried to help him as he used the light from his Blackberry (maybe it was a PDA) to try and find his cellphone. Finally he found it, to my great relief. Something about this big guy with incredible grace on the court trying to maneuver unsuccessfully in this little space stressed me out.

The rest of the movie he kept making these little asides and comments to me. At first I thought he was talking to his wife, but she and her friend were deep into themselves and he wasn't even really sitting close to her. Honestly it probably looked to an outside observer like he was with my group, not theirs. Anyway he kept making these little jokes, like saying "Got em!" everytime Will Smith killed a zombie, or "Pow!" or "Oh shoot!" And eventually the movie ended and we left.

I don't tell that story often because there's nothing particularly interesting about it to most people, and I hate to sound like I'm telling some "the time I met this celebrity" story. But it had a big impact on me. I remember hearing on a Bill Simmons podcast, Matthew Berry (the fantasy guy) saying that Ray Allen was an inherently unlikable person. People have said lots of things like that recently. It bums me out. I was kind of touched by my impression of the guy; there was a clumsiness, a social unease and a fundamental sense of loneliness to him that has really colored the way I perceive him since.

 
At 6/06/2008 10:49 PM, Blogger Mark Scott said...

From Slusher article:

"Who but contemporary Americans could have designed a sport in which status changes so quickly that no lead can be considered commanding until the last few seconds of play, and in which the officials run back and forth like agitated ferrets looking for breaches of regulations?"

 
At 6/07/2008 1:22 AM, Blogger Dr. Lawyer IndianChief said...

That Ray Allen story is highly surprising.

 
At 6/07/2008 1:37 AM, Blogger Martin said...

The fascinating thing about Kobe's financial excesses is how they deviate from the generic multi-millionaire athlete displays of wealth. Kobe is not out there making it rain like PacMan Jones or Money Mayweather neither is he throwing D’z on his Cadillac and joining Shaq’s King of Bling tour like Dwayne. Kobe’s acts of financial bravado (at least those I know of), come across as cunning and calculated rather than brash- whether it is a matrimonial bribe of a $4 million dollar ring or just simple a joust for Cristal supremacy, they all seem to have deeper psychological underpinnings. Even Kobe’s acts of gratitude appear to have ulterior motives. When first I read about Kobe splurging on his teammates, it came across as less of a show of thanks and more of a psychological ploy. A subtle reminder of Kobe’s status and role on the team as the undisputed pater familias that justly rewarded his underlings, but along with the power to provide came the power to taketh away. Yes I know I may be reaching with assertion that Kobe’s largesse was a disguised power play. However, if Shaq with his presently eroded abilities was a member of the current LAL team, I would find it hard to envision a scenario in which the Big Ego lets Kobe buy him gifts and dinner followed by Shaq leading the other members of the team in a fawning chorus of MVP chants for Kobe.

Also I think their different relationship with money is a key dichotomy in Kobe and MJ’s characters. MJ seems self-assured in his G.O.A.T status and would unapologetically win $100K in a poker game with a rookie making the league minimum, or readily accept that the rookie pick up the tab for the whole team’s dinner expenses. Let’s not forget that we are talking about the same notoriously cheap MJ that angrily slapped away Barkley’s hand to stop Chuck from giving a homeless man some change. Jordan’s defiant justification was, "If he can say 'Do you have any spare change?' he can say 'Welcome to McDonald's, can I help you please?'".

In contrast Kobe seems to utilize money as a tool to assert hegemony and would therefore balk at the thought of a lowly rookie picking up his tab. One of Simmon’s recent articles references Phil’s tell-all book which describes Kobe’s dislike for Shaq as partially driven by realization that the Big Loafer would always make more money than Kobe under the CBA rules. To be crudely presumptuous- MJ is the type of guy that would expect his teammates to BUY HIM dinner and expensive gifts for clinching the league MVP and as a sign of gratitude for the championship rings won riding MJ’s coattails.

Ray Allen the smooth-shooting guard as an avid art-collector speaks to a link between basketball persona and financial decision making. In that line of reasoning I imagine Paul Pierce as a low-key spender, driving a Chevy Impala (reppin’ Piru Cali) despite being on his second max contract. Of course unsurprisingly, KG, the hyperbolically intense, ubuntu engine seems like the guy that would make outsized charitable contributions . All this of course is highly speculative and based on the very limited insight we can get on the players financial decision making.

 
At 6/07/2008 9:22 AM, Blogger Trent said...

In ten years I see Ray Ray in a black turtleneck muttering to himself in hushed tones at a gallery opening "I might not know about art, but I know what I like." And meaning it. And that's why I love him.

 
At 6/07/2008 12:01 PM, Blogger Harris said...

Its inconsistent to say that Kobe doesn't care about accumulating wealth when we consider that he tries so hard to be publicly likable. If all personal accounts of Kobe indicate that he is consciously arrogant, besides making bank, what reason could he have for fake laughing and seemingly candid youtube marketing campaigns? I definitely think he defines himself, on some level, by his wealth. Just because he doesn't make it rain, does not mean that he does not want people to see him as enormously wealthy (triple negative!)

Kobe did have a comfortable upbringing though. I mean, he doesn't appear to have the same drive to make money as those athletes who make it and publicize it as a response to never having had it.

 
At 6/07/2008 12:27 PM, Blogger Graydon said...

I think everyone is right to distinguish Kobe from the "make it rain" types, but I disagree, Harris, that Kobe tries so hard to be publicly likable.

The best way to endear yourself to Americans is to appeal to the consumer in them, and the deficit of mainstream ads featuring Kobe leaves him a surprising distance away from the average American's affections. The viral advertising on youtube hardly amounts to a serious campaign on his part to be portrayed as a likeable guy.

If anything I think he's caught in the crossfire of being the best player in the NBA and subsequently needing to be its universal star and being one of the more divisive figures in the NBA and therefore being unable to be its universal star (resisting the urge to slip into "jordan" discussion").

 
At 6/07/2008 12:40 PM, Blogger Harris said...

Let me clarify my thoughts. I think most people want to be liked; that's why, in part, people do things like acting nicely to one another. Kobe, from what we understand about his private interaction, does not seem to care about how other people perceive him (as a person not as a player). I'm reaching a little bit in arguing that assholes don't act so as to be liked. But there really is such a dichotomy between private and public - candid and guarded - Kobe. The only explanation, it seems to me, is to make money. This is true even without claiming that he tries "hard" to be a profitable sponsorship opportunity.

 
At 6/07/2008 1:28 PM, Blogger FunWithLogic said...

Can an intern or someone into stats PLEASE look at every comment made on FD this season too see which people / teams have been commented / blogged about the most?

TMac and the Suns would be pretty high, but Kobe would get like 25% of all comments from +/-8% of the blog posts. No critique here, but it's really amazing that one person out of so many spectacular players is so much more inspiring as a subject than any other.

 
At 6/07/2008 6:13 PM, Blogger Abe said...

Ray used to come into the Jimmy John's that my buddy managed. Friendly, nice, mellow, rollin' solo. His wife was super bitchy.

 
At 6/08/2008 12:28 AM, Blogger karma said...

I think everything Kobe Bryant does is either blown out of proportion or simply overanalyzed. People expect so much of the guy that it's hard for him to do ANYTHING without people questioning "alterior motives". Leave the guy alone, Jesus Christ.

 
At 6/08/2008 3:17 PM, Blogger thug wrangler said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 6/08/2008 7:18 PM, Blogger Gregory said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 6/08/2008 9:37 PM, Blogger John said...

i know this is a desperate attempt to bridge the sports gap between no-mas and freedarko but the kelly pavlik fight last night left me no choice. i always believed suns > spurs, freedarko > substance, game > storyline.. but pavlik is the boxing tim duncan- perfect in every way. his stance, his speed, his guard.. he is a standing documentary of the word 'boxing'. who is the ball equivalent of the young man? chris paul.

 
At 6/08/2008 9:54 PM, OpenID tredecimal said...

@ 6:52 PM PST, fulfilling his FD season prophecy, Leon Powe(r) is finally getting his. 8 points in five minutes. well goddammit.

 
At 6/08/2008 10:21 PM, Blogger Jack said...

The officiating in this first half has been an absolute joke. 19-2 free throw disparity? They're calling a foul on the Lakers every time they come within 10 inches of a Celtic player. Whistles are ruining this game.

 
At 6/22/2008 5:56 PM, Blogger Bo said...

Kobe drives a Bentley convertible. I'm sure he has other cars, but the fact that he has one proves to me he's not above splurging to fulfill the image that he's cakin'.

 
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