Our Guardian Angel
Special field report on another big time in big shoulder city, by the indomitable Brian Lauvray.
Late last week the opportunity arose for me to actually get to, you know, ask Kobe F*cking Bryant a few questions and for the rest of my life tell people that, "Yes, in fact, I have been face-to-face with a NBA legend in his prime." Naturally I jumped on the chance and today found myself driving a borrowed, early 1990s Pontiac through the blighted neighborhoods of Chicago's Westside on my way to the jointly (Nike/Foot Locker) owned House of Hoops where Monsieur Bryant was going to make a special guest appearance to premier his hottttttt new shoes named after his Philly high school. So let's cut to the chase:
Inside the mall/outside the House of Hoops: Hysteric throngs of teenagers (God! I hate teenagers), shoe heads, NBA junkies and confused parents/legal guardians all crowded around at what first seems to be an invisible force field but in reality, and on a closer inspection, is revealed to be a velvet rope. "Crap!" thinks my brain, "I'm 15 fucking minutes early and I'm already too late. 'Au contraire, feeble brain;' you know someone on the inside. Eureka." My Nike contact is informed by security of my arrival and Blam-O, Kobe is mere feet from my sweaty palms.
The Q 'n A: Kobe and some Chicago-area comedian, it's not Bernie Mac --this I know; are bouncing ideas and questions off one another. Topics include: his new shoes, "Why low top instead of high top?; the competitiveness of Kobe's daughters; Does he have anyone who he steps up his game to play against*; Who he likes to talk trash to? Manu. Shocker!
One Question Interview: After the question and answer session and the five lucky/depraved fans who have been waiting in line since Friday for the new Zooms and the chance to see Mamba get their hotttt new shoes signed by #24, I'm informed by my Nike rep that now is the time for me to go and talk to Kobe. His prickly handler explains that I have one question w Kobe. "Alright."
So there it was. I asked what I thought was an informed and decent question and brought the FD book to show off and proffer to Kobe. Of course, the prickly handler in his haste to usher me away and disassemble and pack up Kobe, demanded, "Are you giving it [the book] to us or what?" Anyway, Kobe is much nicer in person and definitely does seem to take himself so seriously when he's not on the court or in the scrutinizing lights of a sound studio with a Stu Scott on his jock. He's definitely very manicured in his demeanor, habits and way he handles himself.**
*Kobe claims no one, he just approaches every game/player the same way. The "Artest Game" in Houston at the start of March begs to differ.
**His handler took the book for him even as I was offering it to Kobe and Kobe's hand was outstretched...