Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Eight Is Enough

Well, I think the moon looked blue last night. And if it was, it's because it was so damn cold—25 degrees this morning, which is stupid for late March. March madness, indeed. And if you'd like another non-sequiter, I don't want to talk about my bracket (or North Carolina, for that matter). I'd also like to temporarily ignore the Knicks (although you can see my latest comments on that mess on SLAMonline.com today) and get to something I've been meaning to write about for quite some time.

That would be Kobe Bean Bryant.

Some of you are aware that I wrote the cover story on him for SLAM 97. Even less of you are probably aware that I wrote the cover stories on him for two issues of KICKS, interviewing him at length in two consecutive summers following the Lakers first two titles. One would think, based on all that, that I would have a pretty good grasp on who Kobe Bryant is, what he's really like. One would be wrong.

I had 3,000 words for this last story, and I feel like I couldn't have told the full story in 10,000. Since Kobe was good enough to speak at length, I felt his words needed to be printed, so that cut my own room for analysis in half. I got to most of my points, but there were a few things I didn't get to address. So I figured I'd do that here.

His tunnel vision, for instance. Or self-absorbtion, if you prefer. He seems to be able to put anything and everything aside in order to go out there and perform, which is equal parts admirable and creepy. It's how he could go directly from court in Colorado to the court in L.A. and score 40 and hit game-winning shots. Probably how he could co-exist with Shaq for so long despite their obvious lack of connection. But it's also how he can still be yelling at his teammates on the court for mistakes, rather than waiting until they were back in the locker room. Instead of correcting in private, he does it in front of the coaching staff, the opponents, the TV cameras. One gets the feeling that this isn't Phil Jackson approved behavior (although one also gets the feeling that Phil, like Larry Brown, may be content to just cash the checks at this point).

There's also the rather hard-to-ignore matter of his taking so many goddamn shots. It's obvious that he doesn't trust his teammates much, if at all, and feels as he's the best option every time down the floor. This may indeed be true. But it's not the way you win in the long run. Michael Jordan was certainly the best option every time down the floor for the Bulls, but he didn't start winning championships until he started to trust role guys like John Paxson and Steve Kerr (not to mention bigger cogs like Scottie Pippen and Horace Grant).

I'm too distracted by "Team America: World Police" right now. More tomorrow or tonight.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Hell Freezes Over

Quick, what's more shocking—the fact that there's an update here, or the fact that the Knicks have won two straight? Take your time, I know it's a tough one.

OK, not that much time.

So this week I saw the second-most disgusting thing I've ever seen in an NBA locker room. The first-most disgusting thing I've ever seen in an NBA locker room—one that is likely never to be topped—was Anthony Mason conducting interviews buck-ass naked. What barely beat out Damon Jones's bare feet for second was this: Kings center Brad Miller with a pinch of mint Skoal (the blue can) in between his lip and gum, spitting tobacco juice into an empty Dasani bottle. Not the most flattering habit, as habits go.

More later—I just wanted to get something new up before Lang made fun of me.