FanPost

All About Kobe

It has been a long time since I made a fanpost here. Let me check… my last fanpost was 15 months ago!

Anyway, I decided to make this post to… make myself feel better. This lockout makes me sick. Literally. I mean whenever I let the fact that there is no NBA season soak on me, I feel nausea. As if I’ve been emotionally betrayed or screwed or something. Seriously.

Since one of the reasons I believe writing is for is for therapy, I decided to write…

So I write this fan post. A fan post on my basketball hero Kobe Bryant. I already wrote "Why I Look Up To Kobe Bryant" on my blog. In fact, if you have time, I suggest you read it. It’s a good intro or appetizer for this fanpost… or I’m just shamelessly plugging my blog again. Nonetheless, there are still plenty of things to say about Kobe.

Here are some:

KOBE IS BATMAN

Those who know me here are probably tired of me pointing this out. But really… Kobe Bryant is a real-life Batman! Tell me this Kobe’s reaction (or lack of reaction) here isn’t Batmanish:

Personally, as a comic book fan, I love Batman (he’s just second to Spider-Man as my favorite). He’s awesomeness and badassery personified. And Kobe Bryant has qualities that Batman has. Making him, also, awesomeness and badassery personified.

I first got the idea from a brilliantly written article by Daniel Buerge over at Laker Nation… It’s a Kobe vs. LeBron piece back in 2010, and it’s the best of such that I have ever read. Some highlights from the article:

- "LeBron James is a physical anomaly, a combination of brute strength and pure bodily dominance that is unlike anything we have seen before. Kobe Bryant has a regular sized physique and was not given outrageous physical gifts, but has propelled himself to legendary status using his wit, mind, and willingness to adapt to his surroundings. In this situation Bryant is the clear Batman representation while James will send Dwight Howard to the bench and don the Superman cape."

- "To begin this debate we will start with my personal favorite, Batman. Batman is a super hero that isn't, as he possesses no abnormal powers or abilities. He is in every sense of the word, a man. However, his mental quest for what he deems is right in unmistakable, and his brain ticks differently than anybody else's. His quest for vengeance comes from within, and this drives him to make an impact on the world. His determination allowed him to turn his otherwise normal body into a weapon. His relentless drive forces him to work harder than his opposition, so when his enemies are at the end of their rope he is just getting started. In his enemies mind, he is much more than a man, and this edge is created purely by the Dark Knight's mind.
"Superman is a completely different animal, almost literally. He is from a different planet and is immune to the perils that all humans face. He is untouchable in every aspect of the word, and other than small fragments of his home planet known as kryptonite, he is invincible. Superman possesses physical attributes that no other human comes close to, and is able to defeat his enemies with brute strength and overwhelming power. While I am not calling him a dumb brute, the fact is that Superman doesn't have to use knowledge or excessive mental activity to defeat his enemies due to his overwhelming physical presence. This is not to say that he is unable of such a feat, it is just unnecessary.

- "So, both players are great in different regards, and they represent each super hero quite admirably. James has been gifted with the physical dominance that allows him to not just go around his opponents, but over them. He can do things with his body that many of us deem other-worldly, and it is truly amazing to watch. Bryant on the other hand is a crafty veteran that uses his mind to motivate his body. He adapts to his surroundings, therefore forcing his surroundings to favor his game. James doesn't need to outsmart his opponents because he is such a superior athletic being, just like Superman. Bryant is continuously adding new tricks and gadgets to his utility belt, always trying to stay a step ahead of the opposition.
"Another strong similarity between each player and their respective super hero is the frame of mind that each features. Superman knows he is going to defeat his enemies using the gifts he was given, and James is the same way. You don't see LeBron James working on things like midrange jumpers or his post-up skills, because he doesn't need to use them most of the time. The Man of Steel clichés we are all familiar with, the one involving him jumping over buildings and flying through the air like a speeding bullet, all ring true when you see James step on the floor.
"The same rings true for Bryant, and his alter-ego Batman. Without the supernatural powers, Batman uses determination and constant vigilance to create his legend. He seeks experts from around the world to help improve his hand-to-hand combat, always trying to learn the latest tricks. Sound familiar? Remember this, last summer, fresh off his NBA Finals MVP award, Bryant called up Hall of Famer Hakeem Olajuwon to help him work on his post-up game. While most people in that position would be polishing their trophy and celebrating being the best basketball player on the planet, Bryant was already working to stay ahead of the opposition."

Really got me excited when Mr. Buerge made a connection between the comicbook idol and the basketball idol. And since then I’ve been an enthusiastic advocate of "Kobe is Batman" as much as I am an enthusiastic advocate of "when there's time to plan ahead, Batman can beat anybody".

Kobe Bryant is Batman in the NBA. Even Kobe himself says so…

BASKETBALL LIFE IN THE FUTURE

I think Kobe would go on playing basketball for a long time. Maybe even up to 40. I don’t think he would care playing past his prime, as long as he can play. He loves basketball too much.

I am looking forward to seeing – but not wanting it to be soon! – how Kobe would change his game in his twilight years. Will he make himself a pass-first playmaker? Or a Reggie Miller-type, catch-and-shoot, constantly-moving-without-the-ball shooter? Or a full time defensive specialist? Will Kobe be willing and happy to serve as a mentor to a rising superstar that would have the glory leading the team to a championship instead of doing it himself, like the case with David Robinson with Tim Duncan? Will he be willing to come out of the bench once again (and maybe win a sixth-man award in the process)?

And after retirement as a player, what’s the next step for Kobe? Basketball is in Kobe’s blood, so I think he would still want to be part of basketball action even if he is not playing anymore. Will he become a coach? Many have said that he has the aptitude of being a coach. And I agree. The man is a basketball geek. A basketball genius. A true student of the game. So he indeed understand the game greatly. But some say he won’t be a good coach since he would be tough and strict as a boot camp sergeant and will demand much from his players, expecting them to brutally work hard like he did. Of course, not all have Kobe Bryant’s discipline and toughness, so players won’t last under him. But I still like the idea of Kobe as coach.

What about GM? Maybe. But being a great player doesn’t necessarily mean being a good judge of talent. Ask Mike.

Personally, what I want Kobe to be after he retires as a player (aside from a coach) is to be an analyst. Here’s a glimpse of Kobe as an analyst when he was a guest at "Inside the NBA" back during the 2006 playoffs..

After seeing that, won’t you agree with me that Kobe is meant to be an analyst after retirement?

Whatever he decides to be after retirement, I hope he won’t be a basketball owner like Mike. I’m not saying he will be bad. I’m just uncomfortable with the thought.

KOBE KNOWS HOW TO HAVE FUN

Though Kobe has the Batman mentality and intensity in the basketball court, he does know how to loosen up and have fun. The fact that he’s such an intense competitor makes those times he’s relaxed and goofy more enjoyable. We can see these in the commercials he was in. Here’s my most favorite among them:

I love the fact that he guested in Sesame Street. The geek in me went ecstatic when I saw it.

He raps, too. He’s not extremely brilliant in rapping, but, hey, he’s having fun and it shows and it makes his performance good. Real good actually.

And, last but not the least, he has a wonderful family. Whenever he’s around them, the cold Kobe is replaced by a warm Kobe. Lovely wife. Wonderful daughters. Happy Kobe. If you read the piece I wrote I linked at the intro of this fanpost, I mentioned there how I wish Kobe would have another MVP season. One of the reasons is how I love seeing this during the season:

Which will culminate to this:

Adorable family.

But you know what? I'm kind of disappointed that there is no Kobe, Jr. (yet) that would inherit Kobe’s basketball genes. Sure, having a son wouldn't automatically mean he will have the same basketball powers that his father had (i.e. Michael Jordan and his sons)… BUT, still, what if a Kobe, Jr. does inherit his father’s powers?! Think about it.

KOBE BRYANT MADE ME LOVE DEFENSE

Audience of basketball – especially those who are naïve and don’t really understand the game – typically overlook the defense part of the game. Compared to aspects of offense – dunking and shooting threes and crazy crossovers and unbelievable passes – defense lacks flash. Unlike American football, where aspects of defense is easily appreciated as much as offense by its audience because offense and defense are both flashy.

I also use to have a lack of appreciation on defense during my early years of loving basketball. Yeah, I encountered stuff that preached the importance of defense like "defense wins championships" and such. But I never really quite fully grasped the idea. I was also aware that Kobe was one of the best defenders of the league – being a consistent All-Defensive Team selection through the seasons. But I was numb to that fact, taking it for granted with the same degree of apathy as knowing the fact that he plays for the Lakers. I was definitely more impressed with such facts like that he could do amazing dunks or could set explosive alley-oop plays.

Then it all changed because of one game. A game that made the fact that Kobe is an awesome defender dawn on me and made me fully appreciate and comprehend the awesomeness of defense…

First of all, let me establish how I consider T-Mac the closest thing there is (so far) to a Kobe Bryant-clone. He was, like Kobe, an awesome well-rounded offensive player and also had his legendary clutch moments (e.g. 13 points in the last 35 seconds to steal the win from the Spurs). And in this game, during the first half, T-Mac single-handedly torched the Lakers. Devean George was generally ineffective in stopping him.

In comparison, Kobe was quiet in the offense of the first half. But after the half, he went to gunslinger mode and shot the lights out of the Magic. But more than that, Kobe took over the defensive assignment of guarding T-Mac and neutralized him. Kobe won that game for the Lakers by performing brilliantly in both offense and defense.

And, oh, Kobe also had shoulder injury that time.

That game made me fully appreciate Kobe as a defender. And it made me appreciate playing defense more.

From then on, whenever I play basketball, I concentrate on defense. I’m no Kobe Bryant and I don’t have the skills and energy to concentrate both on offense and defense. So I chose defense because most would rather play offense. "Fine, let them take care of offense. I will concentrate on defense. If Kobe Bryant himself didn’t shy away from playing defense, who am I to do so?"

Fact: I was able to beat better basketball players than me in one-on-one because of my defense. These guys can dribble and drive and shoot better than me. But my defense can take away those fancy crossovers and moves. On the other hand, they don’t give much effort on playing defense, so I just make a simple jumpshot or a simple drive-and-layup to score. Defense won over offense. Anybody had the same experience?

I really love the defensive aspect of Kobe’s game. He shined the most as a defensive player during his stint with Team USA. I can still remember the awe I felt when he proceeded to shut down the player he was guarding during FIBA Americas and the Olympics. That’s why it pissed me a lot when the infamous Kelly Dwyer snubbed him when he wrote his "Top 10 Best Defenders of the Last Decade" piece (I still haven’t forgiven him). Objectively, Kobe is one of the best defenders that ever played the game. Even those in the basketball business think so. Prior the start of the past season, GMs voted him second (tied with teammate Ron Artest) as best defensive player, first as best perimeter defender, and second as on-the-ball defender. Unfortunately, objectively, I also think his selection to the All-Defensive First Team last season was undeserved (Does anybody have a good argument to refute this? I would appreciate to know that I was wrong, but I doubt it).

Here are some Kobe defensive highlights (unfortunately, there are only a few of them available in Youtube):

KOBE… AS A JERK…

Most of his career, Kobe performed the rolls of MJ (the go-to scorer), Pippen (doing what needs to be done for the team – whether to score, pass, or rebound – and the one defending the opposing team’s best player) and Rodman (the enforcer) simultaneously. Playing the enforcer role, Kobe needs to be a tough jerk sometimes. To show that nobody messes with him and his team. Sometimes, he even has to be a jerk to his teammates as well, to be able to motivate them to perform better.

As Long Ball Larry puts it:

"I like Kobe Bryant for the exact reasons most people hate him. He is a total douchebag to his teammates. If you make a mistake while playing alongside Kobe he is going to make sure you hear about it. He is a total douchebag to his opponents. He doesn't just want to beat you, he wants to rip your heart out, and eat it in front of your wife and kids. For the most part, Kobe Bryant is a total douchebag. So why am I his biggest fan? He wants to win more than anyone else in the game of basketball. He is by far the hardest working player in the NBA. He does not take a single night off. He plays through injuries that keep most players out for months. In a sport filled with underachieving superstars, I can not describe how incredible it feels to have my team's superstar care about winning the way Kobe does. I am not one of those Kobe fans who think he is as great as Michael Jordan, but I do believe Kobe is one of the 5 best basketball players to ever put on a pair of sneakers. Kobe may be a douche, but he is my douche."

Still, sometimes, it’s uncomfortable to see your hero being a douchebag.

Hmmm. If we interpret it as Kobe sending a message to Gasol to toughen himself up, it makes me feel a bit better since there is a reason to it. "Hey, Ga-soft! I’m a guard and I can floor your seven-foot self down???!!! Come on!"

FAVORITE QUOTES

There are still a lot of thoughts on Kobe but this fanpost is getting long already. Besides, I’m already feeling a bit better after writing this (Still, I pray a season is salvaged somehow with Kobe leading the Lakers to reclaim the championship). But, before I end this, here’s a list of my favorite Kobe quotes...

"Everyting negative - pressure, challenges - is all an opportunity for me to rise."

"I'll do whatever it takes to win games, whether it's sitting on a bench waving a towel, handing a cup of water to a teammate, or hitting the game-winning shot."

"I was just letting the shots fly. You know, I don't leave any bullets in the chamber."

"These young guys are playing checkers. I'm out there playing chess."

"I've always been comfortable as a kid growing up to think that when my career is over, I want them to think of me as an overachiever despite the talent that I have. To think of me as a person that's overachieved, that would mean a lot to me. That means I put a lot of work in and squeezed every ounce of juice out of this orange that I could. Hopefully, they perceive me as person who did whatever he had to do to win above all else. Above anything. Above stats. If they say that about me I'll be happy."

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