Thursday, June 04, 2009

Nice to Meet You #18 - Kobe Bryant

When it comes to all the NBA’s superstars, Kobe Bryant is probably the guy I know least well. If we’re being honest about it, Kobe couldn’t pick me out of a crowd of three people. Upon being asked, “Which of these three somewhat overweight, yet curiously attractive white twentysomethings is Joel Brigham?” he wouldn’t even know where to begin. If he did actually get it right, it would be due to the “curiously attractive” hint. But name alone? Not a prayer.

So what gives me the gumption to write a “Nice to Meet You” blog about a guy that I’ve only technically “met” twice—both as one of about 25 media members shoving microphones in his face? I don’t know. He’s Kobe Bryant and the Lakers are in the Finals again. I’m trying to be topical for cripe’s sake. Give me a break.

I can say this about Kobe—he walks, talks, and acts like he’s spent his entire life trying to emulate Michael Jordan. You don’t believe me, watch this YouTube video. Beyond the game, though, he has the same sort of cocky smirk and smooth, charismatic baritone. The swagger is similar, the facial expressions are similar, there’s just one thing…

This man ain’t no Michael Jordan.

Here’s the thing about Bryant that’s always bothered me: he’s actually seems like a really cool dude to be around, but when you talk to him you get the impression that he only seems that way. Does that make sense? He’s so great in front of a camera—very patient and friendly—but I have no idea what he’s like behind the proverbial curtain. Somehow you get the feeling that it’s all a show.

But it’s mean of me to say such things considering he’s never been anything but nice to me and the people I work for. I’ve got a number of Kobe-bashing friends who would have me skinned for apologizing, but I’m just not the kind of dude who wants to see Kobe suffer. Truth be told, I’d love to see him win a Shaq-Free ring this month. I really would.

He’s arguably the greatest player of his generation, so who cares if he’s actually nice or only pretending. It’s still Kobe, and if he asked me to party with him, I totally would. So what if that invitation will never come? At least I’ll always be curiously attractive.

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