by: Justin Walsh
Kobe. Dear Kobe. Of course it's you, who else would Phil send, who else could be trusted? I... I know it's a long way to the court, and you're ready to go to work... All I'm saying is wait, just wait, just-just-just... Please hear me out, because this is not an episode, relapse, fuck-up, it's... I'm begging you Kobe. I'm begging you. Try and make believe this is not just madness because this is not just madness. Two hours ago, I came out of the press room, okay, I'm running across the gate signs, there's a deadline waiting, I got exactly 24 minutes to get to the damned word-press and I'm dictating.
There's this, this panicked beat writer sprinting along beside me, scribbling in a notepad, eyes scanning the lines separating the text like that New York Times writer looking for excuses to call Battier the god of hoops because of some crackpot equation, and suddenly- she starts screaming & I realize we're standing in the middle of a cluster-fuck of ticket holding Laker fans, the flow of the horde has sped up, there's this wall of people rushing into our pathetic excuses for athletic builds- serious groups of sketch looking people coming toward us in a hastened gait, and I... I... I freeze, I can't move and I'm suddenly consumed with the overwhelming sensation that I'm going to be witnessing a 5-25 outing by you, I feel a shroud of that playoff series I've been attempting to block from my mind, the one where you air-balled 3 straight clutch jumpers...
It's in my eyes, when I blink it's etched on the inside of the lids. It's like a coating of despair and loss and... at first I thought, oh my god, I know what this is, this is some sort of... This is what it must be like to have been a Cavs fan during the Jordan over Ehlo era... This is some sort of guilt stricken panic attack, where I remember how the Cavs could say "Oh well there was a time we won before..." Then they are pummeled by replays on ESPN Classic of Jordan murdering the humanity of Ehlo with a shaky jumper that rattles in. Nobody remembers that, do they Cleveland? They forget the rattle- they remember the fist pumps, nay, the jerks of his fists like Helen Keller back in the day... That's what this is- I'm panicking because you missed a jumper last game. And I realize oh goodness, I'm being ridiculous- this will all be fine. But then my irreverent misplacement of sanity was drowned out by the movement of feet, the chatter, the cheers, the hustle and bustle of the cattle drive to the gate entrance. This is not realization of hope, this is some giddy illusion of reassurance that happens in the final moments before LeBron comes out of nowhere, much like in this rant, and blocks your jump hook against the glass.
And then I realize no... No, no, this is completely wrong because I look back at the building and I had the most stunning moment of clarity. I, I realized Kobe, that I had emerged not from the doors of the Los Angeles Lakers media room, not through the portals of our vast and powerful press area with the horde and the wi-fi... But from the asshole of an organism whose sole function is to excrete the... the poison, the despair, the air-balls, the reminders of bullshit perfunctory let downs, the ammo of dissent. The defoliant necessary for other, larger, more powerful rosters to destroy the miracle of a parade route in Los Angeles. And that I could have been coated in this patina of shit for the best part of my years as a basketball fanatic. The stench of it and the stain of it would in all likelihood take the rest of my life to undo. And you know what I did, Kobe? I took a deep cleansing breath and set that notion aside. I tabled it. I said to myself, as clear as this may be, as potent a feeling this is, as true a thing as I believe I have witnessed last outing, it must wait. It must stand the test of time. It must stand the career of a player with 3 NBA titles, an MVP award, and enough balls to give each testicular cancer patient an even set... It must stand the test of time. And Kobe, the time is now.
Kobe, score. Kobe, fucking humiliate him.
And after the thoughts left my mind, the game began. And sitting in my dark leather love-seat, it took all of 17 seconds for Kobe to score. and he scored again, and again. He scored 11 straight points. He scored 13 of the first 15. In the first half he had 18 points on 8 of 11 shooting. In the second half, he didn't just beat Brewer, he obliterated his dignity. When shooting guarded jumpers over outstretched arms got boring, he crossed Brewer over 4 times in a row, then picked up his dribble... Waited for Brewer to get close enough to tell the world what flavor of gum Kobe enjoyed, and pumped once... Pumped twice. One pivot, fade away jumper. Wet. And in that moment, I called my mom- she has no idea about the nuances of basketball - & I say to her, "Mom... Put Brewer on your prayer list, call your local city councilman in Dallas to fly the flag half staff, get his mother's contact information- you need to tell her to bake her son his favorite meal. I'll call the Jazz to get him a contract extension within the week. Have dad call the suicide hotline to have Brewer put on suicide watch in a hospital. Kobe Bryant just took his heart out and pissed on it during a live broadcast of an NBA game with millions watching."
And you know what my mom said? "Doesn't Kobe do that all the time?" And there it was, realized completely. LeBron may be the MVP. Tim Duncan may be the best player in his position in the history of the league. Chris Paul may very well be one of the best PG's ever. But Kobe Bryant is Shiva, the god of Death.
Note by the Author: While watching Michael Clayton, at the beginning there is a gorgeously insane ramble at the beginning. This entire post is basically my insane 5:00 a.m. rant to try and emulate that madness into a reflection of the emotions I felt just before Game 4 of the LAL/UTAH series, and what I felt during/just after. Obviously, I give credit of the idea to the movie Michael Clayton, but hopefully reading this, you notice my thoughts