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February 25, 2003

I hate Kobe Bryant

The fact that Kobe Bryant has scored 597 points in the last 13 games is not the point, or rather, to put things another way, the fact that Kobe Bryan has scored 597 points in the last 13 games is the point. There's no denying that this is more points than I, Hildegard von Bingen, have ever scored in an NBA contest.

The prosecution intends to prove that it is a frigid-yet-unctuous apathy, a near-solipsistic egoism, that condemns the young superstar, regardless of his scoring records. We suggest that not only has the 45 points per game average not redeemed Mr. Bryant, it has swept him into a dinged-up metal dustpan of crappiness. There is no record of Kobe Bryant ever saying anything interesting to the press. No Kevin Garnett, he. Kobe has been too uninteresting, too self-involved to even search for an exit from his crappy, rusty dustpan.

Kobe Bryant has infiltrated a now-defunct prison, abducted a group of innocent NBA-fan tourists, and threatened to launch Jonathan Bender-sized chemical weapons at the unsuspecting inhabitants of The NBA Used To Have Good Heroes City, CA.

Consider, though, the ins and outs of the comparison between Ed Harris (as military defector Francis X. Hummel) and Kobe Bryant. In Hummel, we have a passionate man whose commitment to a just cause--the protection and compensation of families of deceased cloak-and-dagger soldiers, as I recall--drove him to dire straits (namely, launching missiles filled with little green orbs that kill you if you live in San Francisco/are one of the two protags' female loved ones), whereas in Bryant, we have a devotee of no cause other than the National Association for the Improvement of Kobe Bryant (NAIKB).

To review, then. Kobe Bryant is like a domestic biochemical terrorist, but more selfish. Let's just keep that one in the hopper for a minute.

It's a sad era in basketball, this era, wherein the pro-level competition takes a back seat to the veritable hurricane of controversy surrounding the NBA's next superstar and messiah, the inimitable Mr. Teen America, LeBron James.

We have a real bone, like from an actual animal that died, to pick with young Mr. Bryant: Average age of first-round draftee in NBA of circa 1957: 43. Average age of first-round draftee in 1990: 23. Average age of LeBron James: 17. Average age of first-round draftee in 2060 (before world ends): 49 (IN DOG YEARS!). Gosh, this era is really sad and terrible and whatnot. The way things were is inarguably the way things should remain/revert. As Spinoza once opined, professional basketball is a prism of the human condition. American society is just. Basketball, in an heliocentric universe, must reflect that, only upside down. A high school education simply does not prepare our young men and women for the triangle offense. Who could possibly be responsible for this unfortunate era, this cultural cotton that prevents us from hearing the searing gravy of truth avalanching down this terrible matterhorn? What gaunt, miserable boatman poled us across the River Styx to this island of oblivion? Doesn't anyone even have a guess? Who could it be?

It's hard to understand how Kobe Bryant is more responsible than his partner in juvenile basketballer crime, Minnesotan hero Kevin Garnett (the man often blamed for ushering in the new era of grade-school-to-NBA leaping) for the decline of Western Civilization. We can all agree that in Kobe and KG, we can pick out the point men for the epoch of third-trimester fetuses getting four-year contracts. You, the reader, may need to familiarize yourself with Mr. Garnett's life in letters, particularly a speech delivered this past November to assembled members of the press, before you can understand why Kobe must shoulder the bulk of this blame:

Said Garnett: "In compared to the past, in Minnesota with Jordan, yeah, I'm a little surprised. But nowadays, with snipers and bin Ladens running around, don't really [anything] surprise me anymore. Kind of messed up to say, but . . . Somebody told me they seen a flying monkey. There [are] flying monkeys, too. Flying squirrels and all kinds of [stuff]. Doesn't nothing surprise me these days."

The issue here isn't, as KG has put it, the dearth of surprises in contemporary society--we still see the occasional 770-pound moose fall out of the sky and onto our national windshield, if you want my opinion--but instead the commitment to social change. So chagrined was our beloved All-Star MVP 2003 at receiving word of flying monkeys (and fish, and terrorists) that, according to summer reports, he released a Chinatown-purchased snakehead fish into the American wild in hot pursuit. Possessed as he was of the snakehead's unique talents (for a fish) of eating everything in sight and of walking on land, KG saw an opportunity to eviscerate an existing social ill, and took it. We can hardly say so much for the cold, apathetic Kobe, who sits in his closed-off mansion, a ripe, virile 24-year-old with nothing better to do than practice his tepid Italian and pay the maid to press his fresh-off-the-catwalk white uniform.

With Garnett and his social visions off the hook, we have only Kobe Bryant to blame for the recent maelstrom of (LeBron) Jamesian muckraking. Forget everything you've heard; it was Kobe, not David Stern or contemporary America or the snakehead fish, who brought you this long winter of inane bickering over gift-giving and amateur status. What control could LeBron James have had? He can't even vote! No sir, it was Kobe. We haven't forgotten that, Kobe. We're not helping you out of your dustpan.