I never liked Kobe. As a hardcore Philly sports fan, I never liked the whole storybook tale of the suburban Philly wunderkind who gleefully returned to shove it in the faces of the hometown crowd during those thrilling Iverson/Larry Brown years. The heavy rotation of him starring in those Nike ads during the 2001 NBA Finals versus our Sixers further exacerbated my ill will toward the Lower Merion PA high school phenom.
Apparently, some people on his own team have harbored a dislike for him as well. Heck, I suppose no one likes every single one of their co-workers. Shaq and Kobe worked together successfully, but I assume weren’t exactly best buds. And then there’s the latest TV appearance by former Utah Jazz (and Laker for a short time) power forward, Karl “the Mailman” Malone. Supposedly, there’s bad blood between the two superstars ever since Mailman acted inappropriately towards the “Magic Mamba’s” spouse. Malone suggests settling the score if need be in the manner of the classic TV Westerns– bare knuckles out behind the barn, the General Store, Miss Kitty’s Saloon, whatever. I’d imagine plying your trade many a year within view of Utah’s splendid Wasatch Mountains on the great American frontier works on a man’s imagination in dramatic ways.
Personally, I’d like to see these things settled in a more entertaining way, in a manner considered more “old school” in the days of my youth. During the 1970s, the NBA needed some innovative sponsored filler programming during game half-time telecasts. They came up with a fascinating one-on-one playground style elimination competition for prize money and a trophy sponsored by a hair tonic company. Here’s a few minutes of video featuring the legendary Bob Lanier! The NBA no longer does this, although events like “street ball” style 3-on-3 half court tourneys still happen all over the place. After all, near seven-foot millionaires won’t risk rupturing an Achilles these days for a bag of 15,000 dollar bills and a trophy. But heck, with Kobe’s playing days rolling along to their inevitable curtain call and Malone already out of the game, perhaps this could kick off an NBA Senior Tour! It worked really well for the likes of Lee Trevino and Chi Chi Rodriguez on the Senior PGA Tour, why not for some still physically active legends of the hardwood? Heck, I’ve seen some pretty intense wheelchair basketball, if it were to come to that even.
And so gentlemen, find a sponsor to pony up (ah, a game of H-O-R-S-E, even) some big money for charity, and get to the court (or half-court as it were) to settle things “old school”! Maybe even get Judge Judy or Judge Brown to work as celebrity officials. Make it so. Hoop it up, gentlemen!