Kobe Doesn't Really Expect Me To Believe He Studied Sharks And Seals In Preparation Of Guarding Iverson, Does He?
ThePlayersTribune (Kobe Bryant)- I obsessively read every article and book I could find about AI. I obsessively watched every game he had played, going back to the IUPU All-American Game. I obsessively studied his every success, and his every struggle. I obsessively searched for any weakness I could find.
I searched the world for musings to add to my AI Musecage. This led me to study how great white sharks hunt seals off the coast of South Africa.
The patience. The timing. The angles.
On Feb 20, 2000, in Philadelphia, PJ gave me the assignment of guarding AI at the start of the second half. No one knew how much this challenge meant to me.
I wanted him to feel the frustration I felt.
I wanted everyone who laughed at the 41 and 10 he put on me to choke on their laughter.
I'll be honest, I tend to lend Kobe Bryant more slack than most. I find the practice of someone giving themselves their own nickname to be insufferable, but somehow 'The Black Mamba' slithered through unscathed because it was the perfect representation of a cold blooded killer on the court. The change from #8 to one higher than Jordan was - objectively speaking - a petty, ridiculous move in hindsight, but in the moment I appreciated the spirit of it. I didn't even make fun of the concept of a "MuseCage", because - shockingly - I'm not familiar with the weird shit that someone uses to fuel a psychotic commitment to greatness in their field. I have always admired Kobe's drive to be the best so I have let him get away with some saying and doing some things that would be flat out laughable if they were said or done by literally anyone else.
I say that to say this. If Kobe thinks I am going to believe that he stayed up late watching 'Animal Planet' when he was 22 years old in hopes that witnessing the most vicious predator in the sea attack helpless seals would provide him some insight on how to play on-ball defense against a shifty 6'0 point guard then he's out of his fucking mind. We all have our breaking points when it comes to giving someone the benefit of the doubt, and this is where I draw the line with Mr. Bean Bryant. The ludicrous imagery of a young, cocky NBA superstar sitting in the public library reading up on the feeding habits of sharks as if they were somehow relatable to contesting a jump shot or anticipating a crossover is too much for me accept as reality. I'm sure Allen Iverson doesn't appreciate being viewed as a fucking seal, and I certainly don't appreciate being viewed as a naive consumer by a former basketball player who is retroactively insisting that he was playing AquaMan-to-man defense in the 2001 NBA Finals. I have no doubts that Kobe Bryant kept an insane regimen of physical and mental preparation, but I'm calling bullshit on it including him minoring in Marine Biology.