Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant fractured his nose during yesterday's NBA All-Star game in Orlando when the Miami Heat's Dwayne Wade fouled him hard during the third quarter of the West's 152-149 victory over the East.
However, if Bryant was going to suffer an unfortunate injury in this annual meaningless NBA game, too bad the 14-time NBA All-Star didn't bite his tongue instead, thus rendering him speechless for a time...like for the rest of the NBA season!
As the growing legions of NBA fans, I am also growing weary of the biting, brash burble unbecoming of this global athletic icon.
Arguably, Bryant is the game's finest finisher and ranks among the top ten players of all time. But, his constant bickering of officials, unnecessary belittling of opponents, and boorishness, once again, outside his marriage and overall bumptious behavior have grown tiresome.
Kobe's less than enthusiastic response and apparently envious reaction to the media frenzy surrounding New York Knicks' Jeremy Lin's improbable rise from anonymity to NBA darling appeared to rankle the self-absorbed Bryant.
And, yesterday's snarky, screaming dare to an incredulous LeBron James to "shoot the (expletive) ball" during the closing seconds of a ceremonial and generally unimportant basketball game roiled me and the countless others who desire so much more from this magnificent player and five-time NBA champion.
How ironic that the new Nike Kobe System 7 television commercial aired repeatedly during this weekend's NBA All-Star coverage. In the satirical commercial, Kobe counsels the self-empowerment guru Tony Robbins' coached mogul Richard Branson on achieving success upon success upon success.
After a smug dissertation in this Nike sneaker ad, Kobe quips to the Billionaire Branson that he could do better and says, "good luck, Richard Branson, make me proud."
Well, how fortuitous and poetically appropriate that this tongue-in-cheek Nike ad would air during the NBA All-Star weekend when Bryant's every word and move, past and present, would be scrutinized. The Kobe System 7 commercial is far more poignant that any casual observer could easily overlook.
Kobe's very own words directed at Richard Branson should more importantly be speaking to him. The splendidly talented shooting guard may have exceeded all of our expectations for what he has accomplished on the basketball court during his stellar 14-year career.
However, basketball fans would agree that Kobe Bryant should listen to his very own, playful admonishment of Richard Branson. Because the future Hall of Famer could also do better, much better, in how he comports himself off the court with the press, teammates, opponents and women, most importantly, his estranged wife.
So, go ahead, Kobe. Do better, much better, off the court.
And, make us proud of you, not only as a 14 time NBA All-Star, but more importantly as an influential, socially relevant global role model whose every word and action, both on and off the basketball court, are watched.
Impressionable fans are carefully watching.
Straight talk. No static.
MIKE—aka Mike Raffone—the ultimate talking head on sports!
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