Kobe Bryant is intoxicating.
From the way he plays on the court to the way he conducts himself off of it to the way he ties his shoes, everything he does incites controversy. We are inherently drawn to him, and he doesn't just know it, he embraces it.
He uses it.
If there was ever any stake placed in the contrary, it has been quelled since the Black Mamba joined Twitter about two months ago.
By approbating the use of social media—specifically this form of social media—Kobe has offered us a level of transparency he never has before.
Gone are the days wondering what's going through Bryant's head after losses. Gone are the days where he would have to take to national television to dispel or confirm any and all alleged denotations. Gone are the days where Kobe's provocative essence is stymied through the confines of censorship.
Twitter has given us Bryant—all of him. Uncut, unexpurgated and thrilling as ever.
20. From Death Stare to Social-Media Savant
Bryant's first-ever tweet was polarizing, and we shouldn't have expected anything less.
He has never been as translucent as some of the game's other stars. He's always spoken his mind, but our insight into his psyche was limited.
He was "antisocial."
Suddenly, he became "social," to the tune of 50,000-plus re-tweets worth of intrigue.
19. To Pass, or Not to Pass?
Still toeing the lines of a serial shooter, Bryant had suddenly become an illustrious passer. But would such a tendency continue?
That very night, it did. Bryant dished out a game-high eight assists. He also scored a game-high 20 points.
Count on Kobe to mess with our heads.
18./17. Back-to-Back Gems
Given the volume at which Bryant hoists up shots sometimes, it's easy to assume he does so without a conscience or sense of regret.
But while Kobe has never encountered a shot he didn't like, he understands that he is not infallible; he makes mistakes.
As both a man and leader of the Lakers, he owned up to those aberrations.
And no matter how much we chide him for his decisions, there will always be one person who criticizes Bryant more than any of us ever will: himself.
16. Acupuncture Therapy
Just as we sometimes forget that Kobe is critical of his own decisions, we also forget that he's not 18 anymore.
As such, there's no pregame or postgame pepperoni pizzas and grape soda (spoiler) in his regime. Instead, he commits himself to various forms of treatment, like acupuncture.
Most would undoubtedly prefer the pizza and soda, but then again, they're not Kobe. He'll take the needles and championship banners over everything else any day.
Whatever it takes, indeed.
15. More Treatment
Seriously, I wasn't kidding. Bryant isn't a teenager anymore.
Some would consider acupuncture therapy to be more disturbing than sitting in a tub of ice, but just imagining what it would be like to soak in a frigid vat of water makes me cringe more than a few well-placed needles would.
That Kobe probably does this after every game is incredible; it embodies commitment.
Perhaps his "tub of youth" is also the secret to his success.
A Siberian-esque bath a day may keep the rigors of age at bay.
14. Kobe Does "A Christmas Story"
Why is it that I believe Bryant tried to lick a frozen pole on a freezing winter's day?
Well, because he's Kobe.
Couldn't you also picture him daring Smush Parker or Kwame Brown to do the same in hopes of punishing them for their Mamba-crippling performances?
I know I could.
13. Pizza Before the 81-Point Game?
The term "provocative" can be interpreted to mean many different things. All we really need to know is that anything of a provocative nature provokes a heightened response.
And if you weren't captivated by the notion that Kobe was digesting a pepperoni pizza during his 81-point game, then I'm not quite sure you should read the rest of this piece.
Usually, I would conclude the admitted perpetrator was kidding. Knowing Bryant, he probably was kidding; he probably ate at least two pizzas before the game.
In all seriousness (can we even make this serious?), dropping 81 points in a single game is no joke. Doing it on a full stomach is even more incredible.
Perhaps he would have broken Wilt Chamberlain's 100-point record if he wasn't weighed down by an excess of complex carbohydrates and saturated fats.
12. Kobe Addresses Dwight Howard Drama, Part II
Why Part II, you ask? Because Part I has yet to come, and it was far more polarizing than even this.
Much has been made of the relationship (or lack thereof) between him and Dwight, and Kobe has made it clear he just wants to play basketball.
He wants Howard to play basketball too. Just not at the expense of his long-term health.
11. Bryant Hisses
The NBA needs to mic up Bryant, like, now.
To say we're not surprised would be utter fiction. Mambas hiss, and so does Bryant. Logical? Yes. Even still, I really want to hear what it sounds like.
Can his teammates really hear a faint hiss over the sounds of a roaring crowd? Is it perhaps loud and threatening? Does he also hiss at referees when they make calls against him?
Nearly two decades into his career, and Bryant is still shrouded in a certain level of mystery.
Color me intrigued.
10. Life After Basketball
Bryant says that analysts overlook a lot of details, so I, by all means, would welcome his addition to those same ranks once he retires.
I could picture it now: Kobe schooling millions of uneducated fans, pundits and analytical peers alike on the art of fadeaways, rim-rocking dunks and how passing is (sometimes) overrated.
If this particular tweet is laced with even a shred of truth, the theoretical may, in fact, become a reality.
Let's just hope TNT's colorful crew locks him down before the far less interesting folks over at ESPN do.
9. Kobe in Boston Celtics Green
This particular tweet was provocative mostly because it was cruel.
Imagining Kobe donning Boston Celtics green is beyond painful for most Lakers fans. Actually seeing it is agonizing.
To think that death stare of his could have come in a Celtics jersey.
Five championships later, the Lakers faithful are forever grateful it didn't.
8. Gandhi Motivates the Mamba
It's not that we didn't consider Bryant a pensive person, but there are times when he just pulls a quote from the depths of dedication and we're just like, "Whoa."
This was one of those times.
Immediately after a gut-wrenching loss to the Denver Nuggets, Bryant took to Twitter in what had to be an attempt to motivate himself, his teammates and any fans who had given up.
That was Los Angeles' third consecutive loss, and Kobe (with the help of Gandhi) made it clear the Lakers would rise above it.
They went on to lose three more games in succession, but the message was clear. And it's one Bryant wouldn't hesitate to back today.
7. Bryant Frustrated...Still
While live-tweeting during the replay of his 81-point game, Bryant made reference to his look of frustration, an expression he had become all too familiar with only this season.
With the Lakers under .500 at the time (and still sub-.500 now), Kobe wasn't happy. His legacy has been built on winning, on persevering through adversity, not succumbing to it.
Until recently, Los Angeles' very existence was floundering. Void of an identity, clinching a playoff spot seemed out of reach, let alone contending for a title.
The narrative has since shifted in Hollywood (slightly), but I wouldn't hesitate to assert Bryant is still frustrated.
Winning satisfies his craving only temporarily. A few games here and there won't be enough to satiate his appetite for more rings.
In fact, the only way Kobe won't be frustrated is if the Lakers emulate perfection, and even then, that look of frustration would still be a fixture in Staples Center.
6. Shots Fired at David Stern
This was just great.
We all remember when NBA commissioner David Stern vetoed a trade that would have landed Chris Paul with the Lakers instead of the Los Angeles Clippers. Kobe, of course, took exception as if Stern was out to actualize a personal vendetta not just against the Lakers, but Bryant himself.
Stern's questionable discourse couldn't prevent Paul from teaming up with Bryant forever, though. The league's attempt to impede the Lakers' pursuit of an insurmountable super-team didn't apply to Chris' son.
Bryant is seen playing hoops with Paul's son and smiling. I'm sure he thoroughly enjoyed the experience, but I'm also inclined to believe this was a premeditated tweet, and that Kobe was smirking because he knew what he would do next.
That'll teach you to tangle with the Mamba, Mr. Stern.
5. Kobe Mocks Dwight Howard Saga, Part I
The way the media questions Bryant and Howard's loyalty to one another, you'd think they were engaging in boxing matches after practice in the trainer's room.
As it turns out, they actually are, though not in the way that some would have us believe.
In one swift tweet, Kobe dispelled the notion that he and Dwight were enemies, even if only for a little bit. He also proved that all the losing hadn't come at the expense of his, Howard or Mike D'Antoni's sense of humor, which I'd imagine is a good thing.
It's tough to really put the magnificence of this one into words; it was that legendary.
And here we are thinking that Kobe is all work, no play.
4. Whatever it Takes to Win
Almost 20 years into his NBA tenure, and Bryant is still misunderstood.
The misconception that he cares about his individual stats more than winning is simply ridiculous, and he'd even tell us that.
He actually did.
Kobe doesn't care if he scores 50 or five. He just wants a win, and he'll do whatever it takes to get that win.
3. More Motivation
What is it that drives Bryant?
The acupuncture therapy, the ice baths, the criticism and the brutal fallacies, he endures them all in the name of winning.
Much has changed over the last 17 years, but Kobe's will to win hasn't. Those banners are the purpose of his very existence. They're the reason he still plays, the reason he still navigates the arduous lifestyle of somewhat-resented superstardom.
That's never going to change.
Bryant's second tweet was one of his most provocative displays of social media to date.
Kobe is often considered a machine, someone who is impervious to self-doubt and the like. But he, just like any other person, is susceptible to self-imposed uncertainty.
While he is not immune to entertaining such thoughts, he is unique in his refusal to yield to them. Even at their worst, Bryant wouldn't hesitate to guarantee the Lakers would make the playoffs; he wouldn't think twice about his purpose in Tinseltown.
At a time when Los Angeles is still weathering the most destructive of proverbial storms, this sense of resiliency is as important as ever.
Kobe won't bow down to his physical limits or anything that suggests he and his team are done, and as a result, neither will the Lakers.
1. Amnesty THAT
On the heels of Mark Cuban suggesting the Lakers should consider amnestying Bryant, the Mamba torched his Dallas Mavericks for 38 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists on 13-of-21 shooting from the floor.
Slated to earn more than $30 million, some wouldn't consider Cuban's proposal to be so risqué. Bryant did, and the box score showed it.
He led the Lakers to a much-needed victory, embarrassing Cuban while also bringing his team within 2.5 games of the Western Conference's final playoff spot.
Everything about that game and this tweet is so Kobe. He doesn't slink away in the face of adversity or affliction; he spits in it.
Sometimes, if it feels right, he'll tweet at it too.