The Black Mamba has no fear.
I don't know if Kobe Bryant has seen Jaws, but I'm willing to bet that he has.
I guess he didn't understand the movie's message: Sharks can eat you.
Statistically speaking, the average swimmer is extremely unlikely to be attacked by a shark. But if you just saw some sharks hanging around your boat, it would be courageous at best and colossally stupid at worst to hop in the water after them.
And yet that's precisely what Bryant did on one fishing trip off the coast of California.
Did anyone tell the Los Angeles Lakers about this?
Accompanied by Eric Avar from Nike, Bryant decided to go for an impromptu swim in waters patrolled by large pelagic fish, including friendly whales and man-eating sharks. At least it's not all bad.
Nike rep Heidi Burgett tweeted out a photo of the exhibit.
Kelly Dwyer of Yahoo! Sports supplied the larger version of Burgett's photo.
Daniel Buerge from Lakers Nation did us the favor of transcribing the text:
Avar witnessed Kobe Bryant’s alpha male personality firsthand on a deep sea fishing trip about 60 miles from Newport, California. “There are sharks, whales, dolphins all around, and he’s like, ‘If I jump, will you jump?’ I’m like, ‘Dude, we just saw sharks.’ He says, ‘Come on.’ No sooner do I say okay, he takes off his shirt and jumps. I literally grab my camera, and got this shot just in time.
We all know that Bryant drips with toughness on the court, as he has proven over 16 stellar seasons in the NBA, but hopping into the deep blue sea requires an entirely different temperament.
I know if I were a multimillionaire and future NBA Hall of Famer (admittedly, that's a big if), I wouldn't be taking any chances on becoming lunch for some peckish shark.
Is swimming with sharks a bad idea?
Now, there's no word on what species of shark Bryant and Avar had seen earlier that day, so perhaps they were just some cuddly blacktip reef sharks venturing out. I highly doubt they were great whites, but why even take the chance? Just go swimming in your infinity pool!
But Kobe is just brash enough to test the odds for the sake of a refreshing splash in the ocean.
There have been sightings of great white sharks near Newport Beach, as well as a fatal shark attack in 2008 at a nearby beach, according to the Los Angeles Times. A dozen people were killed by sharks in 2011, numbering among 75 attacks worldwide, according to Reuters, via the Telegraph.
But it's important to remember that Bryant is much more of a danger to sharks than they are to him. According to Oceana.org, "[F]or every one human killed by a shark, there are approximately 25 million sharks killed by humans."
Now, if we could only keep Bryant out of shark-infested waters for both his sake and the sharks'.
Perhaps someone should call up Robert Shaw's chilling monologue about the sinking of the USS Indianapolis to help convince Bryant to stay out of the water.
Maybe that can scare him straight.