The hunger for NBA knowledge is insatiable, and nothing drives that point home like skimming through search engines to see the ridiculous questions people are asking about their favorite stars.
All we have to do is type "Why does Player X…" or "How does Player Y…" into Google or Yahoo and let the autofill results tell us what people are trying to find. It's all right there in the algorithm's autocomplete function, the ultimate internet snitch.
Bleacher Report has enlisted comedian Matt Lieb to help wrestle with these mysteries—largely because he came up with the idea for his stand-up, championing the "How come…?" game as a way to get a glimpse of what the internet-using populace really wants to know.
Here, we'll apply the same technique to questions about the NBA's biggest stars. In this edition, we focus on birthday boy Kobe Bryant, who turned 39 on Wednesday.
Autocomplete Question 1: Will Kobe Bryant...get a statue?
Matt Lieb: Are you kidding me, Google? I scoffed so much upon reading this question that my throat is sore. The question isn't "Will Kobe get a statue?" The real question is: Will Kobe Bryant be the most statued figure of all time? I say without a doubt, yes.
The current reigning champion of sculpted likenesses built around the world is Buddha, mostly because of Chinese food restaurants. That waving cat is most likely a close second. But given the proper amount of time and mythologizing of the great feats performed by the Black Mamba aka Thug Poet aka Kobe Bryant, I am certain future generations will start building shrines in remembrance of His greatness.
The following is a list of places where Kobe Bryant will eventually get a statue:
Staples Center — Because duh. I mean, Star Plaza has statues of Wayne Gretzky and Oscar De La Hoya, and no one's even heard of them.
Lower Merion High School — Kobe's alma mater, where during his senior year he averaged 30.8 points, 12.0 rebounds, 6.5 assists and took '90s-sitcom-star-turned-R&B-pop-sensation Brandy to his senior prom.
'90s Sitcom Star Turned R&B Pop Sensation Brandy's House — Of course Brandy has or will someday have a Kobe statue. It's not like she is anti-statue; she owns a Grammy which, if you think about it, is really just a gold-plated miniature gramophone statue. So it's not completely insane to imagine she would also own a purple-and-gold-plated miniature Kobe Bryant statue.
Inside the Grover Cleveland Presidential Library — Because Grover Cleveland was the 24th president of the United States and Kobe Bryant wore the number 24. Obviously.
The Statue of Liberty — Eventually, we're gonna get tired of looking at her. She never even won a dunk contest. And I believe Kobe is a more modern interpretation of what she represents. Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…and I'll posterize all of them.
Grant Hughes: I really can't dispute the reasoning here, Matt. If I have a criticism, it's that you haven't gone far enough.
Like, why stop at Brandy? That's easy. What about her sworn enemy, Monica? I think Kobe's mythic stature within late-'90s culture could result in his being the only thing she and Monica have in common, "The Boy" notwithstanding. Kobe statues could bridge the widest personal chasm of that particular pop music era.
Also, we know Kobe doesn't halfway compete. Once he's in the statue game, he's going full Mamba. That's bad news for Buddha's lead in the statue count. Kobe's going to make a run at Buddha by purchasing chains of Chinese restaurants and swapping in little potbellied versions of his own likeness.
Autocomplete Question 2: What is Kobe Bryant's...phone number?
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ML: Listen, Yahoo.com user base, if I knew the answer to that question, do you think I'd be wasting my time scouring the internet looking for sports content to write for the likes of you?
I'd be pages deep into a text message draft about how much I respect and admire him and how I don't think that Shaq was even a necessary component to the 2000-02 Lakers three-peat championship team and that we should hang out sometime and watch Kill Bill because I know he likes that movie a lot even though I found it to be one of the more self-indulgent Quentin Tarantino films and really blurs the line between pastiche and plagiarism.
I'm still currently writing this text message draft, just in case I ever happen upon his phone number. It's really hard to find.
GH: I like to think knowing Kobe's phone number is irrelevant. Because when he believes you're ready, he'll call you.
Bryant is a maniacal worker obsessed with getting a mental edge on his competition. Now that he's retired, he's not just competing with 29 other teams; that field has been replaced with roughly 7 billion non-basketball-playing civilians, which include you and me.
At some point, probably around 3:45 a.m. on a Tuesday, you're going to get a call from a blocked number, and it'll be Kobe saying, "Chump, I've already wrestled six Arctic wolves, written a sonata and shot 1,000 free throws with a straightjacket on. How are you preparing to dominate your enemies?"
It'll be a pretty one-sided conversation, but the point is: Nobody really needs his phone number.
Autocomplete Question 3: How Does Kobe Bryant...train?
GH: Listen, I don't want to hear about "Dad Bod" Kobe. We have to assume he has his reasons for being relatively unfit a year into retirement. Maybe it's because he's going undercover for some secretive, off-book mercenary strike force and has to look a little doughy to avoid being recognized. Maybe it's because his new passion is competitive eating. Or maybe it's to give you a false sense of security before he capitalizes on your complacency.
How does Kobe train? Easy. There are three answers.
1. With the blinding, luminous intensity of 1,000 suns.
2. According to ancient scrolls guarded by an undead army of samurai, whom he defeated in a tomb beneath a great mountain.
3. Harder than you, bro.
ML: By now, I am certain that readers have figured out that Grant and I are just joshin' around. Of course Kobe Bryant doesn't actually use a training regimen that he discovered in ancient scrolls after battling a slew of undead samurai guards. We're just playing. So in hopes of restoring trust with our readers, I will give a serious answer to the question of how Kobe Bryant trains.
Kobe Bryant famously uses the "666 workout," which has been widely publicized. For those of you unfamiliar, it consists of two hours of running, two hours of basketball and two hours of weightlifting, done six days a week for six months straight.
So 2+2+2=6 hours of training. Six days a week. For six months.
Hence: 666, which is the mark of the beast. Which is Satan. Who is the lord of darkness. Darkness is the opposite of lightness, implying black, as in Black Mamba. A mamba is a snake or a serpent, as in the serpent that fooled Eve into eating from the Tree of Knowledge in the Garden of Eden. And anyone who's read their scripture knows that the serpent is Satan.
So Black+Mamba=Serpent+Darkness=Satan=666, the mark of the beast. And the beast is Kobe Bryant. Hail Kobe Bryant.
GH: I was never a math guy, but I'm certain this checks out.
And there you go! All of the web-browsing public's most pressing Kobe Bryant questions answered.
Happy birthday, Mamba.
Follow Matt on Twitter.