The basketball world was absolutely floored Sunday when the L.A. Lakers' hopes of a three-peat came to a screeching halt.
The Lakers were swept by the Dallas Mavericks in a series capped by an embarrassing 36-point drubbing in Game 4.
Fans and analysts are pointing to several reasons for the Lakers' demise: age, poor perimeter defense, lack of focus.
But the prevailing theory is that Pau Gasol was distracted by the fact that his girlfriend broke up with him right before the playoffs started. To make matters worse, Gasol's girlfriend was apparently counseled and told to break up with him by none other than Mrs. Kobe Bryant.
Let's take a closer look at the woman who single-handedly took down the Lakers dynasty.
When Kobe Bryant was just 21 years old, he was working on his debut music album in a studio in Los Angeles.
Unfortunately, the album was never released (so we were deprived of genius like this), but something better happened: He met his wife, Vanessa.
Vanessa, then just 17 years old, was working as a backup dancer on the G'd Up video by the highly acclaimed, timeless rap group, Tha Eastsidaz (look closely and you can see her!).
The two began dating immediately and Kobe was even seen picking Vanessa up from Marina High School in Huntington Beach.
They were engaged six months later and married in 2001.
How could you not love a seven-foot millionaire who plays for one of the most storied franchises of all time?
Maybe Pau Gasol's girlfriend, Silvia Lopez Castro, was intimidated by his family (both of Gasol's parents are doctors and his brother Marc looks like Paul Bunyan), or maybe she finally realized how much Pau looks like an ostrich, but something made her have second thoughts.
Still, her mind wasn't made up until she sought the counsel of one Vanessa Bryant.
When a guy has a problem with his girlfriend, the extent of the conversation with his buddy is, "Hey man, can I crash on your couch tonight?"
Women, however, love to dissect every aspect of the issue until there is nothing left to talk about...and then talk some more.
Somehow, out of all the analysis that Silvia Lopez Castro and Vanessa Bryant conducted, the conclusion was that Silvia should break up with Pau.
I know you're thinking it, so I'll just say it. I don't know if Vanessa is the best girl to be offering relationship advice.
The rumors of Pau and Kobe's chemistry problems were initially dismissed as pure fabrication. When asked about it during the catastrophic Mavs series, Pau called the reports "lies" and said that they made him sad.
Afterwards, however, Pau has changed his tune a bit, as quoted by Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times:
"I have to learn from this. I have to learn that when something happens off the court, you have to keep it off the court."
It's unclear what Pau is referring to specifically, but it's apparent that something was bothering him. It seems unlikely that the reports of the girlfriend/Kobe Bryant problems are purely coincidental.
If this story sounds familiar, that's because something almost identical happened in 2004. You can read the whole story here, but here are the highlights:
- Vanessa Bryant asks Karl Malone, in reference to his cowboy boots and hat, "Hey, cowboy, what are you hunting?"
- Malone replies, "I'm hunting for little Mexican girls."
- Vanessa Bryant, who is half Mexican, takes this as flirtation and decides to call Karl Malone's wife, Kay, to tell her about it.
- Karl Malone publicly criticizes Vanessa for interfering in his marriage.
- Kobe/Malone chemistry problems ensue.
- Karl Malone retires two months later.
You'd think after all that, Vanessa would stay out of others' relationships.
When a woman seeks the advice of a girlfriend, she should make sure the woman is of sound mind to make an objective decision based on fact.
Given Vanessa Bryant's history as a wife, I'm not sure she's that friend.
Kobe showed how sorry he was with a large tattoo and an even larger diamond ring (pictured on Vanessa's finger), but you'd have to think that any other woman would have a hard time staying with him after cheating.
Vanessa most likely has some trust issues, and she probably passed those along in her advice to Pau's girlfriend.
This isn't the first time Vanessa has caused a problem between Kobe and the people close to him. When Kobe and Vanessa tied the knot in 2001, neither of his parents attended.
They were reportedly upset that Kobe was marrying so young and to a woman who wasn't African-American (Vanessa is half Mexican and half Irish).
Kobe's parents came around once Vanessa had their first child, but I'm sure the relationship is still a bit on the touchy side.
After taking a look at Mrs. Kobe Bryant, it seems that she is more deserving of the "Black Mamba" nickname than Kobe.
Come to think of it, she does bear a striking resemblance to the Marvel comic book character of the same name.
Vanessa's managed to inject venom into three different situations (Pau Gasol, Karl Malone, Kobe's parents), and yet Kobe is sticking by her.
Then again, I guess he doesn't really have a choice.