Friday, April 20, 2012


He has been sitting on his throne, watching and resting. He smiles sometimes, but not his eyes. He has taken notes and measurements. Kobe Bryant is the closest thing the league has to a cold-blooded, reptilian assassin. 

There are different narratives for different teams and fans, and for observers of the game who watch it incessantly - issuing opinions and pronouncements. Increasingly, there is the matter of numbers, charts, statistical truths. Because numbers don’t lie, they do not have that capability. There is a purity to them. As there is a purity to the clinically organized killer.

Tinker, tailor, solider, spy. Some love the journeymen, others are longshot players who'll bet their pockets on the outside rainbow, and some love the power game.  And then there’s those who like to infiltrate, to cast doubt, to argue the very validity of specialness or magic in your team, or your fandom.

These last are the darkest seeds. They long to be placed under your skin, to grow long tendrils. They want your arguments.

The anti-Lakers, anti-Kobe narrative is one of the league’s most consistently fascinating ones. You may argue this of course, because arguing is the endless tape loop of commentary. Why on earth didn’t they catch the killer? Because the movie would have been over in the first reel, dummy. And swaths of purple and gold in every arena. 

From J.R. Wilco at Pounding the Rock, in an ongoing series conversation with C.A. Clark at Silver Screen and Roll:

I hate being in the middle of a tense moment in the film and having the thought that the character who’s in trouble will certainly make it out of the situation, because he hasn’t yet said that line from the trailer that I liked so much.

Bryant has been sitting for the past seven games. During which, the Lakers have won five, lost two. By definition, this means that guys have stepped up. Two of the last seven games have been against the Spurs - the Lakers demolished them at the AT&T Center and the Spurs returned the favor at Staples. Game three of the series is at hand, back in San Antonio, and naturally, the script calls for the return of Kobe.

Here is where the torches burn brightest, where the cyber village becomes the most querulous and agitated. Is he going to try and take over? Will the team turn into wicker men, offered on the alter of his greatness? Whatever happens, Kobe can’t possibly be clutch because this has been proven to be statistically incorrect.

Of course, there could be the storyline that plays out best within a team's own fan base, the one that doesn't easily go viral. That a team continues to find its way, that a superstar in his 16th season returns after a much needed rest. That he faces a team he has faced so many times before.  And that Bynum and Gasol continue their front court dominance, MWP hits his outside shots, and new arrival Ramon Sessions continues to find the seams. And that Kobe will process and adjust, and do the most damage when it’s most needed. Because assassins don’t always kill in the first reel.

Watch out now, take care, beware, of soft shoe shufflers. Dancing down the sidewalks. As each unconscious sufferer, wanders aimlessly. Beware of Mamba.

In a wholly unrelated note, has anybody seen the Dark Shadows trailer? I don’t know, it’s a matter of remakes and cover songs – sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t.

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