Monday, May 18, 2009

"Kobe Doin' Work" Is All Ball

Sports is about inference. Some calculate the stats, others piece together any other evidence they can find. Whether it be how a player acts off the court, how much his teammates like him, or how he portrays himself to the media, we will find something abstract to make conclusions about one's game. With the easy availability of stats and tangibles at our fingertips, it's only natural seek out the intangibles as a way to learn more. And often we get it wrong.

Which brings us to "Kobe Doin' Work", Spike Lee's documentary profiling a 2008 regular season game between the Lakers and Spurs. The title explains just about everything. It's 90 minutes of Kobe Bryant explaining why he's shooting or passing, why he's on his man or roaming the court. It's NBA 101 and Professor Bryant is about to school you. No drama, no headlines. Just a student of the game giving us an inside look on what it's like to be the game's biggest star. On the court, that is.

And that's what makes "Kobe Doin' Work", well, work. We will never really know why Lee decided to do this film the way he did. But I suspect it was to somewhat humanize a man who has played the villain role most of his career. And an hour and a half of Kobe with his family or attending charity events would seem too contrived, and the haters would see right through it. Here, Bryant is in his element; just talkin' hoops. He doesn't have to worry about saying the right things or playing a specific part. And through all the lessons and insights, we realize how being a celebrity is nowhere inside of his DNA. Basketball is what Kobe knows, and he knows it better than anybody. Shaq was celebrated by the media because not only could he ball, but he could play the media game as well. It came natural to him. The only thing Bryant has in his blood is a pure passion for hoops, and sadly it has led to him wearing a black hat.

There is a reason that the gold #24 jersey outsells everyone. Whether we think he is a bad guy or not, one message leaks through to the kids: Kobe Bryant is one of the greatest players of all time. "Kobe Doin' Work" gives us a little glimpse why. And for 90 minutes, the only important factor is how he performs on the court. Which is the way it should have always been.


margikc said...

Awesome write!! Can't wait to read more of your stuff!

J Fish said...

Thanks, I'll keep em coming.

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