So, finally, the last Kobe essay! Incidentally, thanks to our man #24 for giving Jaric a little 'bow last night. Although, I don't know why I'm being thankful when I don't even keep track of my views. Horrors! What a blogging sin!
Anyway, Kobe is the Immigrant with Skills. See, when your and my grandpappy came through Ellis Island, they had to learn English and kneel to the culture or else. They started washing dishes in some little hole, and when they accidentally brought a customer tomatoes instead of a Coke or something, they had their "welcome-to-America" moment. This moment consisted of the manager slapping them upside the head and saying "Learn some English, you immigrant trash!" They then were forced to learn our difficult language, shower more than once a week, and embrace our exorbant consumption and wild Jezebel women. Wait a minute, that last part is only on TV shows we export to gullible nations. I, for one, have not seen a Jezebel in weeks.
But, suppose your grandfather was a brilliant Russian mathematician, or your grandmother a beautiful Swedish songstress, or your son was a 6'7" baller who could jump to the NBA right out of high school. THAT type of immigrant doesn't need to assimilate. The manager learns their language, not the other way around. (My dear Swedess, I advise you to avoid the late shift on weekdays for your safety). And for years, they can happily hang out in their unassimilated form, not needing to conform to our nation. Of course, they can't speak English to the wild Jezebels, but they also save a bundle on deoderant and soap. And if they are skilled enough, the Jezebels don't care. Not a bad deal.
Then, one day, people realize that the immigrant is getting a sweetheart deal. And that immigrant becomes a whipping boy. It happened to Allen Iverson, Michael Jordan, and Shaq. But as I was saying elsewhere, the difference is that the street and the MSM (Mainstream Sports Media, of course :-)) both hated Kobe at the same time, WHILE he was winning championships! I hated him myself for years; hated his arrogant look, hated that he went straight from high school to the NBA and negotiated his way to LA.
Then, I realized that Kobe was human, at the Philly All-Star game. That really, he's one of those guys who tries to act so tough because he really doesn't know how to interact with this culture. I think Colorado was an outgrowth of that; Kobe hadn't really done that sort of thing when he was younger, so he tried it when he was older and bungled it. (Let me say, though, I feel for that girl. How would we feel if it was an 18-year-old boy fan instead?). I stopped hating Kobe, and started feeling sorry for him. Despite his HUGE skill set, he really doesn't know how to fit in. Like many an athlete, and even more for an athlete born to an athlete, he never got to be anything but Kobe the Baller, from "Ballerstan", if you will. That's his identity, and he hid there during the teenage years...only to find that there's nothing to him but that.
So to lay it all out there; I now sympathize with Kobe. I'm not necessarily a fan of his game. But I feel that he has some real issues, the way he's mercilessly cut his family and others out of his life, the way his public persona always seems to be changing. I'm not going to give you one of those "He needs our love, not our hate!" speeches. But imagine if everyone in your life loved you for just one thing, and that one thing dominated your life so much that you became that one thing. It's not necessarily the blessing you think to be dazzlingly beautiful, blazingly intelligent, mercurial in your creativity, or awesome in your athleticism. People don't see you as truly human anymore; you are from another place. They admire you, fear you, hate you, and never try to understand you. You are (deep breath to create false drama)...the Immigrant...with Skills...Kobe Bean Bryant.
To me, this is the real Kobe; trying to look as he has something to do, but actually looking rather lonely and out of place for a wealthy athlete. Maybe it wouldn't hurt Kobe, now that he's no longer the youngest player on the team, to admit that he needs a friend or two, or nurture some friendships. But the man just sits there, waiting for someone or another to show up, while pretending that he meant to be alone. I'd pity him...if he wasn't a wealthy athlete. Awkward problem, isn't it?