Los Angeles Lakers icon Kobe Bryant has been a part of the NBA for 17 seasons. During that time, he's seen several different eras, from the end of Michael Jordan's dominance to the recent ascendance of LeBron James and Kevin Durant. The only constant, really, has been Kobe. He's been so good and so relevant for so long that a certain kind of fan — anyone younger than 30, basically — may have a hard time conceiving of the NBA without him.
In other words, he's a constant. It's exactly that idea that gives the new Kobe-centric Nike ad it's power. In the spot, a British woman narrates Kobe's daily routine and performances as a part of the natural cycle of the world, a sure thing much like the sun shining, rain falling, and grass growing. He's a fixed part of our lives.
Opinions on Kobe change, of course, and it's not as if he's the exact same player or personality every season. But this commercial nevertheless nails the Kobe experience very, very well. He really is an essential part of the sports landscape, a defining figure in NBA history.
As if to hammer home his unique importance, Bryant also happened to give an instant-classic interview with Chris Palmer for ESPN.com. The conversation touches on many aspects of Kobe's life, including his belief that he's the greatest one-on-one player ever, his similarities to the common man, and his lifelong crusade against dog poop.
In the question and answer session, Bryant went out of his way to tell Palmer that, nearly 17 full years into his professional career, that he's never come out on the losing end of a one-on-one game. Accept that with however many grains of salt you typically prefer with Bryant, but that's his quote. From the interview:
I love going one-on-one with someone. That’s what I do. I’ve never lost. It’s a whole different game, just to have them right in front of you and be able to do whatever you want.
Check out some other highlights after the jump.
As noted in the preceding paragraph, the biggest basketball-only revelation in this interview is that Kobe gives some details of his one-on-one prowess, as well as past victories (via TBJ):
Who would you most like to play one-on-one, either active or retired?
Jordan. No question.
What would happen?
I’m not sure, but he would win some and I would win some in a seven-game series. It would probably come down to the last few shots.
You versus LeBron? Who wins?
Me. No question. As far as one-on-one, I’m the best to ever do it.
Kobe goes on to describe how Kevin Durant could possibly give him problems in a head-to-head matchup. Palmer follows up by mentioning prime Tracy McGrady as a potential challenger, and that's when things get out of hand:
I always wanted to see you play Tracy McGrady.
I played T-Mac. I cooked him. Roasted him. Wasn’t even close. Ask him, he’ll tell you. When I was about 20, we were in Germany doing some promotional stuff for that other sneaker company and we played basketball every day. We were in the gym all the time. We played three games of one-on-one to 11. I won all three games. One game I won 11-2. After the third game he said he had back spasms and couldn’t play anymore.
His back bothered him for most of his career.
Well, now you know.
Kobe's memory may be off, but he turned 20 in August 1998. McGrady first struggled seriously with back injuries during the 2001-02 season, which means that it's entirely possible that Kobe is claiming to have caused T-Mac's career-long back problems in a series of one-on-one thumpings. I do not want to jump to conclusions, but it's a possible interpretation.
The interview shifts course shortly after this exchange and gets into more personal territory, and that's where things get really interesting. I'm hesitant to spoil too many of the surprises, but it's worth reading in full just to experience the wonderful quote "I do all of life's daily tasks" in context.
However, there is one point worth giving special attention. Palmer asks Kobe for his pet peeve. His response:
I hate dog s---. I won’t go near it. So pissed when I step in it. I’ve got four dogs and I just don’t do dog doo. I’m a diva when it comes to that.
I'm not sure if dog poop can be called a pet peeve — unless, that is, Kobe thinks a pet peeve is a peeve about pets — because that term typically refers to ever-present, inescapable problems that just won't go away. Whatever the case, it's worth noting that Bryant has been on a crusaded against dog poop for at least three years. In 2009, he gave an interview to Complex.com in which he also expressed his disdain.
I'm still not sure why Kobe thinks it's notable that he hates something 99.9 percent of humans hate, but he's obviously had some bad experiences with dog poop. Yet, if he really does have to deal with it more often than anyone else in the world, as he seems to think, then that would certainly explain some of his more bizarre behavior.
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