Technically it's still Tuesday, March 11th on the west coast so I didn't completely miss out on the Kobe Bryant Blog Day. Somehow this movement escaped my attention until I stumbled upon the source of the Kobe Love-fest: Hardwood Paroxysm. I like their name and I love their Blog Day idea.
I don't have a direct point for this post (which is, most likely, par for the course) but on this day above others I'd like to explain why I follow the Lakers.
The short answer is Kobe. The long answer is Kobe Bean Bryant.
Ever since Kobe entered the NBA, he has been the physical incarnation of Lakerdom. That position was shared with a few other people you may have heard of but none of them played their entire careers in the Blue and Gold like the Mamba.
I remember reading those early Sports Illustrated stories about Kobe when he first joined the Lakers and I tuned in to watch him play. And I kept tuning in.
That first year we didn't get to see a ton of Kobe, but that didn't stop him from earning a berth in the All-Star game. Few people probably remember this, but during that game Kobe faced off against his Airness, Michael Jordan, in the closest thing to a one-on-one match anywhere in professional basketball.
If my memory is correct, Kobe had the ball and raced down the court on the far side with nobody but MJ between him and the basket. Kobe loped down the court and darted to his right before flashing a spin move that was equal parts brilliance and foolishness. Kobe missed the dunk attempt (or was it a layup -- my mind is too mushy to recall) but he did draw the foul. I remember Kobe smiled afterwards in appreciation of the moment and by then I was already hooked on his unique talent.
Obviously Kobe has seen his share of turmoil both on and off the court and that has understandably put off many people from accepting him. But the Ocho-uno he dropped on Toronto and the consistent brilliance he has displayed throughout his career have made even the most startling headlines regarding his personal life take a back seat to his incredible accomplishments in his professional one.
So here's to you Kobe Bryant.