When Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant announced a partnership with ESPN to write, produce and host a special series, “Detail,” in which he would analyze games and players throughout the 2018 NBA Playoffs, he may have unwittingly created something akin to the “Madden Curse.”
The series premiered on ESPN+ on April 12, with Bryant highlighting and analyzing the matchup between the Lakers and Denver Nuggets in Game 6 of the 2009 Western Conference Finals. Since then, he’s focused on DeMar DeRozan, Donovan Mitchell, Jrue Holiday, LeBron James, Jayson Tatum and Stephen Curry.
Players, particularly rookies Mitchell and Tatum, have raved about Bryant’s meticulous breaking down of their film and suggestions he provided. However, an unsettling theme has developed.
Those Bryant has focused on have either lost the ensuing game(s) or eventually were eliminated from the playoffs after their respective episode aired.
DeRozan and the Toronto Raptors won Game 2 and their first-round matchup with the Washington Wizards but then were swept by James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Mitchell and the Utah Jazz won Game 2 against the Houston Rockets, though were eliminated in five games.
Next up was Holiday and his performance in a Game 3 win of the Western Conference semifinals. The New Orleans Pelicans dropped the next two games and were eliminated by the Warriors.
Episode 5 of “Detail” examined James in an Eastern Conference Preview. The Cleveland Cavaliers lost the first two games to the Celtics, though have since evened up the series heading into Game 5 on Wednesday.
That may or may not be related to Bryant zeroing in on Celtics rookie Jayson Tatum before Game 3.
As for Curry, he exploded in the third quarter of Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals, and followed suit in Game 4, but the Rockets mounted a comeback to steal homecourt advantage. Curry shot just 1-for-8 in the fourth quarter of the loss.
Thus far, no team that’s had a player featured on “Detail” has won their playoff series. A positive for James and Tatum is something will need to give. One of them is guaranteed to wind up in the NBA Finals and perhaps win the championship.
Meanwhile, Curry will look to buck the trend and the Rockets may need to do the same, as Bryant may eventually come calling.
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