Dark Kobe, We Need You Now

As consumers living blindly in a Nike world, we were once naive enough to believe “Our Kobe” was a fun loving family man with a smile like gold. That, of course, was before we learned about the Colorado incident and lived through the premature demise of a Lakers dynasty. As his castle crumbled around him we saw how Kobe responded when he was the last man standing. Some of us admired his perseverance and determination, but we couldn’t help but question whether the Mr. Clean image we were spoon fed for years was anything close to a fair representation of who Kobe really was.

Repairing Kobe’s image at this point in the game was a lost cause. It was simply too late. We already knew the once mighty wizard was just a man behind a curtain. We had seen a darker side of Kobe, and we would never accept his “good guy” act again.

This was the moment when his people should have let the old smiling Kobe go and embrace a new darker version of Kobe.

They knew the wholesome image of Kobe hawking burgers for McDonald’s was not going to work anymore, so why not embrace the role as the leading villain of sports? It sure beats the seemingly contrived, almost phony public persona we see now.

More MJ the Conquerer, less MJ the Pitchman

While we may not know who the “real” Kobe is, we do know his goal is to be the greatest basketball player to ever live. He’s honed his craft by watching tape of Michael Jordan in hopes of improving on his every move. The problem is that somewhere along the line Kobe began mimicking Michael’s public persona, when a smiling-happy-go-lucky-advertiser is nothing close to who he really is.

Since 2003, Kobe received more ruthless criticism than any celebrity athlete in history (until recently, when Tiger Woods gave us more sex scandal/Nickleback jokes than we know what to do with).

Look Kobe, we understand why you are dismissive and rude. In fact, after the way you’ve been publicly trashed for the better part of a decade I would expect nothing less. It’s okay to be a little angry, and it’s okay to show it. Just don’t put on a happy face and act like everything is fine and dandy.

Since Kobe is obviously reluctant and uncomfortable being “the bad guy”, someone close to him should have just made the executive decision for him. Flash back to 2006. All the stars were aligned for Dark Kobe to emerge and dominate the NBA: the world was against him, Phil came back to coach him, he changed his number from 8 to 24, he started responding to Black Mamba. If ever there was a moment to become the leading villain in sports it was then.

Next: It was time for a change. Time for Dark Kobe.
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