Dark Kobe was a newer, tougher version of the old one. Less Emilio Estevez and more Judd Nelson. Hey, people reinvent themselves every day in America, do you think anyone would have blamed him?
It was almost as if he tried to be Dark Kobe, but just would never let himself fully commit. Everything came to a head last June. The Lakers winning the 2009 NBA Title was a massive catharsis for Kobe fans across the nation. It was our time to stick it to Shaquille O’Neal and his awful rapping, our time to laugh at a pouting LeBron James, our time to shove this in the face of every critic who said Kobe was too selfish to win a title on his own.
I was praying Kobe would go all Half Baked on us and call out everyone in the audience like Mike Jordan did at his Hall of Fame acceptance speech: “Eff you, eff you, eff you, you’re cool, eff you.”
So what happens?
Kobe brings his wife and daughters on the floor with him and turns the post title celebration into a manufactured family love fest. Kobe my man, come on. I know you love your daughters and have tried to repair the public perception of your family for years, but it all feels so artificial. A bit too forced. A little, well, fake.
Speaking of contrived, I’m still trying to pretend that “Kobe: Doin Work” never happened. If there was ever an opportunity for me to rewrite a moment in TV Movie History, this would be it. Sorry Spike, but I would have nailed that piece. My movie would introduce the world to Dark Kobe, a vicious Kobe Bryant hell bent on destroying everything in his path to an NBA Title.
Of course the argument against Dark Kobe is that people don’t identify with the “bad guy”. The “bad guy” doesn’t sell merchandise, right? Ask the 76ers how much money they made selling Allen Iverson jerseys over the years and you’ll see that argument doesn’t hold much water. People would embrace Dark Kobe for the same reason they embraced Allen Iverson: he’s real.
That’s all we’ve ever asked from Kobe, just be real. Don’t feed us a heeping spoon full of garbage because it’s what you think we want. Just be you Kobe, we’ll accept you for who you are.
Not everyone can be Luke Skywalker, some of us were meant to be Anakin… and that’s not a bad thing.
It’s not too late.
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