Kobe’s Last Game Got Meta

Somehow Kobe Bryan’t final game was more interesting than the simultaneous broadcast of the Warriors breaking the all time regular season win mark. In the trainwreck sense. Charlie Sheen’s online meltdown puts any of his acting work to shame in terms of watchability. I actually felt bad for Kobe, and that’s saying a lot since I believe him to be an Aspergery overrated rapist. His hoops game being overrated. His rape game is legit.

If you watched Kobe throughout his career, he was not a clutch player. His NBA finals numbers bear this out as well as his being below average in terms of clutch stats, meaning shots he made in the last minutes of games with the score tight. You can’t argue the numbers. He shot a lot. He made some. Percentage wise, much less than Paul Pierce, for example.

The NBA is interesting in that the identity of teams often match that of their city. The 80’s Lakers were Showtime, the Pistons reflected that city’s blue collar workforce. I’m branding Kobe Bryant the athlete of the Selfie Era, representing the values of the Kardashian clan.

Take this entire season. No respectable NBA player would have ever taken the bait to tank a team for his own ego. Tim Duncan is arguably as good or better than Bryant and he’s taken a secondary role on a team going deep in the playoffs. It’s as if the Lakers front office preyed on Kobe’s quest for legacy. By the way, it’s time to put all that “he’s the ultimate competitor, he’ll win at any cost” stuff to sleep, because that’s obviously not true. If Bryant wanted to win at any cost, he’d have stopped shooting. Poorly, by the way.

Kobe took the most shots ever in a game on his final night. Ever. In the history of the NBA. It exemplified the entire Selfie Era. Without getting all David Foster Wallace, it appeared Bryant was hyper aware of how this narrative would play out. Was he living in that moment, or in how that moment would be spun on an ESPN documentary in perpetuity? Was this essentially a spectacle he knew would be better relayed through Instagram and talking head sports coverage? Clearly the entire thing was pointless. The game didn’t matter. Even in terms of standings. The Lakers were still the second worst team in the league.

Almost every other NBA great played their last game in the playoffs, without knowing the date weeks in advance. None of them scored over 30 points compared to Bryan’ts 60. Probably because they didn’t feel the need. In terms of his on court style, Bryant exemplified the Selfie Era, the era of selfishness. He appears to have bought into it entirely. It happened the same night the Warriors, a decidedly unselfish team, were breaking the all time regular season record for wins. The irony shouldn’t be lost.

During the press conference after the game, Kobe took a bunch of questions from an Italian reporter and answered them in Italian, something I’ve never seen him do. He was using the night as a pageant. His hyperawareness of the entire night distracted from it entirely. It was calculated. Kim Kardashian is a whore. So what, she makes a lot of money. Yeah, but still. Same for Kobe. The Selfie palyer. I wouldn’t envy what’s in his head, but he knows how to make an impression in a world where information is relayed via that kindergarten game of telephone. Good or bad, that’s all that matters in this era.

 

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Matt Ralston is a comedian and writer based in Los Angeles. Follow him on Twitter @MatthewRalston

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