Do you feel it? That special something in the air? Just a little bit of extra electricity? Know what it is? It’s basketball season again!
Since the Lakers went all the way to the finals last year, it seems the off-season went by in a flash, but that didn’t make it any less exciting when mid-October rolled around the Right-Click household this year. Because basketball, my friends, is the one sport that I will watch with Mr. Right-Click, beyond the very occasional Tiger Woods tournament and maybe, MAYBE, the Superbowl. And the Superbowl would be begrudgingly. But basketball, basketball is something different. We trade high fives during games on the couch, engage in hypotheticals regarding future trades and try to decide which is worth more–Luke Walton, or a cup of minestrone? And on special occasions, we even do the play-by-play/color commentary exchange game, viz.:
Mr. Right-Click (play-by-play): Kobe down the lane, slides past defenders, he goes up and he’s fouled!
Anna (Color): As everybody knows, Kobe is one of the league’s best free throw shooters, so if you have to choose one person to foul in the last few seconds of the game, he’s not the best choice.
Mr. Right-Click: The foul is going to be on Garnett, that’s his fifth foul with just 4 minutes to go in the fourth quarter. And his first shot is good.
Anna: Kobe, whose name will always bear the stain from the Colorado Alleged Rape Incident, is still not completely recovered from his pinky injury from last season–wonder if he’ll have to buy his wife another $5 million pink diamond this season, eh? Stu?
Mr. Right-Click: Honey!
Anna: What?! Why are you breaking character?
Mr. Right-Click: Just because you’re doing color commentary does not mean you have to bring up the rape thing EVERY SINGLE TIME.
Anna: I’m trying to give the people what they want.
Mr. Right-Click: That case was dismissed.
I had to come to some kind of acceptance regarding the Kobe Bryant question, because you cannot be a basketball fan, much less a Laker fan, without at least acknowledging what a great player Kobe Bryant is. It’s not a feasible task for me to boycott games, particularly since both Mr. Right-Click and I grew up watching the Lakers. If you live within the city limits of Los Angeles, you basically don’t talk about the whole Rape Question with regard to Kobe. Other topics you don’t discuss: the Shaq question, unless you are going to blame Shaq for leaving; the Clippers, unless it is to make fun or to mark yourself as an Outsider; and 3) anything about the Celtics that could, even in the most remote of possibilities, be construed as being positive.
After consulting my years of studying gender theory, and factoring in what I understand of Life on the Road for an NBA player, and filtering these results with my need to not feel like I am supporting somebody guilty of a crime, I have fashioned myself a rationalization regarding Kobe Bryant. Kobe is a great player, regardless of his extra-curricular sexual life. I don’t like him cheating on his wife, which we know he did for sure, and if he is guilty of anything more sinister, well. I don’t know what to say. But, there is something to be said about appreciating the work of someone even whilst you suspect them of moral degeneracy. Look at basically any great writer or artist for evidence of this. Or Bill Clinton. Or Roman Polanski. [Note to self: write post about why it is that Roman Polanski, to this day, does not see anything wrong with sleeping with a 13-year-old, but nobody really talks about it except for in a tangential, "oh-by-the-way" kind of manner when he gets nominated for an Oscar. Discuss if this is yet another example of HAS THE WORLD GONE MAD mentality.]
So yeah. Basically, I am a big Lakers fan and I watch Kobe two, three times a week. However, I will not allow Mini to wear Kobe’s jerseys, which sounds like a small concession, but actually is not, because Kobe is beloved by kids. By kids worldwide, in fact. I think it’s because he always goes out of his way to give them high-fives at games or something, I’m not sure. So Mr. Right-Click and I have an agreement that Mini can wear Derek Fisher’s jersey, or Jordan Farmar’s jersey, or even Andrew Bynum’s jersey, but not Kobe’s. Until he is old enough to demand a Kobe jersey, at which point I will just sort of fade into the background with my objections. Because I’m not going to explain to a small child what “Rape Controversy” means.
Things are so much more exhausting when you’re a parent. You know, I don’t know what to say to the basketball player regarding his position as “role model” v. just a talented athlete with no obligation to maintain a standard of behavior worth emulating for his younger fans. And it does seem to extend to basketball players especially, along with baseball players as well (I suppose). I mean, with football players, I think it’s just widely accepted that a big chunk of them are gangsters, dog-fighting ring capons, and other assorted criminals. Nobody really argues about it. In fact, I’ve heard Adam Corolla suggest that the NFL and the Department of Corrections should implement a policy where you can bank jail time during the off season, so that when (not if) you are arrested for something, you already have like six months saved up towards your parole.
But basketball is a little different. Back in the days when Charles Barkley made the claim that he wasn’t a role model, I kind of understood what he was trying to say. But the fact of the matter is that they are public figures that are widely watched and adored by children, and though we cannot expect them to be perfect, especially when they are thrust into the spotlight, and given tons of money, when they are only 17, 18, 19, 20 . . . they might just have some obligation to the community that supports them, no?
Kobe seems to understand that obligation, based on his community service/outreach record, his Rape Controversy history notwithstanding. So I have to cut him some slack for that. Plus, we went to the Championships last year, and so far this season we are 7-0. Hey, if I could have Mini wear a Barack Obama jersey 24/7, I would. But I’m guessing that’s not going to be as popular as the Kobe 24 jersey in the near future.