What are the differences between LA Laker player Kobe Bryant and Detroit Lion center Dominic Raiola? One's black and one's white. One plays basketball and the other plays football. One has tasted the thrill of victory, while the other has known only the agony of defeat.
What do they have in common? Well, speaking of da feet, they both seem to have a way of sticking them in their own mouths sometimes. In other words, they don't know when to shut up. For over a decade Dominic Raiola has been a team leader and spokesman for -- arguably the sorriest professional franchise in the history of sports. His team is currently in yet another death spiral, but yet Raiola yammers on, calling out teammates and even some of the Lions' home town fans when they dare to say something he doesn't like. He appears to be a member of a very special outfit. The few, the proud, the clueless. Here's a semper fi up Dom's -- now the loser should shut up, and go hold somebody else he can't block. Better yet, hit that Suh guy that he practices against with a few cheap shots, stomp him when he's on the ground, then point at him, trash talk, and laugh as he's writhing in pain. Not only would poetic justice be done, but instead of being known as a lifelong sore loser, Raiola would be instantly transformed into a national hero. Can you imagine the media coverage that would get? Just a thought.
But this is about Kobe. Bryant's a hybrid between a flopper and a flapper. He'll flop on the basketball floor over like he's just been shot if an opposing player even breathes on him, and his gums never seem to quit flapping. He remind yours truly of a character played by the late, great Gilda Radner on Saturday Night Live from yesteryear. Roseanne Roseannadannah. Like RR used to say -- it's always something, then go off on another nonsensical incoherent rant -- much like this one, I suppose.
After yet another Lakers' loss to a team (Orlando Magic) they were supposed to be superior to, Kobe has called out teammate Pao Gasol and told him to "put his big boy pants on". During the latter stages of that game, when the Lakers were coming apart at the seams, Kobe thought Gasol could have played better. Problem is, while all that was happening, Gasol wasn't even in the game. Maybe I'm missing something here, but it would seem to be pretty tough for a player to make a difference in the game while he's sitting on the bench. Sure, Kobe would like to play every minute of every game, and he'd likely hoist up 20 shots for every assist he attempted to pass out, but big guys like Gasol need some rest once in a while. They get beat up near the basket by the other team's big guys, while Kobe stays out on the perimeter waiting for his next opportunity to throw up a long-distance off-balance shot, and hoping somebody dares to touch him, so he can pretend he just got clocked by a blitzing middle linebacker and go into another spasmodic flop of pseudo-agony -- only to miraculously hop up and go shoot free throws a few seconds later, as if nothing ever happened. And most times it didn't anyway.
My take? If Kobe wants Gasol to "put his big boy pants on", then Kobe should "shut his little boy mouth", especially when he doesn't know what he's talking about, which seems to be often.
Kobe seems to think the LA Lakers are "his" team. In that respect, he's delusional. They belong to a guy named Jerry Buss, and JB can throw KB under the bus in LA-LA land any time he feels like it. He needs only make one phone call and the flopper/flapper would have played his last game for the Lakers.
Don't think for a minute Jerry Buss doesn't have the cajones to do just that if he wearies of Kobe and his antics. He most certainly does. Kobe's costing him about $30 million a year, serious change even to a billionaire, and if Bryant gets to be more trouble than he's worth, Buss might just make that phone call.
Look at what happened just recently with the Laker head coaching position. After Mike Brown quickly showed himself incapable of leading the team, he was shown out of town. See ya. Former LA coach Phil Jackson, who had proven himself capable of not only managing the circus act and egos in LA, but guiding them to championships, was considering doing a Brett Favre style return act, to once again lead them to the promised land. Most everybody thought that was a given. Good grief, the Zen Master has even been shacking up with owner Jerry Buss's daughter Jeanie for several years. Buss could be considered almost like a father-in-law to him. But guess what? Phil wanted to think about it for a while. He got cocky, just like Kobe is now. We know what happened or, more properly, didn't happen to Phil. Snooze ya lose, and the job was given to Mark Dantonio. Whether MD turns out to be a successful coach with that team remains to be seen, but Phil's history.
Such are the business decisions billionaires make sometimes. They may have a genuine personal fondness for a player, or perhaps it might even be a member of their family (sort of), but hey, it's business. One way or the other, just about everybody's expendable.
Including Kobe Bean Bryant. Obviously he hasn't figured that out yet. The "black mamba" still thinks he rules in LA. If he wakes up one day and finds himself traded to, say, Cleveland, Washington or Charlotte, then maybe whatever lightbulb he has between his ears will finally start to illuminate his brain, rather than power his mouth -- but it will be too late. Over is over.
In the meantime, for the sake of their fans, the sake of their teammates, the sake of their ownership, the sake of the sports world, and for the sake of all mankind in general, here's hoping Kobe Bryant, Dominic Raiola, and others like them can do just one little thing that seems simple enough.
They're making obscene amounts of money for playing a game. So go play, and play hard.
But shut up.