Saturday, December 19, 2015

Kobe Bryant. All-Star farce

To any fair minded NBA fan, or even a person with the slightest bit of objectivity, the proposition is absolutely ludicrous. Along with Stephen Curry, Kobe Bryant will be a starting guard in the NBA All -Star game? You've got to be kidding. How stupid are the voters that are casting these ballots?

Let's get real. Kobe Bean Bryant pretty well stunk it up last year on a bad Lakers team. This year, he's been even worse. Much worse. He's terrible. Based on production only -- and what else matters? -- Bryant likely couldn't even make the roster, let alone start for any other team in the league. For every shot he makes, there's a few bricks and even air balls. He can't defend anybody anymore and is a turnover waiting to happen. It's become pitiful to even watch. For his on court bumbling he has and will make $48 million over the last season and the current one. Bryant is to the salary cap what a voracious fox is to a farmer's chicken coop. One might salvage a few eggs, but the destruction that is wrought is definitely not good for business in the long run.

Yet the mania persists. Kobe is on his "farewell tour", so all should humbly bow and acknowledge his greatness in years past. To which I say -- BS. The dude's already got over $300 million in the bank and a room full of trophies. For him to command, and get a $48 million two-year contract from the Lakers proved two things. Kobe had no shame and the Lakers had no financial sense.

What is astounding, even laughable, is how the TV folks will desperately search for a Kobe "highlight" -- anything remotely considered a good play -- and replay it over and over again. See Kobe dunk. See 100 replays. What we don't see is all the bumbling he did on the court before and after such a play. Did I mention he's become terrible?

Showing such a dunk is akin to showing Eldrick "Tiger" Woods draining a 25 foot putt when he's already 15 shots behind and woefully out of contention. Other than misguided and outdated hero worship -- what's the point?

They both had their days in the limelight and now it's over. Like Bryant, it's become obvious Woods can no longer contend at a high level. Or might we see Tiger on a farewell tour next year? Would the PGA folks give him an exemption to making the cut in all tournaments so his adoring lemmings can follow him around on the weekends -- even if he was in dead last place and fading even further on every hole? And OMG, imagine the replays from hell the TV folks would come up with. It would be a constant bombardment of Tiger this and Tiger that. A yearlong shock and awe scenario that would daunt even the likes of Darth Cheney, in whatever bunker he currently resides in.

Other athletes have had farewell tours, knowing their present season would be their last. The NY Yankee captain Derek Jeter comes to mind, as does NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon. The difference between them and Kobe? Jeter was still productive in his final year. Gordon wasn't only competitive, but made it to the Final Four of NASCAR's "chase".

In the meantime, Kobe just keeps stinking it up in one arena after another. He has become the very embodiment of what has gone horribly wrong in American professional sports. Obscenely overpaid jocks in stick and ball sports. And don't kid yourself. The trickle down effect hits the fans in their wallets and purses. There's a reason why ticket prices are so high and a quarter's worth of nasty draft beer costs $10. Somebody has to pay for this insanity.

True, it's been said that with all the billions of TV dollars pouring into the leagues the owners don't have to sell a single ticket to a single game and would still turn a handsome profit. They will deny that, of course, but good luck getting a look at their books. And even if you could, only a seasoned CPA could begin to decipher the financial shell game that has long been in play by the billionaires and their franchise toys.

Nevertheless, Kobe Bean Bryant being chosen as a starting guard for the NBA All-Star game is nothing short of a travesty.

But wait, some will claim. This final honor and his farewell tour only reflect the respect and admiration he has so rightly earned over his storied career.

To which I say again, BS. Some of us never respected him in the first place, much less admired him. He was an admitted adulterer and a ball hog for his whole career. He happened to land in the right place at the right time on the right team (see supporting cast) to win a few championships. And who's kidding who? The media always looked for a reason -- any reason -- to trumpet the "showtime" Lakers.

But now they've become the "blowtime" Lakers, bottom feeders in the NBA. Incredibly, they're paying Kobe Bryant $24 million this year to further prove he would be incapable of even making a roster on any other team. The past was the past and right now he continues to stink it up. As Charles Barkley would say -- Turrible. Just turrible.

Kobe Bryant making the All-Star game at all, much less a starter, is a slap in the face to not only much more worthy players, but any objective fan that wants to tune in to see the best when the annual spectacle is played, regardless if it's always more like a Harlem Globetrotter entertainment game than a serious contest among guys actually -- you know -- playing hard.

$24 million and a trip to the All-Star game as a starter. Only Kobe could pull this off, with a lot of help from the usual lemmings.

Slice it and dice it any which way you wish but, in the end, it's still a farce.

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