Posts Tagged 'Kobe Bryant'

The Eye of the Bulldog

nvo9wlAt the end of these NBA Finals, Kobe Bryant will finally have something he has needed to secure his place in basketball folklore. No, I’m not talking about a title sans the Big Aristotle – though he will certainly have that when the Lakers clinch in five. What Kobe Bryant has been missing is a signature. A defining image. An iconic picture worthy of a stamp on an envelope.

I’m talking, of course, about newborn Kobe Face. Up until now, when the average fan brings up the image of Kobe in his or her mind, one of the following visions appear:

Now, his legacy will also include this bulldog impersonation.

As much as stings to admit this, Kobe deserves a ring without Shaq. Much like Shooter McGavin, this is Kobe’s turn to win the gold jacket. And, like all the other greats, it was time for the Black Mamba to burn an image into our memory. 

It’s hard not to be suspicious, though, of the origins of the aforementioned expression. I know Kobe is extremely marketable (as evidenced every other commercial during these NBA playoffs), but doesn’t a signature look give him even more marketing moxie? On his latest podcast, Bill Simmons jokingly asked Matthew Berry if Kobe had been practicing “the badger” face in the mirror – but it doesn’t really seem too far-fetched.

Riddle me this… Kobe is a perennial All-Star in his 12th season, and we are only now seeing the Eye of the Bulldog? If this face truly is just spontaneous manifestation of pure grit, shouldn’t we have seen this underbite years ago? Furthermore, if this look is actually genuine, does this mean he wasn’t trying as hard in the previous 12 seasons? Can humans change their face behavior overnight? 

Questions abound, but the truth is the Kobe Face is a new invention – or rather, it’s a reinvention. Instead of being perceived as a whiny adulterer who never lived up to the “Jordan-esque” potential, Kobe Bryant will carve out his identity as a bona-fide winner. And the Kobe Face will forever serve to remind us as such. 

In the months following the 2009 Finals and the weeks leading up to the 2010 Playoffs, look for Kobe and his new expression to be as omnipresent as ever. Forget sharing the spotlight with LeBron, Kobe will in a surplus of Gatorade, Nike and – of course – Puppychow commercials for years to come.


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