Friday, 21 October 2011
All Around The Kob'.
By TIM DAVID HARVEY.
It all revolves around Kob'. Everything does. The future of the NBA, the future of basketball in the world. Who's watching and who's not. It all turns with Kobe Bryant. ESPN recently ranked him number 7 on a list of top players but surely we can take it higher than that? This man means more than that.
Right now Kobe is more than just big in Japan. From being made in China to showing his heart in Seoul this Summer's tour of Asia took him to another continent, but took his status and stock out this world. Now in November Kobe could follow his dreams and the footsteps of his father Joe 'Jellybean' Bryant and play in Italy.
Now what could this mean? Sure European side Virtus Bologna have not signed Kobe this month but that doesn't mean they won't, just like the fact that the NBA owners and players may meet again this week but that doesn't mean the lockout will be resolved...does it? This Christmas its very likely there won't be any NBA TV under our tree and that makes it even more likely that Kobe will be saying 'ciao' to California for the holidays.
Kobe could make Virtus Bologna, virtually the biggest team in the world if he suits up for them, but the shirts and ties of the NBA will still make money off of this. The more international exposure the biggest Basketball league in the world gets then the more fans from around the globe they'll draw in. Still what Kobe does for ball in Italy could be the biggest thing anyone's done for that country since the top sportsmen that are more accustomed to kicking the ball have.
Kobe could 'Bend it like Beckham' and change the game like his fellow L.A. friend did but in the opposite direction. Making Basketball more popular in the Soccer dominated Europe like David made Soccer more popular in a Basketball first America. Kobe already made more Asian Basketball fans like his name was Yao Ming and now the rest of the world is his for the taking. This could be his making.
His popularity is better than ever, despite the ESPN rank and until LeBron rips the rings off his finger he is the greatest player in the league for all sorts of reasons. The NBA may make more money off him when he becomes exported (and in some ways exploited) abroad but as the owners look shallow in this lockout Bryant will be the more genuinely better off for it.
Think about it the Black Mamba is even digging deeper into his pockets to lend money to his fellow players and peers during this trying time. Now that's no snake. That's a man building ladders while the board plays games. It's clear Bryant's in it for more than the money. He really loves this game. As the NBA becomes a place where nothing happens, Kobe shows us amazing and that this game of basketball right now is his.