01/14/2007: "Jack Bauer: The Evolution of Darth Kobe Bryant"
Jack Bauer: The Evolution of Darth Kobe Bryant
Written Robert Littal
Email Robert Littal
JACK BAUER: THE EVOLUTION OF DARTH KOBE BRYANT
When dealing with athletes and celebrities in general, there are normally two sides to that individual. The side they want you to see and the side that they really are. Oftentimes, agents, managers, stylists, parents, record companies, professional teams, and a bevy of other handlers and hangers-on carefully craft the side they want you to see. The common man has been so manipulated by these images; it is very hard to tell what is real and what is silicone. Let’s take someone like Britney Spears whose image was so masterfully created that when she was 16, she had 30-year-old men thinking thoughts they shouldn’t and 12-year-old girls running out buying Catholic girl school uniforms. But after cheating on her pop star boyfriend, hooking up with a backup dancer who already had 1 kid and a baby mama who was 9 months pregnant, getting knocked up twice herself and walking around looking like the most expensive trailer park trash woman in the universe, she has shown another side that is both shocking and sad at the same time. You can’t go 5 minutes without seeing a picture of her with he legs spread-eagle, and now that her fame has taken a step backward, you are probably seeing the real Britney. Last year when I wrote the piece “Darth Kobe” about how Kobe Bryant still reeling from his dry humping incident in Colorado needed to change his image now that people knew the real Kobe, not the perfect Kobe that the media perpetuated before the incident in Colorado, people thought I was insane. They said there was no way he would ever be as popular as he was in the past, but I counter that villains are always more popular than the hero, so if he embraced the “darkside” and with some strategic maneuvers, he could even be bigger than he was before the “dry humping” incident. One year later the transformation is almost complete, as Bean has gone from Kobe Sykwalker to Darth Kobe and now Jack Bauer.
If you don’t know Jack Bauer or the hit Fox show “24” shame on you. Immediately go to Best Buy (to get the dvds) or get on the Internet and watch the first 5 seasons. Jack Bauer is a conflicted CTU agent (Counter Terrorist Unit) who each season has to battle a terrorist attack while dealing with personal drama (this list is so long, but includes his wife getting kidnapped then murdered by his mistresses who turned out to be a terrorist, his daughter dating his partner whose hand he had to chop off, a heroin addiction, the killing of his own boss and I can go on, on). Jack walks a fine line between being a hero and a maniac, which makes for gripping television. Right now, Kobe is walking that fine line between being a good guy and being a bad guy. When you balance the two, you can become the most talked about player in the NBA.
There were certain things that had to happen before Kobe got back on top of that mountain. I touched on some of them in the “Darth Kobe” article but let’s review what has happened since that time to help this transformation:
1-His wife didn’t leave him and on top of that they pop out another kid.
Call this the Michael Jordan and Juanita Jordan rule. As you already know by now MJ and his wife have called it quits after 17 years of marriage. What you don’t know is that marriage was over a long time ago, but for the sake of MJ’s image, Juanita’s bank account and their children they kept up the facade of a happily married couple. The worst thing that could have happened to Kobe is Vanessa leaving him because next thing you know, she would have been on Oprah spilling her guts out and it would have been game over. So whatever he had to keep her around and off the talk shows it was worth it. On top of that she popped out another kid for him, which only helped the perception. Now five years after he retires he can divorce her and no one will care.
2-Shaq burying the hatchet.
They will never be best of friends, but the facts were as long as Shaq had an ax to grind with Kobe a lot of the Shaq groupies in turn were going to have an ax to grind with him as well. Shaq still whines occasionally about their years together and will throw a jab at Bean every once in awhile, but it is pretty much old news. This allowed Shaq loyalists in the media and around the league to give Kobe a fair shake. In essence people, in general felt that if Shaq could give him a pass even after he snitched on him the Colorado PD why should we hold a grudge.
3-Phillip came back.
You know Bean idolizes Jordan and Jordan only respected Jackson (sorry Doug Collins). Jordan only won titles with Jackson and Bean has only won titles with Jackson. Kobe wouldn’t listen to any other coach but the Hemp Master. Phillip is the only one who has to balls to call out Kobe when he goes into his Pete Marvoich mold. In essence, the Lakers had to hire Phillip back or it would never have worked out as well as it has and I know what you are thinking and the answer is no. There is no way Coach K could have handle the pressures of the pro game.
4-Paying off the Dry Humpee.
My people he gave her about 2-3 million which to be honest isn’t a lot when you are worth 300+ million. More importantly, his lawyers made her sign a settlement agreement that can never divulge information pertaining to the case on television, radio or book deals. So now she is just a footnote in history and the majority of fans and media have either pushed it aside or believe she was lying anyway. You rarely even hear it mentioned anymore and in the end, both men and women seem to believe Kobe’s side of the story and the reason why is because the Dry Humpee never got to tell her side of the and she never will.
The 5th reason is quite possibly the most important reason. Athletes and professional sports teams in general can get the viewing public to overlook a lot of things by performing on the field. The reason Bill Belchiek only gets a slap of the wrist by the Boston Media for being an ass is because he has 3 Super Bowl rings. If you lose, all of your flaws are exposed. If you win, all of your flaws are swept under the rug. When the Lakers were awful under Rudy T, Kobe was the most selfish player in the league. Now that they are winning under the Hemp Master, he has become a leader and unselfish. Winning heals all wounds and causes amnesia.
In brilliant marketing strategy, Bean changed his number from #8 to #24. While Internet message boards across the country tried to decipher the hidden meaning behind the change from the Jack Bauer reference to the I’m-one-better-than-Jordan (my personal favorite) the real reason unfortunately is as sexy. Simply put #8 is associated with a dry humping, bad teammate, and egomaniacal player. While #24 is a leader, a family man who is capable of dropping a “T.O.” on any team in the league. You will be surprised about how something simple as that can change someone’s perception. Right now, there is a woman (or man) at your job who wears glasses, long skirts, button up shirts and her hair in a bun everyday. You think she is intelligent and boring. Then you see that same woman at the club in 6 inch heels, a skin tight red dress, cleavage hanging out all over the place and hair down to her butt now all of sudden she is a slut. Perception is reality and Bean is now perceived as a different guy.
One of the basic principles of the article was that Kobe had to embrace the darkside and realize that no matter what he does, there will be many people that will always hate him. Instead of trying to please those people, he should embrace them. The more haters you have the more popular you become. The trick is to balance those who hate with those who love. You don’t want to be in a T.O. or Barry Bonds situation where even your fans have a hard time defending you. The reason that people or so attached to the character of Jack Bauer is because of the duality of his personalities. You want to like him but then you see him choking out his girlfriend’s ex husband and it makes you wonder. Kobe has gained that duality. You never know if he is going to kiss Phil Jackson or call Kwame Brown a Flaming (well you know the rest) for dropping another easy pass under the basket.
At this point, Kobe has achieved what many thought he couldn’t. There are a bunch of 10 year-old white boys (and girls for that matter) running around in #24 jerseys. There was many that thought the Lakers could not win even after Phillip came back because of the presence of Bryant on the team, and have been proven wrong. 95% of the work has been done, but the last 5% will be the hardest. For the transformation to be complete, Bean has to and must win a championship.
Right now, people are happy because the Lakers have exceeded expectations as a team, but at some point those expectations will be to bring home a trophy. As quickly as Kobe has methodically rebuilt up his reputation, it can be torn down by the failure to bring at least 1 championship to LA. If he wants to be considered one of the best ever, he absolutely must bring home another ring. And soon.