Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Los Angeles Lakers [Print without images]

Monday, February 21, 2011
Kobe Bryant: Man of the people

By Andy Kamenetzky

I wanted to pass along a column I wrote about Kobe Bryant's monster performance at the All-Star Game. The MVP trophy was award, but Bryant claimed zero interest in such honors, nor a statement game in L.A. In a nutshell, I don't believe him. (Bryant's not "lying," just being politically correct.) But that's also fine, because I think this ASG was the perfect forum (and location) to pull out all the stops in pursuit of an epic showing.

The weekend is about giving the people what they want, and as someone inside Staples, I can attest the consensus wish was granted. More power to him.

Here's an excerpt:

On Saturday, Kobe Bryant's hands and feet were immersed in wet cement at Grauman's Chinese Theater, a literal marking of turf in Los Angeles. But with all due respect to his new project with Robert Rodriguez, the Mamba's entertainment domain isn't Hollywood, but the hardwood.

Staples Center, doubling as "The Blake Griffin Show" on Friday and Saturday, sparked the "Whose weekend will it be?" debate among fans and media. After a fine showing at the rookie-sophomore game, not to mention his posterizing of a Kia, it would be understandable to wonder if the scales had tipped in Griffin's favor.

"It's not about that for me at this point in my career," said Bryant when asked if he was trying to remind folks L.A. is still his town. "I've been there, you know what I mean? It's very important for the game to continue to have young stars emerge."

Generous sentiments, to be certain, but Bryant has a funny way of expressing them on the court. In line with his sentiments about metaphorical torches passed to Derrick Rose, Bryant's performance during the West's 148-143 win over the East was a memo to hold off on any local changing of the guard.