Player of the D.A.Y.

By Sam Rubenstein

This is my way of honoring Kobe’s 65 point game against the Blazers. It happened on Friday night, and today is Tuesday. Those two events have no connection, so this is a way to go above and beyond the call of duty to give him his award.

His lightning rod-ness is truly amazing. Everybody loves him or hates him, and if you say anything about him, everybody instantly either loves you or hates you too. I’m not even talking about myself or Lang or Khalid or any public figure. I mean, you can have this conversation with your friends while innocently watching a game together, and they turn ugly fast. Trust me, I’ve been there.

I was watching Barack Obama on the Larry King show last night, a black man with a legitimate chance to become the President of the United States, and the thought hit me that he is not as controversial as Kobe Bryant. How crazy is that? (Hillary Clinton is more Kobe-like with her polarization, but even that is debateable.)

My take on Kobe the basketball player is simple. I enjoy “playing the right way” team basketball as much as the next guy, but I also enjoy the virtuoso performance. There is room for both. Kobe Bryant just happens to be talented enough to be able to shoot over triple teams and have these amazing nights when he could just as easily reel the defense in and find the wide-open man. It’s not really the ideal we are taught about sports as little kids, how it’s important to share, be respectful, listen to what you are taught, and so on. There is a part of sports where you want to go out and crush your enemy, and Kobe is the best at it.

65 points against the Portland Trailblazers, getting hotter as the game went on in the fourth and into the two overtimes, with his team on a losing streak with no end in sight. Player of the D.A.Y.