Kobe Bryant made the news not for shooting the Los Angeles Lakers out of a winnable game on Thursday against the Miami Heat, but for spending 90 minutes after the game putting up shots at the American Airlines Arena. As Andrew Sharp wrote, it's simply the latest sign that Kobe is a sociopath -- not in the worst sense of the word, but by the textbook definition.
Reporters are gushing about Kobe's work ethic; the excellent Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports was one of the shooting session's witnesses, and his account speaks to all of the right reasons Kobe does something like this. But in focusing on those right reasons, Woj leaves out what many of us skeptical of Kobe's better intentions see.
That Kobe is obsessed with making sure everyone knows he works hard.
Here is a semi-comprehensive history of Kobe practicing in front of cameras.
2006: Some two and a half years after rape charges brought against Kobe in Colorado were dropped, Bryant appears in his first Nike ad since the scandal had begun. The spot features Kobe working out and shooting. My, what a no-nonsense hard-worker he is!
2008: Kobe works with ESPN and Spike Lee to produce a documentary on how hard Kobe works. It's aptly titled Kobe Doin' Work. ESPN airs it without commercial interruption during the 2009 NBA Playoffs.
2009: Kobe spends time after the 2008-09 season -- during which Kobe won his fourth NBA championship -- working out with the legendary Hakeem Olajuwon. A local TV station happens to be invited to a session. NBA TV, ESPN and TNT eventually gain rights to air the footage during preseason in 2009 and the early part of the season.
2011: Kobe spends 90 minutes after getting beaten by the Miami Heat working out in an empty (except for all those pesky reporters) American Airlines Arena. Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports that there was a private practice court available to Kobe, and practicing there would have caused much less imposition on arena employees and Heat officials. But reporters with cameras and Twitter accounts weren't allowed in the private court, so ...
People still hound LeBron James for the self-stroking spectacle that was The Decision. The Heat still take tomatoes for the supposed championship rally that followed The Decision. Yet Kobe Bryant, a man with nothing left to prove, preens in a sweaty t-shirt and we all sit there and marvel and drool. I guess gratuitous ego-stroking just isn't as offensive if it's shrouded in populism. Spare me.