SI features Kobe Bryant
In the June 22nd issue of Sports Illustrated (I believe that's the one on newsstands now), Chris Ballard has an interesting profile of Kobe's run through the Finals. Since not everyone- myself included- keeps subscriptions up to date, I thought I'd pass it along. An excerpt:
"...His performance in these Finals was memorable not necessarily for the bursts of scoring (though of course there were those) but for the moments that revealed both his evolution as a player and his near-desperate desire to win. The way he wrestled with Orlando's Rashard Lewis, elbowing and hooking and kneeing when he had to switch onto the 6'10" forward; the way he bared his teeth after big plays, like a feral animal; the way he dominated not only with baskets but also with passes—Bryant had nearly twice as many assists as any other player in the Finals. Though he would never admit it, his willingness to play whatever role his team needed may have reflected Bryant's awareness that the era of LeBron James and Dwight Howard is at hand, and that the best way for him to stay relevant, since he can't do it by sheer force of personality, is by winning.
So he gave himself over to this one goal as never before—which is saying a lot for Kobe. He shut down communication during the Finals, ignoring most phone calls and cutting off e-mail. He became so ornery that his two young daughters took to calling him Grumpy, from Snow White. And he sought nothing less than a similar commitment from his teammates. When 21-year-old center Andrew Bynum came out lackluster in Game 3, Bryant lit into him during a timeout, loud enough that a sideline reporter could overhear, "Get your head in the f------ game." This was not the soft, cuddly Bryant we were served up last month in ESPN's Spike Lee documentary Kobe Doin' Work. Rather, this was Kobe actually doing work. And it was far more compelling..."
There's a lot in the piece about both Kobe's approach and process as well, always interesting because it opens another window to see why Kobe is who he is.
(Thanks to BallerBlogger for the tip.)