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Congressman Jason Chaffetz implies Kobe Bryant is ignorant in bid to end House resolutions honoring sports teams

May 31, 2010 | 12:28 pm

Well, congressman, you've gotten your 15 minutes of fame. But do you really want to be remembered this way? In an apparent effort to garner attention for his efforts to end House resolutions honoring sports teams, Utah Republican Congressman Jason Chaffetz suggested Lakers guard Kobe Bryant was, in some respects, ignorant.

"We recognized Kobe Bryant last year, but does Kobe Bryant even know who his congressperson is?" Chaffetz recently said to Fox News. "Can he even point to Washington, D.C., on a map? I don't think these people even care, yet we're spending all this time and resources on it."

Hmmm, it seems the Jazz's three consecutive playoff series losses to the Lakers still aren't sitting well with some.

You can call Bryant many things, but to suggest he's ignorant is just absurd. He speaks English, Spanish and Italian and spent most of his childhood in Italy. He's made plenty of trips to Asia, including sharing basketball know-how with kids while promoting his shoe as well as for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. And Bryant knew enough about the location of D.C. to make it to the White House in February when President Obama honored the Lakers' 2009 championship season.

No doubt, Chaffetz singled out Bryant knowing that his name recognition would result in his comments receiving more play and perhaps more support for Chaffetz's cause.  Hence, this blog post. Chaffetz's cause, though, is a debatable one.

To say that these resolutions and ceremonies don't mean much to teams are unfounded. It was obvious the White House trip meant something to the Lakers, for whom it wasn't just a break amid a grinding schedule but a reminder to keep their eye on the championship prize. 

Chaffetz says society overemphasizes sports at the expense of more serious issues. Perhaps true, but routine resolutions take up little time and few resources. It's just a nice gesture to honor the success of various sports teams. There's rarely any debate, partly because people know there are more important issues to debate (unless, say, you're U.S. Rep. Marion Berry [D-Ark.], and you feel you're taking a principled stance by not honoring the Syracuse men's lacrosse team).

It seems like the time Chaffetz is spending on this issue could be better used to ponder serious matters -- healthcare, perhaps? The oil spill? The national debt?

Talk about dropping the ball.

-- Mark Medina

Follow the L.A. Times Lakers blog on Twitter: twitter.com/latmedina. E-mail the Lakers blog at mgmedin@gmail.com.


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