So much going on with so little time for Kobe. The weekend coverage of Kobe started with a forced and awkward interview between he and Shaq put together by TNT’s Craig Sager. Kobe Bryant had made comments leading up to this years All-Star weekend that led us to believe that he was not too interested in re-living the Shaq/Kobe drama days. But Shaquille, TNT, and the NBA were not going to let this weekend pass without squeezing every penny out of this promotion.
Kobe Bryant on the other hand was all about the business, not interested in attracting any uneccesary attention to himself. It was Dwayne Wade who was making a fool of himself all wekend long with his ridiculous outfits. It was Lebron James forcing the attention unto himself during the dunk contest proclaming that he will compete next year just as Dwight Howard is trying to complete one of his dunks. And it was Shaq who was buttering up Kobe and the Lakers organization as much as he could all weekend long in hopes of a return to L.A some day.
All while the games biggest star and by far the games best player Kobe Bryant, just tried to have a good time! This being Kobe’s 11th All-Star appearance, he had seen it all before. He’s a veteran to this All-Star weekend thing. Yet in still the NBA’s brightest star could not keep himself hidden, no matter how hard he tried. Say what you want, but this 2009 All-Star Weekend was planned! And Kobe Bryant had nothing to do with the plan, but was however a key component to it. From the very first interview that took place between Kobe & Shaq on Saturday, you could tell that Kobe wanted nothing to do with the Kobe/Shaq marketing adventure the NBA & TNT was about to put in place. But what could he do? It’s not like you can just run and hide when you are the games best player during this kind of event. So Kobe played a good sport through the entire thing and just went along for the ride.
Other than the short interview between Shaq, Kobe, & TNT, between the days of Friday & Saturday before the big All-Star Game on Sunday Kobe Bryant remained low key. Nowhere to be found. No special interviews. No short clips of Kobe on the sidelines during the Dunk contest. Nothing! It was as if Kobe Bryant was sending a message to the rest of the NBA world. “I’m all about business this year! I’m GOING to win that Championship this year! You guys can have your All-Star Weekend. I’m getting ready for June.”
Then came the big game on Sunday. In an interview shortly before the game with Craig Sager Kobe was quoted as stating that he was looking forward to having a good time on the court, and getting the younger guys involved! What we witnessed during the game was Kobe Bryant being so much better than the rest of the competition, that he ended up scoring 27 points (the game high) without even really wanting to! It’s as if he went out there to remain low key but found himself so wide open on many occasions that he had to shoot the ball. And of course many of those shots went right in.
A few spectacular plays here and there, and before you knew it the Western All-Star team was dominating and it was obvious which player had the biggest impact. Kobe Bryant played a total of 29 minutes and scored a total of 27 points. Making him the obvious choice for the MVP of the All-Star game. But wait a minute! The NBA had something different in mind. Giving Shaquille O’neal the MVP award as well after playing 11 minutes and scoring 17 points. Perfect ending right? Kobe & Shaq happy together again, raising another trophy together at the end of the game?
It may be a perfect ending for Shaquille, TNT, Comissioner David Stern and the rest of the NBA. But not for Kobe! You see Kobe Bryant does not forget about all the things Shaquille O’neal has said about him to the public! He will never forget. Kobe knows that those are not just “marketing schemes” put up by the Lakers. (see video below). I don’t think so Shaq! You won’t get away that easy after making Kobe Bryant your fall guy in L.A for the past 4 years. You won’t get away that easy after your little rap incident in New York this past off-season. If there is one thing we learned about Kobe this past weekend, it’s that he wants nothing to do with Shaquille O’neal and his baggage.
Who’s the real MVP of this game?
It was Kobe Bryant! And to be honest giving the award to Shaq and Kobe was completely wrong on the NBA’s part. Kobe Bryant deserved that award. Not Shaq. He had the biggest impact on the game. Instead Kobe Bryant is forced to mark yet another piece of his great basketball career with a “Big Shaq Asterisk” when Kobe could have done it on his own anyway!
In conclusion, we can probably predict that Kobe Bryant is looking forward to erasing the 2009 All-Star Weekend from his memory. And begin focusing again on winning a title this year with this current Laker team. And for all you hopefulls who think that there will be a Shaq return to L.A, take this weekend to learn what Kobe Bryant thinks about the whole thing!