The Lakers are up 3-1 in their 2009 NBA Finals against the Orlando Magic. Game 5 takes place tonight in Orlando at 8:00 ET. The Lakers have either out-skilled the Magic or reaped the benefits of Stan Van Gundy doing just as sloppy of a job coaching his team as he does dressing himself before games.
None of that is surprising. The Lakers are the favorites, and SVG is easy to make fun of. What is surprising, however, is Kobe Bryant’s new face:
Frightened? Confused? Laughing? Trying to replicate the expression in the mirror?
I wasn’t able to see games 2, 3, or 4, but I did manage to catch game 1, in which the Lakers completely demoralized the Magic, and Kobe went into hit-man mode in the third quarter. He was busting one contested, inadvisable shot after another; it was pretty darn impressive, actually. Then his face started twisting…his jaw began protruding…and he suddenly looked a lot like this:
I’m guessing Kobe has been practicing his “scowl” for months, maybe even years. He has probably stared into the mirror, tried the tongue wag (been done), the nonchalant stare (also done), and the bumbling doofus (I couldn’t resist), but never found one that worked.
Then he watched some of the Celtic’s games in the playoffs. KG, sitting on the bench with a suit on (custom-made suits that fit a 7-footer…probably unbelievably expensive), jutting out his bottom jaw, and making everyone around him either petrified or perplexed.
Kobe: “Heyyyy…yeahhh…that’s cool. KG has street cred. KG won a ring last year.”
Kobe juts out his own bottom jaw.
Kobe: “No, too close to KG’s. I don’t need it to look identical…”
The Laker’s captain then stumbles into an epiphany and opens his mouth. His teeth are so menacing, so fearless, so…gerbil-like. This is the look!
This is clearly yet another case of Kobe trying to cultivate his image. He is the Alex Rodriguez of basketball, carefully crafting his persona. At first he wanted to be Michael Jordan: no tattoos, well-spoken, and classy. Then he decided he needed street cred, got himself inked up, and pulled the spoiled diva move where he asked to be traded out of L.A. despite being treated like a god there.
And now…the scowl. Every superstar has something, right? Magic was smiling. Jordan was tongue-flapping. Bird was…just staring. All the time. Kobe is an unbelievable talent, but he’s not distinctive. He’s not even remotely likable.
But this? Kobe…c’mon. Seriously.
Again, just for emphasis: