Craig's Court: Kobe's Body Is Different Now

Posted Jan. 8, 2003

Denver's Drew Goodman is a great telecaster. He has a mastery of basketball and baseball announcing that few broadcasters do. He mixes professionalism with the enthusiasm of a true fan of the sports he covers.

Like so many basketball fans, Drew remembers with fondness the Kobe Bryant of the last several years. When Bryant made a nice, somewhat athletic move in the first quarter last night, the Fox Sports Rocky Mountain play-by-play man said, "Kobe is the kind of player who can do anything he wants with his body."

That statement may have been true last year. Not now. The double entendre is obvious. Last year, Kobe scored over 40 points a game with ease and amazing regularity. Last night, he had to take a lot of extra shots to get 27, most of which came in garbage time. There was no explosiveness in his legs. He looked tired.

Kobe Bryant needs help -- on and off the court. He is so clearly not the same man he was a year ago. Neither is he the same basketball player. Bryant's legs looked dead last night as he led a hopeless Laker effort against the Nuggets.

In sharp contrast was Nugget rookie sensation Carmelo Anthony. Denver's 19-year-old star outplayed Bryant, the perennial all-star. How did Kobe take that? Not well. The two men got in a little scuffle that resulted in double technicals. How smart is that? Kobe getting in a near fight with Colorado's rising young superstar.

Carmelo and LeBron are the new smiling personalities of the NBA. You can look all over LeBron James' new big production Nike TV ad without seeing any Kobe (Nike's forgotten man). Remember when Kobe Bryant was last year's omnipresent voice of Sprite spokesman (Obey your thirst.) That account too has gone to the unblemished rookie sensation LeBron James.

Bryant does not look the same physically on the basketball court this year. His pristine body is gone. The previously tattooless body is now covered with the huge markings so common among counterculture types. On his shoulder and arm are stenciled his wife and daughter's names.

Kobe' muscle mass is down. His knee has the slight scar from that fateful summer surgery in Eagle County. His psyche has even greater Colorado scarring. The big broad smile is nonexistent. His ears have to hear the boos. The eyes are sad.

There are other good reasons for this NBA superstar to be morose. Before the Denver game, a member of Bryant's security team apparently met with officers from the Eagle County Sheriff's Dept. regarding threats made against the Lakers superstar, as reported in the Los Angeles Times. According to the Times' story, Bryant's security team may be concerned that any bozo with a rifle could pick off Kobe as he enters the courthouse. There is no shortage of hunters in Eagle County.

NBA superstars are used to arriving at arenas with a drive right to the secure inside of the protected facility. At the Pepsi Center and other NBA arenas, security is tight (especially with the orange alert level). Victims' rights advocates have already made Kobe Bryant a target of their wrath going so far as to hold demonstrations outside the courthouse.

Plenty of dangers await inside the Eagle County courthouse. Many days of complicated motions hearings now loom in January, February and March. I don't think those motions will all be resolved by the end of March and that more months of pre-trial proceedings will be necessary. There is a huge weight on the shoulders of this celebrity defendant and it will be a long time, if ever, before his load will be lightened.

Craig Silverman is a legal analyst for 7NEWS. He will be contributing his thoughts on the Kobe Bryant case in the months to come. He works for the downtown Denver law firm of Silverman and Olivas, P.C., which you can contact through their Web site or by calling (303) 595-0529. You can read Craig's bio here.

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