By now, I am sure you have seen Kobe Bryant’s miraculous game winning shot against the Miami Heat. On Saturday, in front of a raucous crowd (Yes, Laker fans are capable of becoming raucous in the last ten seconds of epic games), Kobe “Black Mamba” Bryant was locked in an epic duel with Dwayne “Flash” Wade, known in Los Angeles circles as a “poor man’s Kobe”. Said one Hollywood producer sitting court side, “Kobe is the best ever. He is better at his job than anyone else in the world is at their job. Kobe can do anything. In fact, I could have Kobe play Malcolm X and it would be great. Wade? I wouldn’t let him do a guest spot on Malcolm in the Middle.” Now, it’s common knowledge that the Miami Heat won a championship a few years ago and that Wade is in no way as good as Kobe, this game was close in score only because Kobe’s supporting cast and coach are inferior to Wade’s. That being said, anyone who hasn’t been in a coma for the last decade could have told you how it would end. Indeed, how it always ends. Kobe doin’ work. The Laker legend beat the buzzer with an off-balance 3 pointer to win the game by one point. And then he did that thing where instead of smiling or looking happy to win the game, he stood there scowling hard as hell, eyes squinting, overbite dangerously intense. Just letting you know, if you still don’t get it : “I’M A BADASS”. Upon my tenth replay of his gamewinner, I actually listened to the question that ESPN’S Scott Van Pelt was asking. On the highlight reel, as Bryant’s shot goes in off the glass, the news anchor asks in bewilderment and SHOUTS as if this has just happened live “IS THERE ANYTHING HE CAN’T DO!!!???”
It’s a valid question. Is there anything in this universe that he cannot do? Hyperbole aside, he is obviously the most accomplished man on this planet at this moment. So, I decided to compare this Maestro of the hardwood to previous giants of history, even though it goes without saying that Kobe would shit on them all in a game of one on one. For this, our first installment, let’s see if Mahatma Gandhi can stand up to KB24.
WORLDLINESS: Gandhi went to South Africa and earned his law degree. He applied his education and the lessons he learned here to come up with a course of action to remove the hated British empire from India.
Kobe grew up in Italy and used his Italian macking skills to pick up chicks when he moved to grimy ass Philadelphia. Soon after, he would take Brandy to his high school prom. Nowadays, Kobe speaks to Pau Gasol in Italian because everyone is too scared to tell him Pau is Spanish.
RESUME: Gandhi, known as the father of India and synonymous with non-violent struggle, his is the story of a man who defeated an evil empire single-handedly. His face is on every Indian bill of currency. One negative is swirling rumours of being an adulterer.
Kobe, known as the father of Natalia and Gianna (Italian names of course) and loyal husband to Vanessa, has won 4 championships, 2 scoring titles, 1 Finals M.V.P, 1 regular season M.V.P, 3 all-star game M.V.Ps and been named an All-Star 11 times. He is the face of the N.B.A, sports and America.
Kobe showed he can roll with the punches when he transitioned flawlessly from the Shaq era to The Kobe era. He never hung his head, belittled his owner or insulted his teammates – instantly becoming a beloved leader and role model. He kept Laker fans happy by scoring 81 points against the defensive minded juggernaut Toronto Raptors in the most important game in Laker history. Gandhi, on the other hand, rode Jawaharlal Nehru’s coat tails (yes, the Nehru suit’s) too long and looked lost without Nehru’s sage wisdom. Basketball wise, it would have been like the Mahatma lost his big man and resorted to chucking shots up from 3-point land. Ignoring open teammates. Being a gunner. Being SELFISH.
While Gandhi refused to amend his principles of Ahimsa (non-violence) and peace, Kobe has adapted and improved his game each summer. While Gandhi fasted for weeks and walked all the way to the ocean to make his own salt, Bryant has hired Tim Grover, formerly Michael Jordan’s trainer and nutritionist. Says Grover, “Kobe doesn’t fast or take long walks because I have him on a high protein diet that results in superior energy levels that we schedule his workout regimen around. Kobe probably burns in one hourly session with me the same number of calories Gandhi burned in his entire trek to the ocean. And I will tell you this- Kobe would have gotten to the ocean maybe twenty times as fast as Gandhi. FACT. And with a lot more left in the tank. The guy is a FREAK OF NATURE. His motor just keeps going…”
The task of comparing two of the giants of the last century is by no means easy but there is a source who knows both men well. Phil Jackson has coached Bryant for ten seasons and has read the book Gandhi six times (even giving it to Lamar Odom for Christmas 2007). Phil’s take on the debate was as objective as possible, “Well, it’s always tough to compare different eras. Different rules. Different challenges. However, I will say that the things Kobe is doing right now, I would say that we haven’t seen this kind of sustained excellence since the Beatles run in the 1960s. And think about this…The Beatles changed their sound in late 1965 because they realized that the best are always trying to improve. They keep tinkering. They keep working at it. That’s what makes Kobe Kobe. This summer he added an array of new post up moves. Last summer, he improved his mid range game. He is relentless. Quite frankly, Mahatma should thank his lucky stars that Kobe wasn’t fighting for the British.”
Millenniums from now, it will be painfully obvious that Kobe Bryant was far more accomplished, successful and well-rounded than Mahatma Gandhi. For now, people will act like it’s close. Still, realists know that Gandhiji could never swagger like this.
Next week, MAMBA VERSUS EINSTEIN: THIS TIME IT’S RELATIVE.