Have you seen this recently released BODYARMOR commercial? It was created and narrated by Kobe Bryant and features James Harden. In it, Kobe says obsession is what separates the bad from the good, the good from the great and the greats from the legends. We can all agree Kobe is a legend. I can spare the resume reading but I want to flashback 20 years ago today to Game 5 of the Lakers and Jazz playoff series.
That Game 5 is mostly known as the Kobe Airball game, since he shot three straight in OT and a total of four in the game. As the 18-year old Kobe walked off the court with his head down, Shaq came over, put his arm around him and told him he’s not upset and he needs to look around at all of the people laughing at him and remember that when they meet again next year. He then told the media he was proud of Kobe because, “He was the only one with enough guts to shoot the ball.”
After the short flight from Utah to LA, the players all went their separate and most probably went to their homes. Kobe went to a local high school named Palisades, found someone to open the doors for him and shot jump-shots all night into the sun came out in the morning.
Six months later, the Lakers season tipped off with a game against the Utah Jazz and Kobe Bryant scored a game-high and highlight-filled 23 points off the bench in a 104-87 win. You know the rest of the story and how it ended with a 60-point game against the Utah Jazz.
Before his retirement, Kobe told the the Daily News he looks back at that airball game “with fond memories” because it was “an early turning point for me in being able to deal with adversity, deal with public scrutiny and self-doubt.” But he admits it was “misery” when the game happened.
Last night, in Game 6 against the Spurs, James Harden had arguably the worst game of his career. Worse than him missing shots (2-11 fg) was him not having enough guts to shoot the ball more. Worse than him not shooting more was him having to watch the final minutes of the 39-point beatdown from the bench since he fouled out earlier.
After the game, he told the media he’s OK and will take the blame for the loss. It was obvious he was OK since he, along with friend/rapper Travis Scott, went to club Set Houston on Travis street for an “after party” concert, where fans chanted ‘M-V-P’ at the MVP candidate.
According to TMZ, they, along with Scott’s rumored girlfriend, 19-year old Kylie Jenner, left and hit a strip club until the sun came out in the morning.
I have absolutely no problem with Harden partying and hanging out with his celebrity friends at strip clubs after a game but I think what he did after his Game 6 disaster compared to what Kobe did perfectly fits with their BODYARMOR commercial: Obsession is what separates the bad from the good, the good from the great and the greats from the legends.