Like much of the United States and possibly the world I am on lockdown because of COVID – 19. I have two jobs and both have shut down for the last five weeks due to government orders to prevent the spread of the plague. This has given me a lot of time to catch up on reading. I checked out the biography Showboat: The Life of Kobe Bryant shortly after the NBA star died and I didn’t get around to beginning the book until the quarantine in March.
I am an NBA fan but Kobe was never my guy. He didn’t play for my team which is the Detroit Pistons. I have chanted BEAT LA in my living room many, many times. Most of that energy was directed towards Kobe. When Kobe died on January 26 I was shocked and saddened. Even though I’ve never been a Kobe fan I respect his success and I appreciate what he did for the game for twenty years.
This biography is very well written, well researched and detail oriented. This book is essentially an NBA history that focused on the late 90s to the mid 2010s. There are accounts of injuries, trades, games and series. The book is a little less than six hundred pages so it is a long and at times dry read.
I enjoy NBA but the minutiae of this book was a bit much for me. I was disappointed that the author only devoted a paragraph or two to the 2004 Laker loss to the Detroit Pistons. I was looking forward to reliving that in print but the author glossed over that glorious event. But overall I enjoyed the book because it cleared up some of the folklore surrounding Kobe’s relationship with Vanessa, his mother and father and Shaquille O’Neal. And yes, the rape trial was discussed.
This book reinforced all of my previous notions about Kobe Bryant. He was an aloof man and fierce competitor. Kobe Bryant was not a nice guy. He didn’t really get along with anyone once he became a star. But that wasn’t important to him. Winning was. He was meticulous in everything he did and was a diligent worker. Kobe had no patience for people around him that didn’t live up to his standards and people were easily discarded.
Kobe also didn’t like to share the spotlight with others. He didn’t want to share the spotlight with Shaquille O’Neal or Phil Jackson. LA wasn’t big enough for all of them. He never wanted it to be said that he needed them in order to be successful. Kobe was a lot like a 1980s night time soap opera villain that was motivated by a single goal and he didn’t let anything get in his way. Even though Kobe wasn’t warm and fuzzy I did like him more after reading this book. I respect the man’s drive and passion.
I also disliked him more after reading this book. By all accounts Kobe was a prick and so is his wife. He stabbed Shaquille O’Neal in the back more than once. He threw his coach Phil Jackson under the bus. He turned his back on his parents and siblings and cut them off financially before marrying his wife Vanessa and buying a beautiful new home for her mother who was in financial straits before her daughter married the NBA star. No one really seemed to get along with Kobe. As an NBA fan I kind of already knew that.
I did learn some new details about Kobe’s life but there wasn’t a lot of new information for me in this book. It’s fun to relive some of the NBA history that was written about in this book. I enjoyed the dirt that the book shared on Kobe’s personal entanglements. The author did a good job of giving us a backstage look at NBA life. I would recommend the book if you’re an NBA fan. You will enjoy it and it might make up for the NBA Playoffs being postponed.