Before the NBA season, Kobe Bryant decided to invest in a helicopter to drastically cut down his commute time from his home in Newport Coast, CA., to the Lakers El Segundo practice facility (next to LAX) and Staples Center.
Up until this year, Bryant had occasionally chartered a chopper depending on his schedule, but usually commuted via his $250,000 Ferrari. Now, his gravity-impaired days are over thanks to an investment he claims cost him about the same as his italian sports car.
So how long exactly does it take Bryant to now commute 44 miles to the El Segundo practice facility and 49 miles to Staples in downtown L.A.?
The 140 mph helicopter flight from John Wayne Airport in Orange County to LAX lasts 14 minutes. The flight from LAX to the Robert F. Maguire Heliport on Venice Blvd., which is less than a mile from Staples Center, takes four minutes.
Bryant easily spends more time driving from his home in Newport Coast to John Wayne Airport and driving from LAX to El Segundo than he does in the air.
So if that’s such a great deal, why don’t more athletes do something similar?
Beyond the cost of the chopper itself, pilot fees, permits, maintenance and fuel costs are astronomical, so Bryant’s initial investment in the hardware doesn’t tell the whole story. Not even close.
That said, when you’re making $23 million per season and playing for your next contract, as Bryant was coming into this season, spending a half-mil to ensure you’re fresh for games actually may end up being a reasonable investment.