Never really been a big fan of Kobe Bryant off the court. But he won my respect with his recent, appropriately prickly treatment of the most unpopular man in Los Angeles, *Mayor* Antonio Villaraigosa.
(What Jackson Browne was singing about)
Villaraigosa is reviled in L.A. as a do-nothing buffoon and consumate media whore. The mayor, who had to take classes to learn Spanish as an adult, co-oped his (former) wife’s last name (Raigosa) to sound more Latino. He then cheated on Ms. Raigosa with a throwaway local TV newsreader - but continues to attach her name to his. He’s since moved on to another yocal TV news dingbat, and is currently on a taxpayer-funded junket in Africa with the woman. You can’t make this stuff up.
So I was heartened to see Bryant’s seriously off-color reax to Villaraigosa’s attempt to glom on to the Lakers’ championship afterglow.Betty Pleasant of WaveNewspapers.com reports that sources who were at the Lakers championship parade a couple weeks ago heard Bryant call Villaraigosa an “a–h—” for trying to “pimp my popularity.”Pleasant doesn’t specify that Bryant dropped an “A-H” on the mayor, but my sources tell me that was the word he used.Excerpt from Pleasant’s “Soulvine”:
Much to the delight of some high-powered onlookers, Lakers great Kobe Bryant confronted Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa at the start of last week’s jam-packed Lakers victory parade and added a whole new dimension to the day’s festivities. According to mesmerized eyewitness accounts, this is what happened: The City Council members were told to arrive at the parade staging area at 10 a.m. last Wednesday so they could get on the bus and ride in the parade. They boarded the bus at 10:30 a.m. and were still waiting to roll at 11 a.m. The council members, as well as the general public, became antsy and demanded to know what was the hold up and why was it taking so long to get the parade under way. (Some of the more fair-skinned council members were particularly annoyed, sitting in the sun, as they were.)The cause of the hold-up was occurring adjacent to the locker room, where Kobe was refusing to ride on the City Council bus because the mayor was to ride on it. At the same time, the mayor, the consummate spotlight thief, was refusing to get on the City Council bus unless he got on with Kobe. Kobe loudly denounced the mayor in phrases that started with “I don’t like the …” and ended with “I’m not going to let him pimp my popularity!”The impasse ended and the parade started after Kobe got on the team bus and the mayor was sneaked onto the same bus behind Kobe’s back by a couple of his teammates. As the team bus approached Georgia Street, it was greeted by about 100 city workers who had labored throughout the previous day and night preparing the Coliseum for the rally. The bus stopped in front of them and the hard-working crew went ballistic for the team and shouted and cheered like they’d lost their minds. Then the mayor popped up from among the players and waved to the group, which suddenly turned silent, as if a spigot had been turned off. They say the effect was quite chilling. And these were all city employees, who probably know the mayor better than we do.
But wait, there’s more!Bryant then absolutely crushed Villaraigosa (again) during ceremonies inside the Coli with a huge snub in front of 100,000 revelers. Check out Ms. Pleasant’s post for more fun details.Now some of you may think that perhaps Bryant was just being an arrogant a$$, and would’ve accused anyone that day of trying to hog the spotlight. But then, you don’t live in L.A. and understand what a debacle the mayor’s office has become.The more I hear from Bryant, the more I think the guy is a media junkie. When he does lame-o sports radio interviews, he is always well-informed about everything. He quite obviously cares deeply about what is written and spoken about him in the main media. Along with current events, clearly.So, is this a sign that the Internet age is making athletes a little more aware of what goes on around them - and a little less narcissistic?Nah. Bryant is probably a special case. If you don’t believe me, just “follow” Ochocinco on Twitter. *Device updates OFF*