One thing’s for damn sure; nobody can say they’re remotely shocked that Kobe Bryant says he was shocked by his two-game suspension for treating Mike Miller’s gullet to some elbow macaroni.
The NBA, the Lakers, their fans, the L.A. media and national suppositories, his wife and apparently the Colorado judicial system has allowed him get away with uncivilized behavior for so long we all figured Bryant was immune to punishment.
Of course, Kobe was “very surprised,” in fact, “very, very surprised” when informed the league was lifting almost 290G from his pay envelope and had no intention of dropping the charges.
Here is Jerry Buss’ Chosen One being worshipped nightly at Staples Center, placed on Pinnacle Peak as Jerry Colangelo’s most coveted recruit to represent the USA in the World Games and Olympics, carrying on a full-court love affair with Coach K. and, in his view, bam, out of nowhere, David Stern suddenly turns on him for simply committing premeditated brutality on a defenseless opponent.
The audacity of VP of Violence Stu Jackson to upgrade the viciousness of his flagrant foul! How dare the commissioner tack on a (insufficient, it says here) penalty! How discourteous not to follow the lead of the three blind mice working last week’s Lakers-Grizzlies game and close his eyes to the Lakers’ latest crime against humanity!
Of course Kobe was shocked; like everyone else he was operating under the distinct impression he had papal permission to headhunt trespasses in the paint, challenges for position in the occupied area, or anyone judged to having hit him intentionally.
Anyone who knows anything about the game realizes that wasn’t the case when Miller drove the lane and got fouled by Kobe, who caught a flapping arm above his eye. As he left the court to get a required three stitches, Kobe loudly and vulgarly alerted Miller, one of his staunchest supporters during Bryant’s sexcapade, he’d be back (shades of Latrell Sprewell and P.J. Carlesimo) for retribution.
Afterward, Kobe was quoted as saying he hit Miller on purpose. That’s automatic grounds for suspension. Retaliation makes it that much worse in the league’s view. The fact it was the fourth elbow he planted into an opponent’s chest or above it in less than two weeks only reinforced the need to launch Kobe into suspended contamination for far longer than a measly two games. Apparently he learned more dirty tricks and grubby behavior than we thought from hanging around Karl Malone.
Afterthought, Part I: Miller’s teammates should’ve been suspended by Memphis management for not coming to the aid of their partner. I’m not saying they should’ve immediately slapped the spit out of Kobe, or blindsided him later on, but someone needed to put his hands on him, the way Richard Jefferson grabbed Nate Robinson after he roughed up Jacque Vaughn. I don’t even think anyone so much as woofed at Kobe, clearly illustrating what the going-nowhere-worthwhile Grizzlies are lacking.
Afterthought, Part II: Kobe’s flagrant foul cost the Lakers two points. L.A. lost to Memphis by one.