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I live near Hollywood.  Even though I am not a Laker fan, I do understand the hoopla and fanaticism for the Los Angeles Lakers.  My question is, why was Laker player Kobe Bryant honored at Grauman’s Chinese Theater?  He was allowed to put his hands and feet in wet cement.  This is an honor that is usually reserved for the likes of actors, musicians, or television and radio personalities.  Michael Jordan is more deserving.  At least he was in the movie “Space Jam.”  So, why Kobe?

Theater founder Sid Grauman’s mother Rosa was the first person who did not have an entertainment background to be immortalized in concrete, but by breaking tradition will this start a trend?  Even former Laker Shaquille O’Neal had more bragging rights to be in this position.  Granted he made some terrible films “Steel,” “Kazaam,” and “Freddy Got Fingered,” among others, but at least he deserved to be there.  Kobe DOES not!

Broad stroking sports as a form of entertainment is the only way to wedge this school of thought into the event.  Last month, Jeru Tillman of the Southfield Village Entertainment stated:

“Today’s athletes are among the best known and most talented entertainers in the world. We are pleased Kobe will be honored for the many years of enjoyment he has given us on the basketball court.”

Isn’t the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts a more appropriate place for this?  I know Kobe needs to be retired to qualify for the Hall of Fame, but do it there not in Los Angeles.  It’s quite possible LA is trying to capitalize on the fact that the NBA All-Star Game was being played in Los Angeles.  Whatever the reason, it cheapens the ceremony, and makes the event look like a joke.  What’s next?  An Academy Award for Best Dunk During a Regular Season Game?

This is what the famous shooting guard had to say during the ceremony for the event.
“This is a tremendous honor,” he said. “I feel extremely honored to be able to do this. It’s never something I actually thought about when I was watching movies. I never thought my hand and footprints would be sitting right here at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre.”
Hey Kobe, no one else thought your hand and footprints would be sitting at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre either!  I hear Sarah Palin or Tiger Woods may be next!

I think what upsets me personally is Kobe is not a squeaky-clean model citizen.  Shouldn’t a hero to the masses be somewhat faultless?  Let’s look at a list of accomplishments and records made by Kobe Bryant in the sport of basketball.

*5-time NBA champion: 2000, 2001, 2002, 2009, 2010
*NBA Most Valuable Player: 2008
*2-time scoring champion: 2006, 2007
*10-time NBA All-Star: 1998, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008
:*Has started in each of his appearances
:*10 consecutive appearances (No All-Star game in 1999 due to league-wide lock-out)
*4-time NBA All-Star Game MVP: 2002, 2007, 2009, 2011
*10-time All-NBA Selection:
:*First Team: 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008
:*Second Team: 2000, 2001
:*Third Team: 1999, 2005
*8-time All-Defensive Selection:
:*First Team: 2000, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008
:*Second Team: 2001, 2002
*NBA All-Rookie Second Team: 1997
*NBA Slam Dunk Contest champion: 1997
*NBA regular season leader in:
:*points: 2003 (2,461), 2006 (2,832, 7th in NBA history), 2007 (2,430), 2008 (2,323)
:*points per game: 2006 (35.4, 9th in NBA history), 2007 (31.6)
:*field goals attempted: 2006 (2,173), 2007 (1,757), 2008 (1,690)
:*field goals made: 2003 (868), 2006 (978), 2007 (813)
:*free throws attempted: 2006 (819), 2007 (768)
:*free throws made: 2006 (696), 2007 (667)
*2nd most points in a Game: 81 (January 22, 2006 vs. the Toronto Raptors)
*Gold medal with Team USA, 2007 FIBA Americas Championship
*Gold medal with Team USA, 2008 Summer Olympic Games

NBA records
Kobe Bryant holds four and shares five NBA records:
* Most three-point field goals made, one game: 12 (January 7, 2003 vs. Seattle Supersonics; shared with Donyell Marshall)
* Most three-point field goals made, one half: 8 (March 28, 2003 vs. Washington Wizards; shared with 6 players).
* Most free throws made, one quarter: 14 (3rd quarter, December 20, 2005 vs. Dallas Mavericks; shared with 6 players).
* Most free throws attempted, one quarter: 16 (3rd quarter, December 20, 2005 vs. Dallas Mavericks; shared with 6 players).
* Youngest Slam Dunk champion: (18 years, 175 days), after winning the contest at the 1997 NBA All-Star Weekend.
* Youngest player to be named to the NBA All-Defensive Team: (1999-00)
* Youngest player to start a game: (18 years, 158 days)

Other awards and achievements
* Gold Medal with Team USA, Tournament of Americas Olympic Qualifiers
* 1996 Naismith High School Player of the Year
* 1996 Gatorade Circle of Champions High School Player of the Year

I will say this is impressive.  He is also quite a philanthropist.  Bryant does a lot of charitable work and helps inner city kids and children in other countries who are disadvantaged.  He does sponsor scholarships and does believe in giving back.  These are admiral qualities to be sure.

Yet, there are a few things that have dogged Kobe for years.  He is famous for being a ball hog on the court.  His on again, off again feuds with former Laker teammates Saquille O’Neal and Karl Malone are legendary.  Finally, an incident that happened in Colorado will never quite go away.

This comes from Newsone.com:
In the summer of 2003 NBA superstar Kobe Bryant was arrested for the rape of a 19-year old hotel employee in Colorado. Bryant admitted to an adulterous sexual encounter with his accuser, but denied the assault allegation. The case was dropped after the accuser declined to testify in the trial, and a civil suit was settled out of court. Kobe lost several endorsement deals, but was able purchase his wife’s forgiveness with a $4 million diamond ring. Basketball fans are also back on his side thanks to his role in leading the Lakers to an NBA Championship in 2009 and 2010.

The criminal case was dropped, but the civil case was settled out of court.  Bryant said he just wanted to get it behind him, but that will never be the case.  If you were a huge sports figure, you would want to make sure your name is clear and marketable.  Paying someone off, when you have the funds to defend yourself, is admitting something happened.

So, let’s get back to the question, why is Kobe being lionized in cement?  Someone’s walking around with a big fat wallet today.  Who’s the next non-entertainment person to be preserved in this legendary sidewalk art?  My vote goes to Charles Manson and O.J. Simpson. (Wait! He was in the “Naked Gun” movies!)  Both did wonders for Los Angeles, they made headlines on a daily basis and kept California in the limelight for quite sometime.

Okay, I’m spent and I’m done complaining, but there are limits, boundaries, and rules that should be followed.  When they are broken for the express purpose of capitalizing on a moment, it makes special events appear ordinary and ruins a lot of hopes and dreams that some individuals aspire to.  Let those dreams stay in the category where they belong.

Kobe Bryant I do not hate you, but you do not belong in Sid Grauman’s cement.

Namtar out!