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Kobe's ride: a helicopter

Feb 16, 2010, 12:51 PM EDT

Thumbnail image for nba_bryant2_250.jpgIf you make $23 million a year with your body, taking a helicopter to work is actually quite practical.

That may be my favorite line this year, and it comes from GQ’s profile of Kobe Bryant (via TrueHoop). Personally, I would take a helicopter to work if I made $23 million. Except my commute is to my living room most mornings, but even then I still I might do it.

Maybe no other player in the NBA could pull this off. Kobe can do it because he is Kobe and because he lives in Los Angeles. The city worships him and the city has no fear of excess — if you are going to go over-the-top in LA, you have to do better than just taking a helicopter to work. We expect our excess to be more salacious than that.

And Kobe has a good reason, anyway. He always has a reason.

This is how the 31-year-old co-captain of the Lakers, the eleven-time All-Star, the four-time world champion, the most prolific and accomplished scorer currently drawing breath and an NBA paycheck, commutes. He takes a private helicopter from Orange County, where he lives with his wife and two children, to every home game. It’s a nice dash of glitz, a touch of showbiz that goes well with the Hollywood sign in the hazy distance. But sexy as it might seem, Bryant says the helicopter is just another tool for maintaining his body. It’s no different than his weights or his whirlpool tubs or his custom-made Nikes. Given his broken finger, his fragile knees, his sore back and achy feet, not to mention his chronic agita, Bryant can’t sit in a car for two hours. The helicopter, therefore, ensures that he gets to Staples Center feeling fresh, that his body is warm and loose and fluid as mercury when he steps onto the court.

What makes Kobe fascinating — what a writer of the caliber of J.R. Moehringer (Andre Agassi’s biography “Open”) does a good job getting at in this piece — is that you can’t sum up Kobe simply. We want our athletes to fit into neat little stereotypes, but Kobe is too complex a person to do that with. He is not simple, he takes time to understand, and even then you really don’t understand him completely.

The article traces Kobe’s career through his various injuries — up to and including his current broken finger that is “three different shades of purple and five kinds of black.” But that is just to tie the narrative together, the goal is to paint a picture of Kobe the person. As much as that could ever be done. The article is worth reading because it comes as close as anyone has.

Although at the end you still won’t understand the man.

  1. Anonymous - Feb 16, 2010 at 1:46 PM

    The total cost is probably anywhere from $50,00-100,000.00, in Kobes world that is chump change.I see no problem with this, he
    is the the best in the game and he is paid on a premium bases and he delivered a championship, he is the best.

  2. Lakerfantothebone - Feb 16, 2010 at 2:39 PM

    Good for him, he can do that, he gets pretty good money and people pay to see him, imagine if all the fans of one game will pay 20.00 towards saving or paying off a house that would make a family so happy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

  3. Andrew - Feb 16, 2010 at 3:08 PM

    Since it doesn’t seem to hurt his game, cool beans for him. Stimulate that economy Kobe.

  4. Patrick - Feb 16, 2010 at 3:31 PM

    I think it’s every not ever

  5. Scott - Feb 16, 2010 at 3:44 PM

    Where are all the Hollywood types complaining that Kobe is contributing to Global Warming? Excuse me, now that the country, and the East in particular, has seen record amounts of snow, I mean Global Climate Change…

  6. dafree210 - Feb 16, 2010 at 3:44 PM

    what a waste that money cud be going to Hati or one of those Aids caring country..but it his money ..I wacth sports on TV never will i go to another live game unless “MIKE JORDAN is resurected

  7. Wondering - Feb 16, 2010 at 3:44 PM

    He is a complex person, huh? Does the story discuss how he is a rapist?

  8. rr - Feb 16, 2010 at 3:44 PM

    Wow, so that means that if I was to challenge Kobe to an olympic car sitting event, I’d come back with the Gold and whoop his a$$.
    That’s such a crock. Just say that it sucks to drive in LA so if you have the money, don’t use cars.

  9. JB - Feb 16, 2010 at 3:49 PM

    Kurt, The lakers are the one who pay for Kobe’s helicopter. Kobe doesn’t use his own money. It was mentioned not to long as it being one of the perks for kobe.

  10. brooklyn kid - Feb 16, 2010 at 4:09 PM

    The man delivered the ring, Obama should drive him there.
    Wait until Shaq hears about this, he will sheet his
    big ole draws, the one with Superman on it….

  11. Michael Whip - Feb 16, 2010 at 4:12 PM

    He did not rape anyone did you not follow the case? I can post a link if you would like—-ask Mike Tyson who at the time made more money in 1 fight then Bryant makes in a season—so dont pull the celebrity card with Bryant—Tyson also made a boatload of people a boatload of money———-I guess I can say you raped me and some tool like you would believe me

  12. Michael Whip - Feb 16, 2010 at 4:13 PM

    He did not rape anyone did you not follow the case? I can post a link if you would like—-ask Mike Tyson who at the time made more money in 1 fight then Bryant makes in a season—so dont pull the celebrity card with Bryant—Tyson also made a boatload of people a boatload of money———-I guess I can say you raped me and some tool like you would believe me

  13. bw - Feb 16, 2010 at 4:14 PM

    That just the way the big dogs roll in LA. If you could you’d roll the same way

  14. brooklyn kid - Feb 16, 2010 at 4:14 PM

    Almost all Sport teams have these perks for their guy’s, you think Derek Jeter doesn’t have his perks, you think he shares a room with
    a teamate, he has a suite, bigger than my house.

  15. BK - Feb 16, 2010 at 4:16 PM

    You’re kidding right? There’s no correlation between the two.

  16. Watcher - Feb 16, 2010 at 4:21 PM

    @ Wondering, who said he’s a rapist. He wasn’t guilty of that crime. The women was a misguided gold digger…get a clue. she was deserving of what she got.

  17. MarkL - Feb 16, 2010 at 4:27 PM

    plus…if you’ve ever been for a helicopter ride…it is too kool…
    and probably helps quiet his mind as well…its a hoot..!!

  18. Reba - Feb 16, 2010 at 4:29 PM

    As long as the taxpayers don’t pay, that’s all that matters. And one commenter is right, he is a D O G !!! He may be a good player but he is a bottom-dweller as a person! Ugh, just hearing his name is enough to lose your appetite.

  19. Toby Harris - Feb 16, 2010 at 4:38 PM

    Does he pilot the helicopter, or does Air Jordan?

  20. ssweeps - Feb 16, 2010 at 4:39 PM

    Kobe–remember if that heli crashes and you die, life insurance DOES NOT PAY! It is not a regularly scheduled flight. Check your policy. Ask your agent. WE DID. Never have both parents fly on the same flight. If it crashes the kids get ZERO!

  21. :) - Feb 16, 2010 at 4:58 PM

    Go Lakers….

  22. :) - Feb 16, 2010 at 5:01 PM

    If only he had the pilot pick up the rest of the team, they would be undefeated….

  23. We Are Not L.A.! - Feb 16, 2010 at 5:03 PM

    I’m sick of these dummies that write these articles and the first thing they get wrong is saying Kobe lives in L.A. Kobe does NOT live in L.A, he lives in Newport Beach which is in Orange County!

  24. USofaKingWeToddDid - Feb 16, 2010 at 5:10 PM

    Reba,
    Bottom dweller? Really? Lose your appetite? Child Please, You cannot remember the last time your fat ass has never lost your appetite. Shut the hell up and go make me some cookies.

  25. Windforest - Feb 16, 2010 at 5:23 PM

    To Watcher and Michael Whip who wrote:He did not rape anyone did you not follow the case? I can post a link if you would like—-ask Mike Tyson who at the time made more money in 1 fight then Bryant makes in a season—so dont pull the celebrity card with Bryant—Tyson also made a boatload of people a boatload of money———-I guess I can say you raped me and some tool like you would believe me
    Yes he did. You need to read for comprehension. She dropped charges as most rape victims do. He settled in civil court with an apology. ” I thought it was consensual, it is apparent to me now she did not. I am deeply sorry for the pain I have caused.”
    we in Colorado know the truth and if he played for us..he would be gone.

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