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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. pocahontas - Feb 16, 2010 at 5:29 PM

    I believe it is time that you let the RAPIST scenerio go. Find something else to envy.

  2. pocahontas - Feb 16, 2010 at 5:38 PM

    OOPS, where is your team? I would drop charges too if my panties had more than one man’s semen in them. We all need to get a life and find better things to talk about. No money is exchanging in any of our hands and ONLY GOD can judge.

  3. huh? - Feb 16, 2010 at 5:41 PM

    ssweeps – I don’t think his family will starve if his life insurance does not pay out after a helicopter crash. Did you read the part about the 23mil salary?

  4. cloud97408 - Feb 16, 2010 at 5:42 PM


  5. Anonymous - Feb 16, 2010 at 5:46 PM

    No we all in Colorado don’t know the truth, just as you don’t. You was there so you will NEVER know! Like many other gold diggers, at the end of a fun night, she probably didn’t like something he said, so she cried rape.

  6. Mark - Feb 16, 2010 at 5:50 PM

    I don’t even care or want to know anything about the rapist whose money and “celebrity” status lets him get away with everything. Maybe Kobee can finally do something good for the world and at least report the weather while he is up there. Hope he leans too far out the window.

  7. bartman - Feb 16, 2010 at 5:53 PM

    Yet one more example to make me so glad that bush gave him a huge tax cut!

  8. Belinda - Feb 16, 2010 at 5:58 PM

    Couldn’t he just live closer to the arena???

  9. hitman - Feb 16, 2010 at 6:02 PM

    kobe is a bum and always will be just like the rest of the lakers. the lakers last class was with magic and kareem. and by the way kobe’s money bought him out of the dog house with his gold digger wife, just look at the ring he needed to buy to keep her happy and quiet. it is also a shame to mention derek jeter in the same breathe as kobe, derek is a class act and kobe is a classless act.

  10. I Am Providence - Feb 16, 2010 at 6:03 PM

    Thanks for clearing that up. Sounds like someone has a bit of an inferiority complex.

  11. don henderson - Feb 16, 2010 at 6:15 PM

    Wondering: Ever heard of Slander? I think you just did it.

  12. Get Real! - Feb 16, 2010 at 6:23 PM

    I think that is sad ppl are losing those jobs homes and other things. Our country is not balanced at all when it come to money you either got it and have no problems with bill and blow it or you work your tail off with multiple jobs and you still have a hard time making it. So sad…

  13. shooter - Feb 16, 2010 at 6:31 PM

    kobe sucks!!!!

  14. Bill W - Feb 16, 2010 at 6:50 PM

    ssweeps: do you really think Kobe’s kids should worry about collecting on a life insurance policy? I’m guessing as beneficiaries of his estate, his kids would do just fine financially in the event he or he and his wife were to die in a helicopter accident.

  15. E.M.H. - Feb 16, 2010 at 6:57 PM

    What’s the big deal? Deion Sanders did this back in the early 90’s. Granted, in his case it was to get between Falcons and Braves games, but the point is that star athlete’s travelling by air within the city they play in is not unheard of.
    Some executives and business owners do this too. In a gridlocked city like Los Angeles, I’m simply not surprised that someone with the money to air travel does so. My only surprise is that it doesn’t happen *MORE* often; for the rich, it doesn’t cost *that* much. Fractional ownership in a jet can be had for less than a million dollars a year, and I don’t see a helicopter’s fractional share cost being more than a jet’s.

  16. Bill-Sonora - Feb 16, 2010 at 7:00 PM

    Good luck with that.

  17. PC - Feb 16, 2010 at 7:01 PM

    A lot of rich people ride helicopters to work EVERYDAY…not just for home basketball games…research some Fortune 500 CEO’s and see how they get to work…time is money, can’t sit in traffic all morning.
    August Busch III PILOTED his OWN chopper to the St. Louis Brewery everyday the weather was good from his house before he sold Anheuser Busch and retired.
    So Kobe rides in a chopper to work, BFD. We live in a capitalist country and this is how wealth is spent…I’m sure we all would find a way to justify the cost if we had that much money.

  18. SjS - Feb 16, 2010 at 7:02 PM

    If you had bothered to read all of the article it states he lives in Orange County and that his body can’t handle the 2 hour commute dimwit!

  19. jay - Feb 16, 2010 at 7:23 PM

    Kobe lives in Compton. Dawg.

  20. depasquali - Feb 16, 2010 at 7:23 PM

    Kobe is worth every dime that is spent on him. If you don’t agree, don’t watch. He is a true treasure to L.A. Those of you who like to bash him, get over yourself. Find another target. If I did what he did, and did it so well, I would avoid a two hour commute for a helicopter ride.

  21. flat stomach - Feb 16, 2010 at 7:25 PM

    Usually I do not post on blogs, however I would like to voice that this post really forced me to do so! really nice post.

  22. jess - Feb 16, 2010 at 7:28 PM

    No big deal. Celine Dion took a helicopter from lake las vegas to caesars palace for her nightly vegas performances, and she didn’t have to deal with LA traffic. Her priority was minimizing time away from her son, while Kobe’s is minimizing his aches. Frankly, with the cash they’ve got, why even justify it?

  23. Beavis A. Beavis - Feb 16, 2010 at 7:32 PM

    Anyone who criticizes this obviously hasn’t sat in traffic from OC to downtown LA on a weekday afternoon. 2 hours would be a good day. Go back to picking corn out of your ears and sittin’ on the porch playing your banjos. What you people consider “traffic” in the rest of the country is a leisurely Saturday morning jam on the LA freeways.

  24. wow - Feb 16, 2010 at 7:35 PM

    she dropped the charges btw. not rape

  25. mensarino - Feb 16, 2010 at 7:47 PM

    Instead of threatening to never go to another NBA game, I would advise you to go to night school and learn how to write and spell.

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