Even though Hollywood’s team took to the road as the Oscars invaded Tinseltown, Kobe Bryant had quite the Oscar weekend in dogged pursuit of his own golden trophy. Ben Affleck’s Argo took home the Best Picture hardware, but Tarantino’s revenge fantasy ruled the night by hustling away with Best Supporting Actor (to Christopher Waltz), Best Director and Best Original Screenplay (Quentin Tarantino).
It was a fitting juxtaposition. Tarantino and Bryant have both been unfairly criticized for their gunslinger mentalities and have unwaveringly stuck to their guns. Tarantino has been criticized for the gun violence he portays on film in the wake of the Sandy Hook school massacre, and Bryant for the Lakers' abysmal 1-11 record in the first two months of the season in games he scored 30 or more. That argument has gone by the wayside as the Lakers have coalesced since mid-January and won 11 of their last 15 games.
There is also a repressed dark side to both of them. Bryant’s sociopathic focus has been well-documented.
Tarantino just has a propensity for blowing up at reporters.
Rightfully so, Bryant ripped the weekend’s narrative right out of Tarantino’s Oscar-winning script about a freed slave who joins forces with a German bounty hunter and wages war on a Southern plantation owner in search of his enslaved wife.
Bryant has fought tenaciously to keep his wife, Vanessa, but matching Jordan with his sixth NBA title is Kobe’s version of chasing true love.
However, after a subpar first half of the season, Bryant has to train his maniacal focus on micromanaging L.A.'s route to the playoffs. Last week, Bryant defiantly told Sports Illustrated: “It’s not a question of if we make the playoffs. We will. And when we get there, I have no fear of anyone — Oklahoma City, San Antonio, Denver … whoever. I have zero nervousness about that.”
In addition, as Vanessa indicated last March to New York magazine, the sweet aroma of victory has been the elixir in their rocky relationship.
"I certainly would not want to be married to somebody that can't win championships," Vanessa said while Kobe was presumable busy shootin’ in the gym. "If you're sacrificing time away from my family and myself for the benefit of winning championships, then winning a championship should happen every single year."
Hence, winning his sixth Larry O’Brien trophy will keep Vanessa on Kobe's arm and serves as added motivation for a man who requires no further inspiration from exterior forces. Anybody foolish enough to stand in between a man and his woman deserves what's coming.
Cue Mavericks owner (and Tarantino look-alike) Mark Cuban, who hijacked the NBA’s weekend storyline by proposing the ludicrous notion that the Lakers should amnesty Bryant.
“If you look at their payroll, even if Dwight (Howard) comes back, you’ve got to ask the question: Should they amnesty Kobe?” Cuban said during an appearance on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM’s “Ben and Skin Show.” –ESPNDallas.com
The media took the bait and while Bryant didn’t verbally respond, he had to be boiling beneath the surface. Whether it's Jordan angrily flushing over 7'4" Mark Eaton after Jerry Sloan challenged him to dunk over “someone bigger,” or Bryant seething in the midst of a disappointing season, you don’t poke a sleeping bear. This weekend, Bryant clearly came out with bad intentions. His target? The Mavericks. His motives? Revenge on Cuban.
Just as Django warmed up for his war on Calvin Candie by subduing the Speck brothers, Bryant revved up for their trek to Dallas with a 40-point preamble that officially knocked the Trailblazers into the playoff contention also-rans heap.
The eighth-seeded Houston Rockets loss in Washington on Saturday night only raised the stakes for Sunday’s sundown duel between the ninth- and tenth-seeded squads. Kobe’s stern assassin face was on full-display deep in the heart of Texas as his trademark vindictiveness fueled him to a 38-point, 12-rebound and seven-assist performance in L.A.'s 103-99 win in Dallas. The lack of solutions to stop Bryant's onslaught left the Mavs D silent.
Prior to Sunday, Bryant missed 54 of his previous 59 attempts from behind the arc. Sunday, vintage Kobe was on display as he went 4-for-5 and was splitting nylon from impossible angles and spots on the floor.
Conversely, Howard continued his underwhelming theme for the season, by cleaning up 13 boards and was a non-factor offensively with just nine points.
Dirk Nowitzki kept up his part of the duel to the tune of a season-high 30 points, but was shot down by Nash and Bryant's 14 fourth quarter points. After tweaking his back Friday, Nash rebounded from a four-point dud by chipping in 20 points. Led by Bryant, they traded a barrage of shots with Nowitzki, Vince Carter, and OJ Mayo in classic spaghetti-western style.
— Kobe Bryant (@kobebryant) February 24, 2013
Then, Bryant poured verbal salt in the wound by suggesting the Lakers release their German All-Star forward.
"I'm sure if (Cuban) wants to amnesty Dirk (Nowitzki), that's something we'll be willing to entertain." (drops mic)
In response, Cuban humbly gave credit to Bryant.
— Mark Cuban (@mcuban) February 24, 2013
And with that, the Lakers triumphantly rode off into the sunset. The Houston Rockets better watch their backs, the Lakers are nipping at their heels just 2.5 games back and are coming for that spot.