Considering he has only been on Twitter for eight months, it’s pretty remarkable that Kobe Bryant has already reached the three-million follower plateau. More impressive is the fact that in a mere 606 tweets, Vino has managed to enter the daily ESPN spin cycle countless times. After drawing negative attention for criticizing his team in the middle of a playoff run, Kobe demonstrated the power of social media to bring about positive change by throwing his support behind Jason Collins.
Kobe’s most recent tweet, however, is just plain baffling.
Although his words suggest that this bizarre high dive was nothing more than a demonstration of his post injury strength, whether Kobe knows it or not, he’s saying a lot more. Well, not so much saying as screaming: “Pay attention to me!”
This is nothing new for professional athletes, but for Kobe Bryant, it reflects a major change in his PR approach. He sounds absolutely nothing like the man who only a year ago told Yahoo! Sports:
“I don’t give a [expletive] what you say. If I go out there and miss game winners, and people say, ‘Kobe chocked, or Kobe is seven for whatever in pressure situations.’ Well, [expletive] you. Because I don’t play for your [expletive] approval.”
Pretty far off from this tweet, right?
Why the sudden demand for attention? It’s anybody’s guess. But you have to wonder if it’s connected to the fact that as far as his playing career goes, the light at the end of the tunnel is getting pretty bright. At age 35, Bryant will be coming off a devastating achilles injury to play in his 18th NBA season. Basketball mortality aside, how about the fact that he can practically feel LeBron James breathing down his neck as he makes his historic assault on the record books? I don’t care how much ice Vino has in his veins; the thought of LeBron storming down the court is enough to make anyone sweat.
Call me nuts, but I genuinely hope that I’m right – that Kobe Bryant’s recent pleas for clicks and eyeballs are nothing more than flashy manifestations of latent insecurity. Because if Kobe steps onto the court this season with something to prove, then basketball fans are in for a real treat.