Great piece by Bill Plaschke about Kobe ["Open Season, Dec. 17]. I'd really noticed the changes in him as well, a far more vulnerable, candid and accessible human being. And I wondered if I was the only one to appreciate it, amid a relentless din of one-dimensional dimwits on sports talk radio shows, incessantly blabbering about how "selfish" he is. I can understand how some can see him that way — he's certainly a flawed hero — but when have we last seen an athlete with such an intense devotion to improvement and to winning?
A lifetime Lakers fan, it took me quite a few years to get to like and appreciate Kobe, as I always tended to side with Shaq back in that era. But how I and millions of others will miss this guy when he's gone! Will we ever see another one like him? I can't imagine it.
Bill Plaschke tells us that the arrogant, haughty, unapproachable Kobe Bryant we have seen for the last 19 years was not the real Bryant. It was only a facade. The real Bryant is the one out there now with the "I'm old, I'm tired, I'm hurt" shtick. The real Bryant is almost cuddly. I suggest if a young Shaquille O'Neal walked into the locker room tomorrow, the angry, snarling, petulant Bryant would be back in a flash.
It's tough to strut at 8-17.
I find Bill Plaschke's article on Kobe Bryant's now showing more of his supposedly in-depth personality quite silly with all of the gushing comments about how Kobe is now becoming all so revealing and letting the "world in." Bill, are you so out of touch? There is a strong percentage of Lakers fans who really don't care about Kobe's philosophy on life now that he is at this stage of his career when many fans lament his huge two-year contract and all of his now-poor shot selection and diminished stamina.
The most fun in watching the Lakers this season concerns the interaction of Swaggy P and the Black Mamba as they enthusiastically pursue the most descriptive nickname on the team of IDP. I don't pass.
How about a playoff series with the Lakers, Pistons, 76ers and the Knicks for the "Tank Championship."
That stove is hot
Can someone check my math on this? If the players the Dodgers will be paying in 2015 to play for other teams all put on the same uniform, they'd probably be the fifth- or sixth- biggest payroll in the majors. And most Los Angeles baseball fans wouldn't have access to their games on TV either.
When I read that the Dodgers signed an injury-prone player to a one-year, $10-million contract, I thought it was Steve Nash.
The lost ring
Why am I not surprised that Vinny shops at Costco? Our collective love for the man is why he can shop there without being mobbed by fans. Lifelong Angelenos like me usually have our own story about Vin. I once had the privilege of meeting him outside his press box. With me was a friend and his 7-year-old twin sons. Vin gave the adults a sincere but quick greeting. Then he got down on one knee and spent five minutes talking to the 7-year-olds.
The Dodgers need to win another World Series before Vin Scully loses the only championship ring he has left.
No way to win
With UCLA losing the men's NCAA championship soccer game on penalty kicks, it has renewed my dislike for soccer. Why for an NCAA championship game or the World Cup final would such a game be allowed to be decided by penalty kicks? The teams should continue to play until one team has enough in it to get that one goal to win it. I will always be a bigger hockey fan because at least the Stanley Cup will be won by the best team.
Given how The Times regularly touts local sports stars, I was surprised by your coverage of the Army-USC basketball game last Saturday, in which the visiting Black Knights upset the Trojans, 85-77.
Army's Kyle Wilson, who led all scorers with 30 points, played for Trabuco Hills High in Mission Viejo before heading to West Point, where he was the 2012-13 Patriot League rookie of the year and a unanimous 2013-14 first-team All-Patriot League selection, among other honors.
He also happens to be my nephew. The whole family was at Galen Center to support Kyle and we screamed ourselves silly, although Pat Haden, sitting courtside, was a bit more subdued.
Strike a pose
Interesting that The Times' main story on Sunday's sports page was about bad boy Johnny Manziel, with the story of Marcus Mariota winning the Heisman Trophy relegated to a small picture on the bottom and the story on Page 9. I hope my 11-year-old flag football player doesn't shift from his emulating his current hero Mariota's work ethic and modesty to start practicing the money finger dance.
The Heisman is a prestigious award that deserves national recognition. But it is not the Nobel, nor the first or second coming. ESPN milked and squeezed the presentation disgustingly dry.
Poor Sam Farmer. He still doesn't quite get it ["Chargers out of L.A. picture for 2015", Dec. 17]. The NFL hates change and continues to encourage existing troubled franchises to refrain from entertaining a move to L.A.
The NFL sees L.A. only as a bargaining chip for diseased franchises and a vital resource for its media/PR branch. No way, at least not in this century, is pro football returning to, arguably, the nation's leading entertainment market. Makes a lot of sense, doesn't it?
Lawrence M. Kates
BULLETIN: Mayor Eric Garcetti says that although he was really certain that an NFL team would relocate to L.A. in 2015, he is now absolutely certain that the NFL has a revolutionary new plan in place for Los Angeles. All 30 teams will relocate here in 2016. All games will be played in the Coliseum, Rose Bowl, Farmers Field and that other new stadium in the City of Industry. The mayor says he has highly placed sources in the NFL and this is really going to happen.
The mayor's efforts to get L.A. considered as a host city for the 2024 Olympics deserves no cheers. It means only that the city is nominating itself to be shaken down by the thugs of the corrupt IOC. It's time to just say no to any involvement in hosting the Olympics.
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