Weird, but this time, no shots directed at Kobe Bryant


Ordinarily, it would take someone pointing a gun at my head to defend Kobe Bryant, and while there are apparently a number of NBA players equipped to do so, let me try to explain why I’m suddenly in Kobe’s corner.

It’s because of my vacation -- some vacation. Do you know what it feels like to learn you weigh more than Ronnie Belliard, and the Dodgers consider him fat, while the wife is insisting we try every buffet in Las Vegas?

I go to Arizona and the granddaughter wants to know if the guy on the billboard is G.P.


From a distance, her mother explains, maybe Bob Big Boy’s puffy cheeks look a lot like G.P.’s, “but Bob is a much younger man.”

I call Torre to express my concern that Koufax will be looking like someone ready to pitch again when we get together, while I’ll be sitting next to him looking like a tethered Thanksgiving Day parade blimp.

“Sandy weighed 215 when he pitched,” says Torre, his way of further highlighting the mismatch. “He’s only about 180 now. And he looks great.”

I was already under a ton of stress. I own one suit. Bought it 34 pounds ago for Scully & Wooden, and have been on vacation for the last two weeks trying to lose so I’ll fit into it again for Koufax & Torre on Feb. 27.

Bad idea. While I’m gone, the Chargers tank, the Angels send a shipment of HGH to the Mets, Mike Garrett seems surprised when Norm Chow calls an audible, and one golfer calls another a cheat and he isn’t talking about Tiger.

Frank McCourt says he’s talking again and no one is holding the presses, the kid sailor is now a bobber on the high seas, Joe Torre and Mike Scioscia get together with John Wooden, and I’m not writing about any of it -- so all I can do is eat.


On a bright note, one more meal and I’ll be able to ask Scioscia if I can borrow one of his suits.

That brings me to Kobe. I volunteered to cut my vacation short Saturday to write about Kobe so I could skip lunch and dinner with the wife at Hometown Buffet.

The sports editor said he didn’t want me to write, though, and while a number of you might agree he’s onto something there, I’m not going to let anyone stop me from coming to Kobe’s aid.

The whole Kobe thing starts with Gilbert Arenas, the guns he had in his locker and then something Kobe said in an advertisement.

I never thought about it much when a player would reach into his locker for his underpants, but now I’ve changed my thinking -- especially if he makes a move for his shorts while I’m asking him why he stinks. The give-and-take days with an athlete might be over.

I think about all the players I have interviewed while standing before their lockers, demanding that each and every one of them be a straight shooter, so thankful now they are athletes and incapable of doing so.

Most people probably agree it’s not a good idea to bring a gun to work. I took a poll of editors here, and every one of them agreed on that point.


As for overkill, anyone who had a problem with what Kobe had to say in a Nike ad is ridiculously nitpicking.

In the ad, which reads Kobe and LeBron “Prepare for Combat,” Kobe says, “I’ll do whatever it takes to win games, I don’t leave anything in the chamber.”

I have a bigger problem in this age of real overseas combat done by real heroes when other folks try to suggest a basketball game is warlike.

But come on, Kobe is a shooter, a gunner, a ball hog -- sorry, forgot for a moment there I was defending the ball hog.

An NBA spokesman, though, says the ad is inappropriate. The president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence says Kobe and Nike “demonstrate an irresponsible sophomoric attitude about guns.”

An Ohio TV station piles on: “The advertisement is sure to spark some fires with parents who have young kids that idolize Bryant and James and look to them as role models.”


How many parents do you think noticed the ad? If they did, how many were outraged or concluded Kobe was a bad role model?

Wouldn’t it be funny if some did, and they were the parents of Abby Sunderland, the kid sailing alone around the world?

If there are parents upset, they were probably upset after the Kobe Colorado incident too, so good news -- we know it’s only a matter of time before they won’t be upset any longer.

That makes this no big deal, and I’m so thrilled I got the chance to defend Kobe. Time to celebrate, maybe a piece of pie and then a call to Scioscia.

BIG NEWS comes with Billy Crystal agreeing to be dinner speaker for Koufax & Torre to benefit Safe At Home, Torre’s foundation to end the cycle of abuse.

Tickets, which for the most part are tax-deductible, remain on sale at ([800] 745-3000), as well as VIP packages to catch Crystal’s contribution at (213) 742-3000.

As far as I’m concerned, whatever the cost, it will be worth the price of admission just to see if Koufax shows up.