Kobe Bean Bryant is among one of the most successful basketball players to ever play the game. He is a five-time NBA world champion, two-time NBA Finals MVP, ranks third on the NBA’s all-time scoring list, and the rest of his accolades go on and on. Kobe’s endless list of achievements and accomplishments leaves no one questioning his greatness. He is without a doubt a first ballot Hall of Famer, but is he a talented skateboarder? Not in this lifetime. But in an alternate world where he discovers skateboarding instead of basketball? Absolutely.
Kobe Bryant the Skate Rat
The most talented skateboarders are always the biggest skate rats. Think Eric Koston and Andrew Reynolds became who they are by only skating when there was nothing else to do? Kobe’s love for basketball and desire to play the game has been well documented. There are countless stories about him sneaking into gyms late at night, playing high school teammates to 100 in games of one-on-one, etc. Instead of spending hours upon hours and countless late nights at the gym, Kobe would have been at the local skatepark skating all day and night.
Kobe has even been documented practicing basketball without the ball. It is safe to assume most skateboarders have pretended their cell-phone is a Tech Deck, mimicking a variety of flip tricks.
Kobe also would have been in it for the long haul. He is about to start his 20th NBA season, which is far more seasons played than most, especially by one who has already won multiple championships and earned more than enough money to last multiple lifetimes. When skateboarding died in the 90’s Kobe would have stuck around. His passion and love for the game is too strong. Kobe’s been quoted saying “I love the squeaking of the shoes against the hardwood, the ball bouncing against the hardwood, the sound of the net, the smell of the leather, I love everything about it.” Each basketball detail he obsesses over could easily be replaced with any details the average skateboarder fixates over.
Kobe Bryant the Skate Nerd
Some of the best skateboarders to skate with are the skate nerds. Their encyclopedia level of knowledge over skateboarders, skate videos, and skate gossip make any conversation entertaining. It can be irritating when somebody does not understand the significance and impact on skateboarding some people, such as the Gonz, have contributed. Having a fine knowledge and respect of skateboard history and culture often shines in one’s skating as well, just take Ben Raybourn for example. Kobe would be no exception. He grew up in Italy and would have his grandparents ship him VHS tapes of NBA games which he would constantly have on repeat. From these VHS tapes he learned new basketball moves and studied from the all-time greats and developed his appreciation for those that helped shape the game of basketball. Sounds eerily similar to any skateboarder, huh?
Kobe Bryant’s Toughness
Professional athletes’ toughness is often highly overrated. They typically over exaggerate their slams and ham it up so they can get the crowds’ and commentators’ support and sympathy. When Steph Curry flipped onto his back last year during the playoffs, one would think he suffered a fractured neck the way his fall was treated. No doubt the fall was painful, but it was nothing out of the ordinary for skateboarders. Rudy Johnson said it best in his Crailtap Mini Top 5 , skateboarders take slams that most non-skateboarders would have trouble bouncing back from. Most people fall once skateboarding and decide skateboarding is not worth it. Kobe would skate until he could no longer walk. He’s suffered numerous injuries throughout his career and has mostly played through each one. The man tore his Achilles and still managed to shoot two free throws and walk off the court without any assistance. He could more than handle some Dying to Live or Welcome to Hell slam section slams.
Kobe Bryant’s Fuck You Attitude
Skateboarding needs and loves eccentric personalities. Kobe’s would have been a great one to add to the list. He has never cared how the public views him. He encourages boos and doubt from others, once even humorously stating “Boos don’t block dunks.” His dominant asshole personality could have been perfectly honed in the world of skateboarding. Skateboarding can be overly critical about the way somebody dresses and/or skates, which ultimately leads to a lot of skateboarders becoming clones of the “cool guys.” Kobe would not care. He would dress and skate the way he wanted to, regardless of critics. “I don’t give a [expletive] what you say, if I go out there and miss game winners, and people say, ‘Kobe choked, or Kobe is seven for whatever in pressure situations.’ Well, [expletive] you. Because I don’t play for your [expletive] approval. I play for my own love and enjoyment of the game.”
Kobe Bryant the Loner
Everybody has their own personal reasons for skateboarding. For a lot of people skateboarding is the one place in the world where they can freely express themselves and feel accepted by like-minded individuals. The everyday activities of the “normal” person feel too strange and foreign. In his documentary Muse, Kobe expresses similar feelings. As a result of constantly moving around as a child and living in a foreign country, Kobe never felt truly comfortable with his surroundings at an early age, except when basketball was involved. “I would disappear and go play basketball. The thing that always was the most constant was the game. That was my refuge. That was the place where I could go and have complete familiarity, no matter where I was.”
Skateboarding arguably is not a sport, but that would not have stopped Kobe from being one hell of a skateboarder.