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Bill Dwyre

Mere mortals in L.A. love their stars, but hero worship lavished on Bryant transcends all

May 09, 2008|Bill Dwyre

It has been two days now since his coronation, and we remain a city in a twitter.

Kobe Bryant is the MVP.

One more time, let's chant: MVP. MVP. MVP.

Ours is a city that has had Van Brocklin and Koufax, Drysdale and Wilt, Fernando and Shaq. The Great One skated his way into our hearts.

Sampras and Tiger are ours. So are Walton and Wooden.

Gibson tingled our spine and the Golden Boy keeps jabbing on our behalf. West came from the East and let us claim a logo, Elgin head-faked around the entire league and Kareem sky-hooked our hearts.

Hershiser shut 'em down, Carew lit 'em up, and Bo Jackson ran all over 'em for us. Not so long ago, Magic pulled rabbits out of hats for us.

Still, none of them got our wings fluttering in the City of Angels like Kobe.

If we didn't know better, we'd think he cured cancer.

He is everywhere. A radio talk show isn't a radio talk show unless the topic is Kobe. ESPN has scores of reporters to cover the NBA. Kobe gets his own guy, Ric Bucher. Kobe coughs, Ric reaches for a handkerchief.

And the daily papers. Kobe here, Kobe there. Kobe, Kobe everywhere. Game day. Kobe. Off day, Kobe. Three days until the next game. Kobe. Kobe. Kobe.

We have analyzed life before Kobe, life when Kobe wasn't quite yet Kobe. We are horrified by the thought of what life might have been had Kobe left and Shaq stayed. We are fascinated that Kobe was angry when the season started and now he is not. We wonder why he didn't like his teammates and now he does. The sportswriters probably had it wrong.

We have turned ourselves into pretzels, trying to figure out if Kobe forced the big trade for Pau Gasol by immature preseason sulking, or by strategic, calculated preseason sulking. We lean toward the latter.

We sit and watch in amazement as Kobe hits for three, drives for two and, at the end of the game, becomes the only one. We have seen talent before, but we have never worshiped it quite like this.

On the day that Commissioner David Stern comes to town and looks up adoringly as he hands Kobe the MVP trophy, some of the papers run two full-page ads.

In one, the Lakers say congratulations in a nice, understated tribute.

In the other, the Swoosh guys, makers of shoes and builders of image, who are perfectly attuned to the current state of idolatry in Los Angeles, give us a montage of Kobe.

In it, we have Kobe the phenom, student, scholar, guardian, teammate, veteran, captain, entertainer, ally, contender, workhorse, chemist and mamba.

It is marketing geared to hero worship, and we are doing the worshiping. Only problem is that a few of us are still working on mamba.

We don't interview Kobe. We gush statements designed to get a return gush.

"The team is showing so much confidence out there, Kobe."

"Just a lot of hard work, man."

On game night, when they turn Staples Center into Lakers purple, making it look like a giant footprint in a vineyard, all is well with our world. If we are there, we can feel the excitement, share the goose bumps, maybe even purchase something with No. 24 on it. Plenty of selection folks, but the lines are long.

When it comes to Kobe, we are downtown's favorite restaurant, the Pantry. We eat it up, 24/7.

The best news is, assuming no other team in the league can match our deity, we have a month or more of this still to come.

NBA Finals, we are ready.

And we deserve this. We are Hollywood. Stars are our life, heroes our self-esteem.

Gushing and Going Ga-Ga R-us.

All together now. MVP. MVP. MVP.

--

Bill Dwyre can be reached at bill.dwyre@latimes.com. For previous columns by Dwyre, go to latimes.com/dwyre.

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