According to various online descriptions and definitions, a black mamba is a large, venomous snake, strong but slender in body, agile and quick and, according to National Geographic, prone to strike repeatedly if cornered. . . .
It's an apt nickname, in other words, for Kobe Bryant. . . .
Bryant started calling himself "Black Mamba" a few years ago, explaining to ESPN, "The mamba can strike with 99% accuracy at maximum speed, in rapid succession. That's the kind of basketball precision I want to have." . . .
He had it Wednesday night, but why'd he wait so long to reveal it? . . .
Oh, right, he wasn't cornered. . . .
Said TNT's Reggie Miller of Bryant's jaw-dropping up-and-under move to score against Manu Ginobili in the third quarter, "There's only one other man that made moves like that and he's watching in Charlotte right now." . . .
His reference, of course was to Michael Jordan, co-owner and managing member of basketball operations for the Charlotte Bobcats. . . .
Speaking of Jordan, 35% of voters in a USA Today poll deemed he and Scottie Pippen the greatest 1-2 combination in NBA history, while 28% voted for the runner-up duo of Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. . . .
Lakers fans, of course, would reverse the order. . . .
After the San Antonio Spurs coughed up a 20-point lead at Staples Center in Game 1, two nights after winning a tense Game 7 at New Orleans and sleeping on the tarmac, Buck Harvey of the San Antonio News-Express wrote, "As the Lakers found their energy, the Spurs were not unlike their charter. They had no lift." . . .
The Detroit Pistons have reached the Eastern Conference finals in each of Tayshaun Prince's six NBA seasons, the underrated former Compton Dominguez High star with the Olive Oyl build a starter in each of the last five. . . .
Three of the four teams in the NBA's conference finals are represented by former Westchester High stars, the ex-Comets including the Lakers' Trevor Ariza, the Boston Celtics' Gabe Pruitt and the Pistons' Amir Johnson. . . .
The touted but seldom-used Johnson, by the way, was the last high school player taken in the NBA draft, going to the Pistons with the 56th pick in 2005 before the league instituted a rule requiring that players be at least one year removed from the graduation of their high school class to be eligible. . . .
When Tiger Woods, defending champion Angel Cabrera & Co. tee off in the U.S. Open next month at Torrey Pines, it will be only the second time in the event's 113-year history that the national golf championship is played in Southern California and the first since 1948, when Ben Hogan won at Riviera. . . .
This week's awarding of the 2012 Super Bowl to Indianapolis guarantees that at least 20 years will have passed since the last L.A.-area Super Bowl, the NFL's showcase event having last been played in this area Jan. 31, 1993, when the Dallas Cowboys swamped the Buffalo Bills, 52-17, at the Rose Bowl. . . .
Those debating whether Mike Piazza's Hall of Fame plaque should depict him wearing a Dodgers cap or a New York Mets cap should take it up with the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, N.Y., which makes the final determination after the Wade Boggs controversy of a decade ago. . . .
Boggs, shown wearing a Boston Red Sox cap on his Hall plaque, denied reports that his final contract with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays included a bonus for requesting that he be depicted in a Rays cap on the monument. . . .
Piazza was traded to the Mets 10 years ago Thursday, eight days after the Dodgers shipped the soon-to-be free agent to the Florida Marlins, and wound up playing in more games with the Mets than with the Dodgers, finishing with more at-bats, more home runs and more RBIs in the Mets' orange and blue. . . .
By the way, if Piazza goes into the Hall of Fame the same year as Roger Clemens, hopefully Clemens won't throw anything at him. . . .
Former Dodgers left-hander Mark Hendrickson's favorite pickup line, as told to Sports Illustrated: "You believe in love at first sight, or should I walk by again?" . . .
And that works?